The Independent National Electoral Criminals (INEC) truly behaved like the name suggests. No warning, no credible reasons and in dismissive manner postponed the presidential election six hours before the polls open. INEC had four years to prepare, plan, and hold hitch free and fair elections. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Like I have argued in the past, APC and PDP cannot win any election without rigging. The INEC is a willing accomplice in the criminal act.
The postponement gives me another opportunity through this medium to talk to Nigerian youths which represent 70% of our population. What I learned as a kid in Sunday school about the story of the three Hebrew brothers – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is about defying a government, about standing firm in the face of oppression, about taking unpopular stand, and above all, making a choice.
Much of our biblical story is about political issues: liberation from pharaohs, conquest of foreign lands, rivalry between kings, laws governing society, prophets critiquing kings, political exile, and empires trading places.
The three Hebrew brothers refused to bow down for the image of king Nebuchadnezzar. The king offered them a simple choice: worship the idol or die. For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego it was no choice at all. They refused to bow down to the image of the king saying “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
The event took place over 2,600 years ago. But details of the story is happening in today’s Nigeria. In a country where the arrogance of power, the cravenness of institutional authorities, and the punishment of dissent are routine features of life of oppressed poor Nigerians, Nigerian youths are Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos of our day being tortured and persecuted and being thrown into the fiery furnace of socioeconomic and political hara-kiri.
But the stark difference between them and the three Hebrew brothers is that Nigerian youths for 58 years remained scared and silent in the face of oppression and what’s more, they are in love with their oppressors. They don’t have the courage to tell their oppressors to go to hell like the three Hebrew brothers told king Nebuchadnezzar.
The story of the three Hebrew brothers provides Nigerian youths an iconic model, the defiant character, unshakable conviction and act of conscience they ought to show the tyrannical powers – the Nebuchadnezzars – who held them captives for 58 years. They bent their spirits. They impoverished them. They turned them into armed robbers and prostitutes. They turned them slaves and refugees in their own country. They wrote them off as inconsequential. They wasted their generation.
They shattered their dreams. They were forced to worship their oppressors. They became drawers of water and hewers of firewood. They told them they ain’t good for anything. They told them they are not qualified to run for president. They were told they are lazy bums. They convinced them they don’t have the experience, the ability and capability to run for president. They advised them to wait till eternity. They were persuaded that they are as good as dead!
What do Nigerian youths want to be in the next four years? As dinners or a waiters/waitresses? As servants or free born? As armed robbers or prostitutes or gainfully employed citizens? The two old Nebuchadnezzars begging for their votes see them as fickle minded, easy to please, unintelligent, dimwits, uneducated, ignoramuses, fools, idiots, and cowards. Our youths were raped and ripped apart and left as dead. Ones attitudes, decisions, behaviors, are determined by one of two things: External pressure or internal principle. They cashed on our youths being swayed by external pressures as opposed to internal principles.
No doubt, our youths have been victims of external pressure given what they know about the unfitness, unpreparedness, incompetence, selfishness, wickedness, greed and graft, insensitivity, nepotism, bigotry, blindness, deafness, dumbness, corruption, poor judgment, and so many flaws of the two old Nebuchadnezzars running for president. One promised them next level of suffering and sorrow while the other vowed to make Nigeria work only for his family and friends.
But what our youths needed most on Saturday is to function on internal principle. As we approach Saturday, our youths must learn from the three young Hebrew brothers. I want them to put themselves in the shoes of the courageous three Hebrew rebels. I want them to see themselves in the next four years in the fiery furnace of poverty, unemployment, death, slavery, ignorance, illiteracy, oppression, subjugation, and total darkness prepared by the two old Nebuchadnezzars who want to be president.
The first prayer I want Nigerian youths to pray from now till they cast their votes on Saturday is “God make me brave to make the right decision.” It’s important to remind them that life and death don’t matter – right or wrong do. I want them on Saturday like the three Hebrew brothers, to defy the two old Nebuchadnezzars by voting Omoyele Sowore of African Action Congress (AAC). I want them to base their decisions not on any external pressure but on principle.
On Saturday, their story should flow like the three Hebrew brothers from persecution to command, to conspiracy, to coercion, to courage, to consequences, to triumph, to commendation, to victory and to celebration. Saturday is their date with destiny. Nigerian youths, for once, be Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos and vote AAC/Sowere… Let’s go there!