THE STORMING OF THE NIGERIAN BASTILLE   7 comments

The Bastille was a fortress built in Paris in the 14th century and used as a prison in the 17th and 18th centuries; it was destroyed on July 14, 1789 at the start of the French Revolution in what was described as “The Storming of the Bastille”.

I have been keen on drawing lessons for Nigeria from France’s advanced democratic setting especially as exemplified by that country’s last presidential elections. See: https://raymondeyo.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/lessons-for-nigeria-from-frances-elections/

However, our present purpose suggests that Nigeria takes inspiration from the very foundation of that French democratic establishment – the Storming of the Bastille! Without much peering, it is clear the recent Edo State gubernatorial election which fell precisely on the 223rd anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, constitutes what can be considered “The Storming of the Nigerian Bastille”.

It has to be said that the generally popular resonance with the victory of the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) against the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) stems more from the fact that it dealt a death blow to the PDP’s culture of god-fatherism that more or less has had Edo State as its epicentre in recent times. Indeed, Senator Mudashiru Hussain said on July 14, 2012 that the outcome of the Edo election was going to determine the future of Nigeria’s democracy as I suppose, to the extent that it would demonstrate the potency of people power over ‘god-fatherly’ machinations. The ACN National Leader, Bola Tinubu, shared the same sentiment when he described Oshiomhole’s victory as “a great signal of a new chapter in Nigeria’s democratic struggle.” In the same vein, a political commentator, Taiwo Nolas-Alausa, declared: “May the victory of Edo spread across the nation. Come 2015, we shall cremate the godfathers”.

Also, former military head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida on July 17 said the Edo election has re-enacted the doctrine of ‘one man, one vote’ being canvassed by most Nigerians. In a statement entitled “The Power of the People,” Babangida said the election had further reassured the polity that under a credible and effective electoral system, the people’s power, expressed through votes, would reign supreme. Babangida said: “This ennobling and humbling feat [of victory “against a party that parades hitherto political heavyweights”] is only possible in an atmosphere of well mobilised and [conscientious] voters, who… resolved to sustain the mantra of ‘one man, one vote’ as the fundamental basis of representative democracy.” “The lesson from the Edo election is that Nigeria can truly get it right if election outcomes reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people. Edo State has become a trailblazer in this unique dimension of making votes to count after elections,” Babangida added. Like or hate him, Babangida struck exactly the right notes in his statement above.

By many standards, the Edo election was a huge political battle that transcended the state. The Oshiomhole victory wasn’t just a victory for the people of the state. Edo is the only state being governed by the leading opposition party, the ACN, outside of its dominant base in the South-West, and hence constitutes a major factor in the party’s quest for national reckoning. Similarly, the Edo election was a test-case for the planned merger between the ACN and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) – a development that informed the withdrawal of the CPC’s candidate to back his ACN counterpart. Therefore, Edo may have just created a platform for a possible and expedient opposition merger much needed to provide a credible national alternative to the ruling behemoth that is the PDP!

Indeed, the appeal of July 14 is what must have informed this Nigerian twitter handle @iamBHL to have “July 14th” as his profile name! This handle’s bio opens with “…in pursuit of positive change”. Going forward, it is my impassioned hope and prayer that the gains of July 14, 2012 for Nigeria will ultimately lead to positive change via the upping of our democratic ante just as July 14, 1789 brought about positive change for France!

Follow Raymond on Twitter @Raymond_Eyo

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7 responses to “THE STORMING OF THE NIGERIAN BASTILLE

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  1. Useful write up, Raymond.The results of the Guber election were an endorsement of an incumbent governor who had performed by the electorate. They also show the improving organizational ability of INEC and the federal authorities. Any other reading and extrapolations may amount to be stretching facts to fit positions.

  2. Edo guber election is a great change we’ve in the history of Nigeria election . Gradually we are on the way . In 100 yrs coming history will tell our future generation the struggle we are facing today to make Nigeria a great nation .

    Isah Haruna Ardido
  3. The election served as a premise for what is to come… Hopefully we the people won’t shift ground after that epic day. Come 2015, the PDP must be annihilated from our polity. Good writeup Raymond.

  4. …in pursuit of positive change. Yes, we are winning and the change have started. i can say the electorates now know what they deserve and know the way to go about it. One man One vote for a good candidate. The write up is a storm to bad governance….keep it up bros.

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