tribes and tribulations

Nigerian elections: which voter type are you?

By Paul Chuks

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Posted on July 4, 2023 15:08

 © Stoic voters wait their turn at the urns in Nigeria’s February election. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
Stoic voters wait their turn at the urns in Nigeria’s February election. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Nigeria’s 2023 presidential poll and its run-up was like no other. The emergence of a third contender led to dramatic episodes of mud-slinging like only Nigerians know how.

The election also revealed three strains of campaigners outdoing each other in zealotry, each with their own arsenal of denials, accusations and fantasy. The Africa Report takes a satirical look at this unholy trinity.

1. The Bigot

Who cares about the consequences? You base your choice of candidate purely on the grounds of ethnicity. The man vying for the presidency in the new electoral cycle is your tribesman.

And the last time your tribesman was president his cruel policies had a mesh bottom that separated his kin – which you, fortunately, belonged to – from others, who bore the brunt of its cruelty. The fuel price, like the phallus of a priest with a fluctuating libido, decreased in the presence of his kin, and increased in the presence of his non-kin.

With prophetic zeal, pronounce ‘Nigeria no fit better, none of them will do good’.

Now, as fate would have it, a man with a scanty past has emerged to become president – and he speaks your language! The time to shelve good leadership for tribal affinity is now. For what is loyalty, if not preserving godhood? You want to spirit your way into political naivety, and this is the best way to do it.

When you encounter a kinsman or woman who prioritises good leadership over tribal affinity, call them a fool. Accuse them of betrayal.

Look at them aghast, forgetting that you have about as much a political clout as a toddler. Tell them your kin would make a better president than the other candidates, simply because he’s your kin. Don’t tell them that the other candidates are sounding like they won’t loot the national cake.

At the end of the argument, with prophetic zeal, pronounce Nigeria no fit better, none of them will do good, to reaffirm this viral belief among Nigerians and make righteous candidates look like pretenders.

Sling ethnic diatribe. You’re David, and voters from other groups – especially the red-cap wearers – are Goliath. Ethnic diatribe is your stone and your mouth is the catapult. Sling, just like David, with the precision of a surgeon – until their ambitions are dead.

When they remind you of the oppression meted out to them by the Nigerian state, ogle them, then tell them to get over it, the Biafran war is long gone and you are just basking in a victim mentality. You have worked as a psychoanalyst for years and have solved psychological puzzles far harder than this.


If any candidate rises to be your governor and his mother is from the state adjacent to river Niger but his father is your kin, tell him that his blood has been contaminated with something foreign and that this disqualifies him from vying for the presidency.

Ignore his impeccable resume, and gawk at the sky in wonder when the news is swollen with stories of racial attacks in America or Europe. Smile ebulliently when a Nigerian is elected to political office in United Kingdom or Canada. Hypocrisy is the mother of bigotry.

Finally, before the curtain falls, mistake the presidential office for a ball that revolves around each geopolitical zone the way the planets orbit the sun. Tell anybody who demonstrates against your candidate, matter-of-factly, that it is our turn to rule, Yoruba lokan.

And when the curtain falls, start touching where it hurts and ululate to the sky, asking God why Nigeria is a Greek tragedy remontada.

2. The Fascist

You are paid to launder the image of your candidate, but when this candidate was governor you accused him of corruption and extreme religiosity.

Pretend these accusations do not exist, for old things have passed away and all things become new. Forget the blood of Christ: money inspires salvation.

When the campaign starts and concerned Nigerians ask about your past criticisms, block them, ignore them and say they want to vote for the fascist candidate.

Like many looters, drug peddlers and others looking to hide illegal money, your candidate has an offshore account. When questioned about it during an interview, he said I’m not the first person to own an offshore account. People from other countries own offshore accounts. Use this as a response to anyone who presses you about it. Never inquire about the modus operandi of offshore accounts – or, if you do, pretend it is something a saint might have.

In your rage, make sure you slant history to the darkest side of the cosmos.

Your candidate’s running mate has, in the past, called for the death of queer people because he can’t fathom other sexualities. You have to defend him, so you tell queer people that, thankfully, he’s not going to be the president, so they shouldn’t bother letting his words pinch them.

If you’re homophobic, side with him. Say that homosexuality is against our culture. The pre-colonial Africans practised homosexuality and were demonised for it by the British colonialists, who are now pro-queer. Ignore this detail: tell them God doesn’t like it.

If you are Hollywood-famous and a post-colonial scholar at the same time, write to the president of the United States of America and tell him the election is a sham. Ignore that Nigeria is a sovereign state. Ignore that America has been credited with causing 300,000,000 deaths by destabilising nations in the name of spreading democracy. Just ignore it! When journalists ask what you think about the reaction of some Nigerians, call it the juvenile fulminations of non-juvenile people. 

A Nigerian writer who doubles as a political activist has just given his comment about your group on live TV. He likes the emergence of your candidate because it’s the first time a man from that ethnicity will get serious momentum all over Nigeria and even in the diaspora.

He supported him but was unable to vote because his holiday coincided with the election. He’s made that sacrifice too many times in his 88 years.

But he makes a statement, lampooning your group for their intolerance of anyone who is sceptical about your candidate. He calls you people fascists. Don’t see this word as a metaphor for your intolerance; instead, see Hitler, see Idi Amin, see Mussolini.

Scrunch your face, break your fingers and move to the internet to serve him a buffet of vitriol.

In your rage, make sure you slant history to the darkest side of the cosmos so that his political stint will look like a horror show. He invented cultism in the University of Ibadan to drive home the demands of the students to an administration who couldn’t stomach them, but cultism evolved on its own into what is now a Ku Klux Klan mimic. Accuse him of bringing the most violent innovation to Nigeria.

Accuse him of jealousy. Accuse him of teaming up with white men, by which you mean the Nobel board, to sabotage Chinua Achebe’s chances at winning the prize.

Label him a washed up old man. Accuse him of being anti-Igbo, while disregarding his 18-month incarceration for going to the East during the Biafran war to broker peace.

When people ask why you are pharaonic about your candidate, tell them his state ranked number one on the WASSCE chart of exam results.

And when they tell you that the yardstick for education is literacy, tell them he tiled roads, built hospitals and gave all the head boys in the state his phone number, in case they had a problem.

They will tell you it is not enough; not enough to elevate a past president who massacred people, increased the fuel price eight hours before the end of his regime and wanted a third term for himself to the point of salvation for supporting your candidate. Stonewall.

3. The Faded Fascistic Bigot

Your candidate has been vying for the presidential seat since 1993 and has never won. In this electoral cycle, he is a big contender, unlike in previous cycles. This prediction is met with a blow by the emergence of the man whose supporters you call emergency lovers of Nigeria. 

Julius Berger consulted the bridge over the River Niger when he constructed your candidate.

Your candidate has been relegated to the back seat, fading his relevancy, and your only hope is to fight the emergency lovers of Nigeria. The best way to do it is to act like the harbinger of truth. You know so much that others don’t know because you can channel reality, while others cling to their imaginations. You tell the emergency lovers of Nigeria that their candidate will not win because he’s a baby politician who just emerged eight months prior to the election.

In Nigeria, as you know, presidential seats are won by those who have played the long game since 1960. They will tell you that their candidate is not here to play the old game and they will not fall asleep with an impending revolution raging in the background.

Look at them askance and tell them that the only chance their candidate ever had was to run with your candidate, like he did in 2019, and then to wait for his turn.

This is because your candidate serves as the bridge linking their candidate (and the oppressed easterners) to the presidential seat. You know, Julius Berger consulted the bridge over the River Niger when he constructed your candidate.

People will take you back to the time your candidate was the vice-president of Nigeria and his major legacy was the privatisation of federal institutions. They will tell you those institutions have fallen into oblivion and ask for assurance that history will not repeat itself. Ignore them.

Lecture them on the benefits of privatisation. Tell them it will save the government money, which will help it clear debt and reimburse the economy. They will argue against you, with even more robust assertions. Simply ignore them.

They will show you a video of your candidate saying he’s a unifier because he married from the three major tribes of the country. Defend him: why shouldn’t marriage be used as a unifier? They will call your candidate a tailor. Fight them, unless they are your friends.

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