By Dapo Okubanjo
When I first heard the words post- election blues, I never thought it was a big deal until the winner of the 2023 Presidential election in Nigeria was announced.
Yes, everyone who is old enough remembers the 2011 election and how some folks in Northern Nigeria could not process how the then candidate Muhammadu Buhari was not declared President-elect inspite of a massive popularity that saw him polling 12m mostly in one part of the country.
For them, it could only be due to electoral fraud by the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But many Nigerians were quick to blame the post-election protest on poor education in a region that is home to a majority of the country’s out of school children population.
Now looking at Nigeria in the aftermath of the 2023 Presidential election, the question is, is there a difference between the two situation?
On the surface there is, but in reality there is no difference. infact there is a similarity and it is what is regarded in other climes as post-election blues.
Judging from the societies where the words are regularly used to describe behavioral patterns in the aftermath of elections, there seems to be a psychological element to it as seen in the behavior of former US President Donald Trump and his support base after he lost the 2000 Presidential election.
A similar situation is playing out in Nigeria with Labour Party (LP) which came third in the February 25 election, declaring that it indeed won the election without showing how it did.
To make matters worse, its Vice Presidential candidate Datti Baba-Ahmed went on National TV to literally incite public disorder even at a time that the party had taken its case to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal(PEPT).
This is what he said: “I am telling you that on the 29th of May 2023, swear in Tinubu as this result is, you have ended democracy whoever you are.
“You cannot swear in people who have not met constitutional requirements. If you do that, you have done something unlawful, something unconstitutional. And I am repeating it, whoever does not meet the constitutional requirement must not, must never be sworn in. You said my name. If you like I can say it again. I am Datti Baba-Ahmed.”
In the aftermath of that TV rant, we have seen all sorts of ridiculous things including how a group of protesters under the aegis of Free Nigeria Movement took to the streets of the FCT to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to annul the February 25 presidential election and set up an interim government. More ridiculous is the call by some others for military intervention,just because their preferred candidate lost an election.
And who would forget in a hurry how a Labour Party supporter, later identified as Obiajulu Ujah disrupted a Lagos-bound flight at the Abuja airport for at least one hour during which he was captured on video shouting that other passengers should not allow President-elect Bola Tinubu to be sworn-in on May 29, before he was ejected from the aircraft by security operatives while calling on all ‘Obidients’ to stand by him.
There are suggestions that Mr Ujah, said to be a PhD holder, and who has since been arraigned in court may have some psychological issues he had been dealing with. It had since emerged that an airline operator, Aero Contractors, had on same day, prevented him from boarding because it suspected that he would be a flight risk.
The backlash and reactions that trailed Ujah’s action on board the Ibom Air flight are also a testament to the post-election blues phenomenon.
Rather than condemn what no airline operator anywhere would tolerate in a post-911 world, LP supporters came up with all sorts of silly conspiracy theories, chief of which was that Ujah is an APC sympathizer out to misrepresent their party.
It was so bad that they described him as the husband of a staff of TVContinental and went ahead to show pictures of one Obiajulu Ugboh who appears regularly on TVC’s ‘Your View’ as his wife,to prove the link to APC and Tinubu.
One of the party’s campaign spokespersons even went on air to reaffirm that shady line which eventually elicited a threat of litigation from the woman who maintained that she has no relationship with the flight disrupting Obidient.
Now, the post-election blues situation is so bad that anyone with a different political view stands the risk of online abuse while the leadership of the party looks on. Some personalities that have gone through this include the Chairman of one of Nigeria’s biggest banks, UBA, Tony Elumelu, whose only sin was that he dared to host the President-elect in his home in Lagos, few days after the outcome of the election was announced.
It is against this backdrop that Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, issued a statement recently that amongst others, spoke to what he described as “missives of violence directed against dissenting voices, real or suspect.” which according to him “have culminated in the open intimidation of the Court of Last Resort, even before proceedings have begun.”
Not surprising, Soyinka’s intervention opened him up to a volley of insults and even a former CBN deputy governor, Kingsley Moghalu was not spared by social media trolls for daring to back the Nobel Laureate.
So Nigeria is firmly in the middle of post- election blues which according to psychologists is quite normal after an election that is as contentious as what we just went through especially with the manner that all sorts of questionable opinion polls had raised hopes of an upset by LP’s Peter Obi.
One of the symptoms of post-election blues is depression which has been famously recognized as one of the five stages of grief, along with denial, anger, bargaining and ultimately, acceptance.
This presupposes that it is phase that will pass sooner than later. Or will Nigeria’s post-election blues be different?
Dapo Okubanjo writes from Abuja. He could be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.