A Call To Celebrate/Grieve Responsibly

Recently, social media was awash with photos (and videos) of ‘graduates’ from the Isa Mustapha Again 1 Polytechnic (IMAP) Lafia celebrating in all sorts of ways. They had just written their last paper and in what is now common practice, they were ‘signing out’ on each other’s white shirts.

The practice in itself is not bad and it can even be fun at times. And it was indeed fun until some students decided to take their celebrations to the ‘next level’. Some of the students took it from writing on white shirts to writing on white panties. It was truly an eyesore and the Rector of the polytechnic, Dr. Justina Anjiode-Kotso had to warn the students to desist from such acts.

Completing your studies at the Polytechnic is a milestone in your life and no one is saying you should not celebrate. But apart from the fact that there are certain things that a right-thinking human being should not do, you should realize that there are far greater heights that you should aim to attain than completing studies at the Polytechnic. How will you now celebrate if you – for instance – complete your Master’s Degree, or PhD or win a lucrative contract? Don’t you think it makes more sense to save some of the celebrations for such greater accomplishments?

This commentary is however not solely about the immoral celebration by the IMAP ‘graduates’. This is about a more recent happening; the ruling by the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal (GEPT) that declared David Emmanuel Ombugadu winner of the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the State.

As expected, a declaration of such magnitude and with such implications will trigger a wide range of emotions. It is not our desire to stop anyone from expressing such emotions. It is just that we realize people have a tendency to go to the extreme when it comes to emotions. Indeed we have already observed some extreme reactions.

It is not a problem if you celebrate the ruling because you feel it is in your favour. It is perfectly fine to sing, dance, give people gifts, express gratitude to God and whomever you feel played a part in it.

What is not fine is rubbing it in your supposed opponent’s face. It was reported that people were taking their celebrations to homes and business premises of known APC loyalists just to taunt them. This is very wrong. There is a common saying that where your right stops is where another person’s right begins. Respect everyone’s rights.

On the flip side of the coin are also extremists. It is okay to be sad because you feel the ruling of the tribunal is not in your favour. It is okay to lament. What is not okay is for you to hurl invectives at persons you feel are responsible for your loss or those who are simply celebrating their victory. There were posts on various social media platforms that contained what could best be described as hate speeches directed at those who were celebrating. This is not good.

Although there is really no ‘right time’ to go extreme with celebration or grief, there are many reasons why this time in particular is certainly not the right time. Firstly, the tribunal is just one out of the three legal steps to be taken in this process. Engr. Abdullahi Sule has already expressed the desire to appeal the judgment of the tribunal as it is his right. And with politicians, you can be almost 100 percent certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal in Makurdi, this case will go up to the Supreme Court in Abuja. What then is the point in all the celebrations and grief when the process is not yet over?

Just like the polytechnic students excessively celebrating completing their studies in the polytechnic when they should be focused on going further to attain greater heights, do you not think it is premature to excessively celebrate/mourn the ruling by the tribunal? If you are doing all these now, what will be your reaction when the Supreme Court delivers its judgment which is final?

Another reason why the excessive celebrations/mourning is worrying is our concern that it is coming from a place of selfish interests. If the goal is to see a greater Nasarawa State, why should you be excessively happy or sad about who is declared Governor? Could it be that you are sad simply because ‘your own’ has been removed from office or that ‘your person’ has been declared the winner? This kind of mentality will not take us anywhere as a people.

What is playing out clearly is that we are unable to manage our victory or loss. Talking about being magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat! We indeed need to be sportsmanlike at elections. The moment you accept to go into an election, at the back of your mind should be the incontestable fact that, as long as it is a contest, there must be a winner and a loser. Regrettably, in Nigeria, despite the fact that we have spent over 24 unbroken years in democratic dispensation with periodic elections, our politicians prepare only for victory and never leave room for defeat.

In the weeks ahead, in Nasarawa State, we charge, that there should be decorum in the conduct of the people as they either celebrate or grieve. We should be responsible, there is life after election!

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