GEJ vs. My Bald Patch – KK. Montana

Balding like Naomi Campbell?

I have always had long hair. Then disaster strikes, but it wasn’t sudden in fact it never is. So after 4 years of braiding my hair especially those tight cornrows popularly known as Ghana weaving, I woke up to bald patches at the front of my head. It was simply devastating as there was no escaping this unsightly frontal exposure of baldness.

No matter how long and full your hair is, those frontal bald spots is the first thing people see. So I turn to prayer. I always say a prayer for this front hair to grow back and may my head never witness such a bald spell again. I double up on the Mountain of Fire prayer point for hair with all kinds of miracle grow creams and ointment. This freaking hairline seems to be taking its dear old time in growing back, I guess I’m impatient or unreasonable, what took 4 years to destroy is what I want to fix in 6 weeks. Clearly I am delusional or simply believe in magic.

This brings me to the real topic at hand, Insecurity in Nigeria. In this campaign we have witnessed the touting of this administrations horn like never before. Every election is different even though it might feel the same but the style and approach is very different in combination with the national mood of the country. I guess the stakes are much higher with the advent of a better-organized opposition party the All Progressives Congress (APC); the battle for the beautiful bride, which is the Nigerian voter, is fiercer than before. Usually it would be a walk in the park for the ruling party- People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as they would cruise the country with the winning team, throw crumbs at unsuspecting villagers and win at the ballot box.

The dynamics changed in 2011 when a fresh face emerged and the story of the man with no shoes resonated with the man on the street. The campaign ads were many across several platforms and we saw the endorsement power of the entertainment industry rise to levels never seen before. It was an interesting time in Nigeria and it was good to see voter apathy reduced. Fast forward to 2015 and the polity is heated up in a much more negative way. The PDP that brought us the endearing story of the man with no shoes, that upgraded the quality of ads and really marketed its ‘fresh air’ concept to the Nigerian public, returned 4 years after with a less inspiring campaign. The tone of the campaign has been damaging as they focus on hitting the main contender General Muhammadu Buhari with very personal attacks. They return to instill fear in citizens about some agenda to Islamize Nigeria and if that wasn’t enough they embarked on making songs and videos of a General who is not educated. Admittedly some are really funny but one thing that strikes you is the lack of a message from PDP. They exaggerate their accomplishments with glossy commercials of transformation that is seen but not felt and claim credit for things that happened despite the government.

There is a really funny Television Commercial (TVC) that shows the president jogging and training in the gym to show he is fit and a team player. It’s quite hilarious as we are not sure why we need to see the Commander-in-Chief in the gym but I guess Nigerians might have a wish list for a president with a six-pack. My guess is it is better to cater for all than to isolate athletic Nigerians from the campaign. After all, they need the sports enthusiasts, athletes and gym owners on their side. With all the catchy jingles in different Nigerian languages, myriads of high quality TVC, billboards of the ‘winning’ team, online ads and celebrity endorsement (footballers and artists) something seems really hollow. Unlike 2011, this campaign by the ruling party lacks soul and fails to connect the common man to the President.

Why is this? The syndrome of the slightly bald hair is evident in this case. The country has experienced the worst insecurity since the civil war by the insurgents called Boko Haram. The past four years have been filled with frequent attacks all over the North. Over 15,000 lives have been claimed and over 3.3 million people are internally displayed, the highest on the continent and 3rd highest in the world according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Center. Major events that should have boosted the country’s profile were severely subdued by this bald patch of insecurity. This was evident in 2014 when Nigeria hosted the first World Economic Forum Africa meeting in West Africa and the celebrations of its centenary that went largely unnoticed.

So the campaigns are being run without a message and strategy to deal with this menace that threatens the existence of Nigeria as a whole. The President’s management of insecurity throughout his first term was even made worse as the ‘head in the sand’ approach was the order of the day. His style was characterized with a combination of weakness and indifference. The Presidents’ comments during press briefings such as “Terrorism is Global and maybe it is Nigeria’s turn” magnified this even further and confirmed the sheer lack of will to deal with the situation effectively.

As the campaign rallies go on in their glory, with the colorful costumes representing the culture of each State visited, the song and dance plus the beating of chest, the bald patch of insecurity looms as the big fat elephant in the room. Nigerian television stations are filled with coverage of the fanfare celebrations while international networks report a less colorful story. This is a story of the frequent loss of territory and the killing of the Nigerian people. I guess that’s why the campaign promises are so hard to believe this time. The country is clearly worse off than the one the President campaigned in 4 years ago. But like me they want to boast of their long hair but it’s just not possible. No matter the achievements of this government, that bald patch of insecurity is obvious to all. Yet they want us to look past the bald front and focus on the hair in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s the first thing we see, we just can’t get past it.

The bald patch was bolstered by the fact that elections were postponed 6 weeks; just a week before the set election date for “security purposes”. So as Nigerians head to the polls, one thing is for sure 2011 was a vote for the new kid on the block but 2015 might be a vote against the failed kid on the block. .

The President is definitely joining me in prayers for my bald patch as he takes time to traverse the different houses of prayer. Unfortunately, four years of neglect is a lot and no matter how hard he tries, front hair doesn’t grow back suddenly. How I wish it did.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light

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