Election Boycott Is a Potent Nonviolent Means to Eliminate Fear of the Oppressed for the Oppressor Government
by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD, MSc
Boycott is one act of civil disobedience which has been effective in history for those to whom violence is not an option. The subject and object of a boycott are numerous, depending on the opportunities and strategies. Election boycott is just one area. Under Martin Luther King Jr., for example, African Americans boycotted the city buses; and that forced a concession from white racists that helped pave the way to the Civil Rights Act and legal emancipation of the Black American eventually.
There are many people, well-meaning and all, who do not understand the power of a boycott. Ask Obasanjo, the then president of Nigeria about the first All-Biafra sit-at-home exercise of August 2007 spearheaded by MASSOB. He almost had a heart attack to discover that Biafrans had it in them to be of one mind and effect a nonviolent mass civil act of defiance. Like another lying leader of today, he then had to invent the lie that Biafrans were celebrating the New Yam festival, so they stayed at home en masse. But the shockwaves had already spread all over Nigeria: Biafrans still have the strength and the People power, and they can use them at will, with full effect.
Here are the points about a boycott:
1) It unifies people in a person-by-person mental activity expressed as a tangible physical behavior and manifesting as mass action. It makes people become of one mind in determined opposition to an enemy. No real enemy underestimates the power of an opponent’s boycott; that enemy is always afraid of an opponent’s effective boycott action.
2) It is cleansing; it assures and reassures the individual’s soul that he or she is not giving in to what he or she knows is an unfair and underhanded treatment of himself or herself by another party. It is a declaration that one does not support what is being foisted on one and will not participate in any way to facilitate or enable such an awful treatment. It leads to a regain of dignity and self-respect and morality.
3) It is nonviolent – which is not to say that the enemy will not use violence against you. Be prepared; they will. They always have.
There are erroneous views here that the last election boycott in Anambra state was ineffective or useless. Well, that is not the fact. The boycott rate was between over 60% to over 90% (I believe) depending on the district. That is victory; whoever is ruling the day after elections cannot claim a popular mandate. Over two-thirds of the people did not participate. The end result of an election boycott is not to shut the process down or to force people to not participate or to not have a winner declared the day after. No. A successful election boycott leaves a huge question mark on the legitimacy and or mandate of the government on the day after.
That may not mean anything to you, but it irks the shunned government and drives it crazy enough that it will start making unforced errors, moves that will add to the boycotters’ advantage. Furthermore, a successful boycott empowers the people by proving to them how strong they can be if they act with one mind with one focus. It is motivating.
The day 100% of Biafrans boycott Nigeria’s nationwide election, unitary Nigeria will be done for good and a self-determined Biafra will be born shortly thereafter. When you boycott elections, no matter what the government becomes afterwards, it does not have your support and is totally irrelevant to you in that state of mind, although same government will be doing everything to pepper you more. Soon, you’ll lose your fear of that government, and it will be all over – for any oppressive ruler. It is said that Martin Luther King’s pivotal contribution to the Civil Rights Movement is making Black folks to lose their fear of the racist Whiteman and his oppressive, violent and vulgarity against the Blacks.
So, unlike you asking for 50 – 80 million Biafrans to go and vote in Nigeria, I urge all Biafrans to boycott all Nigeria’s elections henceforth. All Biafrans voting in Nigeria have not changed our fixed misfortunes in Nigeria. But all Biafrans boycotting all elections in Nigeria will liberate Biafrans in the end. Election boycott will be only one of so many other strategies.