Dark Days

 There are some days that you are just sad, downcast and you feel tired of everything. 

There are days when you sometimes feel ashamed of your identity, your circumstances and what you have going on in your life. 

You feel overwhelmed. You feel like you have no power. You feel like no matter what you do, things will not change.

These are the days I call the "dark days". 

The past few days I have been quite down. Not because of anything happening to me personally, but because of what is happening at the moment in a country I identify with. 

25th February, 2023 was a day of voting in Nigeria for the national elections. As a country we were promised free, fair and transparent elections. 

A lot of people who had long lost faith in the elections were willing to participate this time. And why is that? Because they had renewed hope that we have a chance to elect a leader we want. And there was guarantee that there will no malpractice of any sort regarding this election.

People went out very early to vote and they did not just go out early, they stayed there until electoral officers came, some came as late as in the evening but people waited patiently. 

They voted and waited for their votes to be counted in their presence and recorded. These votes were meant to be uploaded in real time to the website, so people can click and confirm that the votes counted in their presence match with what was uploaded online. 

But for some reason, this system known as BVAS did not work right. Issues with quality of images of recorded count and issue of uploading on the server began to come up such that it took about 48 hrs or more to get these results uploaded. 

Coupled with that, there were issues of voter intimidation in some areas, where some people have said they were told to leave the voting stations if they were not going to vote a particular party. 

Despite all these things, Nigerians voted and were patient to ensure the issues were rectified. But these issues were not rectified and collation of final results is ongoing. 

Some party reps who raised these concerns at the collation center where the results are expected had to walk out and called for a re-election. On the grounds that the systems which Nigerians were promised would ensure this voting was free and fair did not work as promised. And rightfully so with reports from different Nigerians. 

All of these issues weighed me down as a person who identifies as a Nigeria. I was sad that at this level in our development as a country, we still have these things bothering us as issues. The least we could do is ensure a free and fair election by ensuring that all parties agree that there was a high level transparency in the voting and recording process. 

It is easier for a party to accept defeat when they know that the elections were conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner. But expecting these persons to accept results that have been manually collated due to failure of the system that was meant to guarantee credibility of the polls is just unfair. 

Thinking about this as a young Nigerian weighed down on me and made me relate this to other issues in my personal life too. I felt people who don't even know me judge me once they see my country is Nigeria. I felt people from around the world have a bad impression of all Nigerians because they see these kind of things about us on the news. 

I felt bad that I would have to carry on with this negative perception from people who don't know me. It's such a difficult thing to live with a bad tag. 

This whole voting, complaining about the issues with votes and days of collating results with delays upon delays.. was what led me to these dark days.

That was why I have not written anything the past few days because mentally I felt bad about the shame this election issue is bringing to all citizens of Nigeria.

I talked to international colleagues who know me about my feelings concerning this and they reassured me that they have no such perception about me and that I should not allow my internal dialogue tell me that everyone was judging or perceiving me wrongly because I am from Nigeria. 

I really needed to hear that. It's so sad when all you want is the best for yourself, your family, your country and the world at large but you feel like no matter what you do, people perceive you wrongly. 

I should not be worried what people think about me but I know some people judge you based on where you come from and the very little they know about that place. Hearing from other people made me realize not everyone thinks that way and people judge you based on who who are and how you relate with them. 

That really helped. 

I don't know about you or what could lead you to dark days of mental stress, it may not be due to issues in your country like in my case. It may be something else a breakup, loss of job, death of loved one etc. It could be anything. 

My assurance to you is that it will pass and you should mind the internal dialogue you tell yourself in such situation. Also try to talk to people about how you feel and seek for advice. Words really matter and you will gain better perspective from experienced people. 

What happens in our internal dialogue when it seems everything is falling apart is that our minds keep on playing the cases of bad outcomes over and over for us. We need reassuring words from others to break out minds out of that cycle. And this is why talking helps a lot. 

So, if you are facing dark days or if you ever face them at anytime, know that it will pass and the darkest moments is just before Dawn. 

Keep winning!



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