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opponents of former dictator

Uzor Maxim Uzoatu's poem, We Shall Vote With Stones,
dedicated to former Nigerian military dictator, General Ibrahim
Babangida, is proving a rallying cry for Nigerians revolted by
the putschist's recent announcement that he will contest
presidential elections next year. The poem, reproduced on
The New Gong homepage, has not only circulated widely
among Nigerian internet communities, it got the singular
distinction of being read in church by pentecostal pastor and
political activist Tunde Bakare. The pastor, who has been
part of a new protest movement in Nigeria demanding good
governance and the end of political corruption, urged his
congregation to heed the poem's exhortation by adding their
voice to condemnation of Babangida's aspiration, seen by
many critics as provocative.

Babangida is part of a narrow circle in the Nigerian military
with the rare, infamous distinction of participating in every
successful coup in Nigeria since the country's independence
in 1960. In 1985, he carried out one for just himself, toppling
General Muhammadu Buhari  and quickly assuming the title
of president. He went on to preside over Nigeria's descent
into the abyss: the liberalisation of corruption, reckless
plunder of the treasury, the massive impoverishment of the
country's population, the obliteration of the middle-class, the
dispersal of the country's intelligentsia and best talents to the
West. Periodic executions of those accused of plotting to
topple him were held and his regime oversaw the novelty of
the assassination of a leading journalist by having a letter
delivered to his house, with all the tell tale signs pointing to
the regimes agents. Babangida, the described himself as an
"evil genius" capped his records by annulling 1993
presidential elections reputed to be Nigeria's freest yet, as
the ``wrong" candidate appeared headed to victory.

Forced to resign by the nationwide revolt that followed his
action, Babangida beat a hasty retreat, declaring he was
"stepping aside" and paving the way for General Sani Abacha
to unleash his own reign of terror. Having watched things
from his luxurious retreat in the city of Minna, built with his
spoils of office, for 17 years and testing the waters from time
to time, Babangida, perhaps, thinks its safe enough to wade
in. But The Poet warns: We shall vote with stones!

We Shall Vote With Stones
(To General Babangida)

We shall vote with stones
Now that ballot paper stands annulled.
The comeback mutant courts
A hail of stones cast as votes.

It is incumbent on stones
To vote for our evil genius,
The power incarnate
That turned sap to stone.

Stoned, he engineered
Nomadic transition and annulment.
Stone naked, he fled
From war and history.

- Uzor Maxim Uzoatu