Averting The Dangers Inherent In Democratic Elections In Nigeria

As usual, when elections are in the corner, the polity is inundated with all kinds of negative developments. From the political gladiators, all kinds of insinuations and character assassination are being made on opponents thereby ridiculing them and subjecting them to odium with the attendant collateral damages to their character. Conversely, the jobless masses are recruited as thugs to commit heinous crimes such as killing and maiming of political opponents, to destroy their properties and in some cases undermining the corporate interest and survival of the country.

The jobless and out of school children who are in millions are easy recruits for these dastardly acts.
Today the situation is worse because we are faced with political, economic, social and security challenges.
The political challenges are not far fetched. There is a clamor for restructuring which is tearing the nation apart. A lot of people feel shortchanged in appointments and sharing of the spoils of office. There is a Cold War going on between the two arms of governments namely the Executive and legislature which brought about stagnation in the running of government. It took more than 6 months to get a budget passed. Presently there is standoff on the issue of the incarceration of Senator Dino Meleye.

The Senate has vowed not to consider any request from the Executive until the senator is freed. The party primaries, especially that of the ruling party left much to be desired because it was characterized by violence, unfairness and to say the least, it resulted into all kinds of changing parties even amongst some big guns like Governors. It became so bad that APC in Zamfara and rivers states are not likely to present candidates for the federal and state elections.

In the economic front, the people are poor and hungry and live from hand to mouth. We went into recession, but we are marginally out, but the economic recovery is a bit slow. Because of the problems being faced by the economic downturn, the labor market is saturated with plenty of people pursuing a few existing jobs. The downturn of the economy had caused consternation in the system with the attendant upsurge in crimes.

The social challenges are found in the poor educational and medical facilities which have decayed and in dire need of resuscitation.

The most daunting is the security challenges which appear insurmountable with the attendant disastrous and catastrophic consequences. Insurgency popularly known as Boko Haram has taken a turn for the worse. They are reinvigorated and strengthened. A hitherto ragtag Militia has been transformed in a modern fighting force with sophisticated weapons and first-class military tactics. They have been decimating our fighting forces with a high degree of precision and with huge success. The clashes of herders and farmers have taken a frightening dimension in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Nasarawa states. Hundreds of lives and billions of Naira of properties have gone in flames. Cattle rustling and armed banditry have become a way of life in Zamfara state and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna state. Militancy has been quite in the Niger Delta state, but we don’t know what will happen during the election period. The most threatening secessionist threats posed by IPOD has been decapitated in South East, although the kingpin of IPOD is issuing threats from his hideout allegedly in Israel calling for the boycott of the elections in South East. Whether the threats will be effective or empty is, for now, a matter of conjectures.

These to me are the threats posed to the conduct of the election this year, which shall be conducted in less than six weeks. How do we check these burgeoning tendencies?

The first step is for this government to work hard to ensure a credible and transparent election that will be acceptable to the local and international communities.

All hands must be on deck to work out a robust security architecture containing both proactive and reactive measures to have a violent free election.

All competent men and women that are fair-minded, patriotic, just and fear God, be assembled to conduct this election.

In order to conduct a credible election, all logistics and funding arrangements should be put in place before, during and after the election.

Nigerians and the entire world are looking up to the president to honor his words that he will conduct a free and fair election, devoid of rancor or violence. It’s hoped that this promising nation with huge human and material resources doesn’t go in flames because of the hiccup in electoral matters, but rather it will emerge stronger, more united and more peaceful and prosperous nation. To buttress the onerous task before PMB, let Me quote from Gen Murtala speech when he went for the extraordinary meeting of OAU on 11th January 1976 to discuss the independence of Angola. The speech was titled “ Africa has come of age” and the relevant quote for this piece is “ Africa has come of age. It’s no longer under the orbit of any extra-continental power. It should no longer take orders from any country however powerful. The fortunes of Africa are in our hands to make or mar.”

Incidentally, PMB was Gen Mohamed’s boy because he was a military Governor under Gen Mohamed, being made military Governor of North East. As a discipline of Gen Mohamed, he should be fearless as his master. Nigeria has come of age and nobody, no matter how powerful will determine

what we should do. The fortunes of Nigeria are in our hands to make or mar. As our leader, we want PMB to emulate his mentor by being decisive, fearless and be bold to take decisions that will make us and not mar us. Although Gen Murtala Mohammed only spent only six months in power but left enduring legacies. The only way that PMB will make his mentor happy in his graveyard is to conduct a credible election.

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About the Author: Fenny Fwa

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