2023 Polls: Managing Our Fault Lines
NIGERIA’S general elections have gone but we are glad that despite the prophecies, political analyses, and pre-election maneuvers; which pointed towards thunder, fire, brim stones, sand and blood; the 2023 elections held, mostly peacefully and joyfully. Although there were isolated cases of disruption, malfunctioning of technical tools, and unfortunately preventable deaths, the election was better than imagined.
HOWEVER, we observed with regrets the sprouting of certain fault lines that have implications for the continual existence of Nigeria as undivided sovereign entity and the sustenance of our growing democracy. Certain extraneous factors that affect governance and unity were brought to the fore, magnified and became deciding factors over merits, competence and unity. Therefore, we remain bold to say that political apathy, voting patterns and post-election agitations in the 2023 elections were outcomes of selfishness rather than rational thinking and actions.
BEFORE the elections, we had warned that campaigning along ethnic and religious lines portend more danger for the nation than its imagined contribution to winning the elections. Unfortunately, this election was seen in clearer ways than normal the conflict between the two dominant religions in the country. The voting patterns also clearly laid the foundation for future religious confrontations. The unrestrained utterances and participation of religious leaders in the electioneering process have further divided the people in different parts of this country. We fear that in the years to come, many policies that could have been beneficial to the nation may not fly as religious meanings could be insinuated thereby killing such polices on arrival, and the nation would be worse for it.
ALONG ethnic lines, it is unfortunate that while President Muhammadu Buhari had laid the foundation for suspicion and hatred during his eight-year rule, by the ethnically lopsided appointments, and the lackluster handling of the activities of terrorists of the Fulani descent; former President Olusegun Obasanjo is fanning its embers by insisting that a particular geo political zone is hated by all in the nation. The outcome of this is seen by the claim of Lagos by some, and the threats to determine who owns the economic capital of Nigeria. Gradually, the seed of xenophobia and genocide is being planted and watered.
FURTHERMORE, our warnings on the politicization of economic and monetary policies fell on deaf ears. Now, by policy somersaults and reversals, the nation’s economy is stared with recession in its face. When impoverishment, and economic handicap become a clandestine policy of governance, commitment, national development and attraction of Foreign Direct Investments FDI, become a mirage. So, with these political policies, citizens and intending foreign investors have realized that government may not be trusted to promote entrepreneurial activities as well as secure investments. We may soon witness the mass exodus of business organisations, local entrepreneurs and capital flights from the country. A national economy that seeks to thrive in a competing global environment ought to seek and pursue healthy policies and not vindictive steps to gain power or make others lose by all means.
IF the planned NLC strike eventually held for a day, Nigeria would be worse for it. Strikes must be prevented at all costs, as they portend danger, given the inciting utterance of politicians over the last held elections. We had insisted that while free and fair election is the ideal in any political system, there may not be a hitch free election.
HOWEVER, given that the Constitution and Electoral Act had foreseen such scenarios and created avenues of redress, we are not careful to describe the inflammatory remarks and vehement utterances of certain politicians, including their disintegrative protests as acts of disloyalty with divisive intentions and calls for bloodshed. If the Judiciary could in times past, and recently too, restore mandates to the aggrieved, it is expected that those who truly wish the best for this nation should channel their energies towards getting their facts and figures together to win at the electoral tribunals rather than post fake news, videos and information that seek to appeal to emotions rather than the reasoning of legal provisions. We remind our political gladiators and bad faith losers to remember the causes and consequences of the Nigeria Civil War, as well as the media induced Rwanda genocide.
IN all these, the ball is in the court of the Federal Government now. The Presidency must ensure that fences are mended, and the laws are enforced to ensure that this nation does not implode. Furthermore, the Peace Committee of retired General Abdulsalam Abubakar must call a meeting of all the gladiators, caution them and guide them into seeking judicial redress rather than enforcing the rule of the jungle that would do no man any good. While INEC should immediately study this election, discover the loopholes, and begin the process of having better elections in the near future; the incoming government must ensure that appointments and distribution of executive positions, as well as the dissemination of justice must be void of ethnic and or religious colorations. A government of inclusion and altruism must be installed so as to ensure that Nigeria rises up from its ruins and takes her topmost position in Africa and the world.