By Bayo Fasunwon
The battle was long and fierce and at a time, it seemed as if there would be no end to the trauma. The different groups were sure that the cradle was theirs by right, and the child that occupied it was an outcast, an unwanted child whose mother used all forms of deception to sit him in the coveted seat. Such was the scenario that greeted the much anticipated 2023 general elections. A lot of intrigues, verbal assaults and physical abuse prepared the ground for the epic battle. Unfortunately, many government policies aimed at turning the outcomes of the elections were enacted and executed despite public outcries.
Unfortunately, these draconian executive orders led to loss of lives, and irreparable damage to both many families and the nation as a whole. Shall we also recount the spiritualization of the entire process? Suddenly all Nigerians became prophets or followers and echoes of emergency prophets who spoke as they were led by whatsoever gods. Permutations were also rife that led to the redefinition or rather clamour for the redefinition of indegenes. Against all odds, the elections came, winners were declared, and announced losers were not ready to either drop their tails or lick their wounds. It seemed that there would not be another day to try and win, so the courts must decide those who voted and for whom they voted.
Despite the social media banters, insults, bully and assaults, it is commendable that the various political parties opted to go to the constitutionally approved method of seeking redress, election tribunals. For the Presidential elections, it took one hundred and seventy seven days of legal battle; media incitement and the internationalization of domestic issues, before the Supreme Court finally announced that of a truth, and within the technicalities of Law, Bola Ahmed Tinubu-the Emilokan of Nigeria having polled the highest number of valid votes remains the elected President, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
However, there are lessons to learn from this. In the first instance, the people’s votes were less in contention. INEC, despite the challenges still ensured that in most cases, valid votes presented were the true representation of the people’s desires. In this light, it would be foolhardy of any Nigerian in subsequent elections to boycott our civic duties of voting on the pretext that votes do not count. This therefore calls for more orientation on the need to participate in subsequent elections.
The different political parties, civil societies, media and all other socializing agents have the next four years to educate and mobilize more Nigerians to the polls, in order to make elections more competitive and ensure that the best candidates emerge as our leaders in this country. Furthermore is the need to engage the use of more technology in the voting system. This should cover the areas of vote monitoring, casting, collation, dissemination and pronouncements.
Therefore INEC could start the preparation of electronic voting system before the next general elections. Once these are being done, political accountability would naturally follow as vote buying and other forms of election misconduct would be drastically reduced, and eliminated with time.
Presently, since no further legal appeals can be entertained on the outcome of the Presidential polls; the various political parties should concentrate their efforts in appealing to the conscience and magnanimity of the electorate for future elections. However, this suggestion needs clarification. For the ruling class, their actions and inactions must tilt towards giving Nigerians a country in which all could breathe freely.
A country where the constitutional rights of the citizens are recognized and guaranteed; a country where policies, laws and activities are geared towards the peace and security of the citizens; and a country where the collective wealth of the citizens are given prominence over the self aggrandizement of a corrupt few. So, rather than ‘settling’ a few ‘vulnerable’ Nigerians with humongous unaccountable funds, efforts should be targeted at infrastructural development that would create an investment friendly environment for local and foreign investments. If these are done, then Legislators would not need expensive vehicles to navigate their areas of assignments. As long as the roads are vehicle worthy, production costs would be reduced and cost of living would be affordable.
For the opposition parties, irrational criticisms would not suffice. Creating an atmosphere of rancor, terror and disharmony are bad coins that would denigrate than uplift their deflated egos. It would be good for them to place the interests of the nation far and above primordial interests. This however does not imply that developmental criticisms should not be made, where necessary, but playing to the gallery must be avoided. Every form of incitement of the citizenry must be avoided, and they must be seen as having the true love of the country in their hearts.
It may be time to visit their various constituencies and contribute to their infrastructural development, and win the hearts of the people at the grassroots by providing incentives for community and agricultural development. Furthermore, these parties must review their constitutions and rules in such a manner that internal democracy would be promoted and enhanced. A house divided against itself would never stand, so it is time to put their houses in order, as they prepare for forthcoming elections.
For President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Emilokan 1 of the World, it is quite easy to preach that he should be magnanimous in victory, but Machiavellian politics would not advise such. It is however more practical to advise that he and his cabinet must not dissipate their energies on settling scores with perceived enemies. The time is too short and slim to devise means of crushing perceived foes. Rather, energies and intellects must be geared towards national development, economic ascendancy, national stability, integration, cohesion and protection of our hard earned sovereignty. It is time for PBAT to hold a meeting with his appointees and tell them that their jobs are not secured. For them, security of jobs must be tied to measurable performance indices. While their success would boost the acceptability of the President and the party, their failures would of course give more energy to the opposition, and turn the citizens against the President. Therefore, it is time to work, rather than celebrate.
To all Nigerians, it is the end of discussion to all issues on the past election or judgments. We cannot move forward by looking backwards. Irrespective of individual perception on the judgments, it is time to accept the verdict of those who have the constitutional final say, and work with the present government to move Nigeria forward. Therefore, let us give services where it is needed, obedience as our civic duty, and information as our obligation to this government. We should not withhold advice, when we have such and cease not to educate our neighbours where ignorance is shown. Now, the survival and triumph of this nation is our collective responsibility. Let there be no schism in the body. Now, we are no longer BATISTS, ATIKULATES, OBIDIENTS or REVOLUTIONISTS. Rather, we are Nigerians who owe obligations to the country, Africa and the World, and we shall not fail.