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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Securing Nigeria’s destiny beyond 2023

By Afolabi Aribigbola

As Nigerians entered the year 2022, the 2023 general elections gained more momentum becoming the most significant issue and activity dominating or trending in the socio-economic and political landscape of the country. In a nutshell, all activities and actions are now linked or connected to this very important election that has been slated for the first quarter of 2023 by the Independent Electoral Commission of Nigeria (INEC).

The 2023 election in the country is very important as it will come when Nigeria is witnessing one of its worst crises in all spheres of life. It is an election that offers good opportunities to elect good and upright leaders that have national interest as against primordial considerations exhibited by some current leaders. It is hoped to throw up leaders that have the capacity and passion to construct and reconstruct the badly damaged social life and economy of Nigeria and leaders that can correct the lopsided appointments and disproportionate distribution of economic development projects, infrastructural facilities, and services. The list of things to correct is endless.

Of course, it is an election in which Nigerians should not repeat past mistakes of electing weak, parochial and nepotic leaders and people of questionable characters that are widespread in the political space at present. Indeed, the performance of many legislators are nothing to write home about, while, several are very docile with poor attendance at parliamentary meetings. Many are only good at dolling out droplets in the name of empowerment and palliatives to bribe electorates instead of focusing on issues of policies that can shape the life of the people and the future of the country.

The polity is already inundated with serving political office holders that cannot effectively manage their states or constituencies traversing the country seeking to become the President of the country. Ordinarily, such individuals ought not to have the courage to come forward except in a banana republic where quality and standard are not the yardsticks but sentiments and big pockets. Suffice it to say that people who have not performed creditably should not be allowed to come back or seek higher positions. A stop must be put to this ugly trend.

INEC has now rolled out the timelines and timetable for the 2023 general elections to the various offices from that of the President down to that of States’ House Assembly members. Consequently, political activities that were hitherto undertaken underground and in low tones have picked up in earnest and several politicians are now crisscrossing the nooks and crannies of the country presenting themselves and their preferred candidates for elective positions especially for the all-important office of the President of Nigeria. Thus, this is the time to assess and set standards for those who will occupy those positions. It should not be for all comers and those without record of good performance. Anything short of this will not lift Nigeria out of the present doldrums and hopelessness as it is capable of taking the country backward

If anything, Nigerians must organize before and during 2023 elections to get good and competent individuals into the various elective offices. This will aid in changing the destructive tendencies and narratives associated with the present realities in the country. It will also assist significantly to properly shape the destiny of the Nigeria that is at the precipice at the moment. This is essential because the country is witnessing dangerous dimensions of happenings in recent times. It will be an understatement not to indicate that Nigeria is facing humongous insecurity in all parts of the country. Insecurity is very high to the extent that available information indicates that about 220 people were killed and 64 abducted in the first week of 2022. Killings by headers continue unabated as if human lives don’t count again. Kidnappers and ritual killers are still operating with impunity.

In the economic realm, the country is not doing any better. Inflation is very high as prices of basic or domestic products are rising every passing day beyond the reach of average Nigerians. Unemployment and underemployment are also still very high. Food insecurity is a source of serious concern as many people cannot provide food for their families. In the area of basic services such as health, education, potable water supply, and electricity supply the record of performance is abysmally poor and very disappointing. Inspite of all these mounting problems the government seems helpless in addressing the hydra headed problems of the country and yet is proposing to increase the prices of petroleum products. This will invariable be translated to increase in all consumer products with dire consequences increasing poverty in the country.

In 2023, Nigerians must look for men and women of strength of character, courage and stamina to pilot the affairs of the country if we are to get out of the present disquietude prevalent in the country and get the country working. As noted earlier, the political terrain of the country is dominated by people who do not possess what it takes to occupy political office. Also, many of the leaders are poorly educated lacking in finesse of leadership but imbued with aggressive violence to force themselves on people as well as sustain themselves. Many lack the capacity and passion to lead in a desirable way. Of course, it is a known fact that majority got into political office not because they want to contribute nor possess what it takes to contribute to societal development, but essentially for what they can eke out of the system. Conversely, people that possess what it takes to lead often don’t have the resources to fund election. And when they get to office by providence, they are quickly shoved aside and pushed out of office. The consequence has been the dominance of incompetent and naïve individuals in control of the affairs of the polity.

The essence of the above is not to continue the culture of complaining or the usual blame game but essentially to draw attention to the flaws and omissions in our system for the simple goal of seeking solutions to them. Thus, concerted efforts must be made to bring into office people of impeccable character who are ready and imbued with what it takes to represent the people in reality; not people who will not visit their constituencies after elections until another election is around the corner, then will come around a few months to election to share money and commodities. We need to search for credible people that can initiate and contribute to feasible policies that can improve the lives of the people and take the country forward.

If the country must change the negative retrogressive tendencies and actions common everywhere, the need for reorientation and upgrade of mindset becomes essential so as to be able to get the right set of people into position of responsibility and authority. The present overwhelming monetization of the electoral process and actual elections that favour the highest bidder cannot produce credible dispassionate leaders that can take the country forward in the spirit of the twenty first century where societies are innovating to better the lots of their citizens in all spheres of life.  We need to elect people that can propel desired sustainable development. The electorates should begin to reject and resist election riggers and those who want to buy their votes. The old African tradition of rejecting bad individuals should be reenacted and quality service should be the yardstick of picking political leaders.

The government should lead in devising laws and policies to revamp the polity. The quick resolution of the proposed amendment to the electoral law is the starting point and should be completed without further delay.Finally, if the future of Nigeria is to be guaranteed, efforts must be made to redress the present practices that permit unsuitable individuals to occupy important offices where they cannot perform. There is the need to promote merit and ability to deliver in all spheres of our national life especially in politics that determine all others.

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