Truth be told we have had elections in Nigeria, yet none has come with as much expectation, trepidation, enthusiasm, skepticism, intentionality, ethnocentrism, aggression, annihilation, deception, Faith, resilience, bravery and external expectations as the 2023 general elections.
For the first time in a long time my tongue was tied in all the conversations unfolding towards the election and during the election , I was speechless not for lack of what to say but the depth from where my conviction came, the evaluation and the true picture that represents Nigeria and it’s citizens.
The 25th of February 2023 was both a trajectory and a tragedy. A trajectory that has come to redefine citizens participation in election and how resilience is often mistaken for resignation by bad leadership. The tragedy however is the glaring picture of the failure of our institutions and the role they play as the Achilles heels in a democratic setting.
Nigeria is home to one of the largest youth populations in the world with a median age of only 18. About 64 million of its 210 million people are between the ages of 18 and 35 and we saw their resolve in this election, women ,young women and men alike in their ensemble without apologies to who’s ox is gored.
Many young Nigerians are angry. They’re seeking retribution against the political oligarchs
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who categorically stated and presented a budget estimate of N355 billion before the Senate Committee on INEC, led by former Kano State governor, Kabiru Gaya and even while presenting his budget projection before the Senate Committee on Appropriation last December, said his commission would require N305 billion as projected expenditure for the 2023 election, which was subsequently approved.
INEC stated that N2.6 billion would be used on expenses such as printing of ballot papers, result sheets, forms and envelopes, logistics expenses, honorarium for officials, supervision, RAC preparation, security/intervention support, among others, yet regardless of all the summary of approvals ans releases election materials came very late to a lot of polling units lacrosse the country including the FCT. So where lies the truth in the preparedness of INEC for this election? Or was it a feel good address to distract Nigerians from the obvious? How is it possible that some areas where there was no voting was seen to have accumulated results? The alleged accusations of party logos been removed from the voting sheets or the movement of a whole LGA elections to one central field in the LGA Council Headquarter which is believed to have contravened the electoral guidelines?
The political parties also leaned on the normalization of threats, all edged bribery of electoral officers and impunity to disenfranchise voters who were not in their parties using violence, intimidation and complicity of party agents.
Can the institutions that have so consistently told the Nigerian people that they were ready for this elections prove with the outcomes so far that they were?
One would have thought that the nigerian leadership and its circle of cabals would have learnt their lessons by now or better still come to retiring with a need to remedy the wrongs done to Nigeria, yet what you seen is a desperate sardonic attempt to recycle nigeria amongst these elites and their cohorts.
The lessons learnt from resilient citizens willing to go the whole mile to recover their country back from the treacherous cycle of bad leadership is brought to the fore by two countries in view.
One country that comes readily to the fore is Kenya.
William Ruto’s emergence as Kenya’s fifth president represents a paradigm shift in the country’s politics. Ruto’s campaign was comprised of a mass movement of workers, the jobless and peasants and sought to distance itself from the dynasties that have long run Kenya’s politics.
The inability of successive Kenyan presidents to effectively manage the country’s diversity and resolve historical injustices culminated in unprecedented post-election violence in 2007 – 2008 resulting in the death of over 1,000 people and the displacement of 350,000. Following the 2017 elections, the country witnessed yet another bout of post-election violence that culminated in the 12 dead and 100 injured.
Perhaps the biggest success of the 2022 elections is that Kenyans demonstrated commitment to move past the country’s history of electoral violence.
Indeed, the success of the elections presents Kenya as a model for other African countries to emulate, as peaceful elections serve as a force multiplier toward national cohesion.
Next is the rancorous uproar of the people of Sri Lanka who went up in arms against their government, their tiredness and anger evident in the protests that rocked the Indian Ocean island nation.
Quite instructive is that the the anti-government uprising was provoked by rising food prices, general inflation, fuel shortages and rolling power cuts, the rage a veritable lesson to developing countries that economic hardship and political repression can quickly set the masses against the political leadership.
The beginning of the unrest in Sri Lanka can be traced back to late 2021 when the cost of living began to increase. Simultaneously, the country, under the leadership of the Rajapaksa brothers — Gotabaya (president) and Mahinda (prime minister) — witnessed a huge fall in the value of its national currency. By March, the rupee had declined against the United States dollar by 30 per cent. This curtailed food and fuel imports. Food queues became the order of the day and many were forced to skip meals. Lack of medicines accentuated the health crisis.
By April 3, thousands of Sri Lankans had trooped out to the streets, calling for the resignation of the government.
Sri Lanka’s crisis offers lessons for incompetent leaders in Nigeria, whose democracy is also in turmoil despite official pretensions, with its political and economic future worrisome. Nigeria is indeed undergoing similar economic tensions escalated by the poorly implemented Naira swap which has left millions of Nigerians further impoverished and plagued by the twin evil of electricity shortages and insecurity, particularly terrorism, kidnapping, Banditry and secessionist calls. It is without an iota of doubt that the concentration of power and mismanagement in Nigeria have been unholy.
However is Nigeria Ready and are Nigerians sensitized enough on these lines by both their politically literate citizenry and the traditional institutions?
Are the institutions willing to understand that the people are it’s first prerogative than the system it serves?
Whoever wins will face a litany of crises. Africa’s most populous nation is struggling with Islamist insurgencies in the northeast, an epidemic of kidnappings for ransom, conflict between herders and farmers, shortages of cash, fuel and power, as well as deep-rooted poverty
While Nigeria faces a dire economic situation, The next Nigerian president’s biggest challenge may be overcoming the country’s legacy of ethnic politics and building national cohesion.
Indeed Now that we have all voted, the true democracy lies not just in casting our ballot but in counting the ballots and making sure that it represents the aspirations and yearnings of every Nigerian.
“Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, non-ethnic and environmental justice – that struggle continues” -Bernie Sanders
▪︎ Adaora, a broadcast journalist, wrote from Abuja and could be reached via:
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