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Just Before the General Elections



2019 ELECTION: Editors warn politicians, security agents

By John Chukwu…

The general elections are nearby. Nigeria is on the brink of another democratic history. Thus, Nigerians are in the mood to hit the polling units with their Permanent Voter’s Cards – PVCs. Nothing dominates the discussions and gossips of people, nowadays, like the elections. Security agencies and/or operatives are in high spirits to secure lives and property – against any mishap on the election days – in any area they are deployed. Politicians vying for different public offices have done everything they could in campaigning and securing the votes of the electorates to themselves. The Independent National Electoral Commission – INEC – have trained the officials that will work at the polling units across the country. The election observers, from the international community, have already polished their shoes to come into the country and see how the electoral exercise will go. All eyes are on Nigeria.

This 2019 general elections will make it the 6th democratic exercise Nigeria will have since the return of democracy in 1999. I must be fast to say that we are making progress in our democratic history, despite the tiring, discouraging and depressing situations we have been immersed in, as a nation. I could remember the prophecy being peddled around the country that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2014. The so-called prophecy or prediction has it that Nigeria was only meant to last for 100 years; after the Lord Lugard amalgamation of 1914. Many believed this.

When 2014 came and went, the doom prophets designed another twist to their prophecy and said that after the 2015 general elections, Nigeria will finally collapse. This prophecy was looking like what will actually come to fruition when the presidential election results were coming in and it was clear that the then incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan, was losing. What rummaged through the minds of Nigerians was if President Jonathan fails to concede defeat, the country will be set on fire and thus, the crisis that will follow will eventually lead to its disintegration. However, President Jonathan conceded defeat. The rest, they usually say, is history.

Politicians are not smiling, in this 2019 election – at all. They are all poised to win. The tenacity with which they made judicious use of the media for campaigns – radio, television, magazine, newspapers and the social media – tells that they all meant business when they picked their forms to contest. They have all minced, curtsied and rhymed in packaging and marketing themselves for the electorates. All that is on their minds is to win and get sworn into office come 29th May, 2019. Sadly, not everyone will win. Some will lose. Definitely.

The struggle between the ruling All Progressives Congress – APC – and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party – PDP – for the presidential seat is the chief focus of Nigerians, in this year’s election. They are faced with the choice to be taken to the Next Level by President Muhammadu Buhari – of the APC; who is seeking to be voted in for another four years in office – or to Get Nigeria Working Again by former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar – of the PDP. Both presidential candidates have transversed the length and breadth of the country; campaigning, promising the people what they stand to gain, if they are voted into office.

It is pertinent to state that the electorates should not expect all promises made to them to be fulfilled. I believe they can still recall that prior to the 2015 general elections, Buhari who was a candidate under the APC promised to end medical tourism by public officials. He did not fulfill this promise as he ended up spending months in London; treating an undisclosed ailment. Buhari also promised to make one Naira equal to one Dollar – this promise was never fulfilled. Boosting security and economy among other many electoral promises were made by Buhari, as at then, but, the security situation got worse under him as the Fulani Herdsmen were on killing spree in many communities while the Boko Haram insurgency gathered weight, not forgetting the many security breaches across the country that made life a living hell for many. In the midst of these failures, President Buhari has promised to take Nigeria to the Next Level, if given another opportunity, by doing all that is right to make life better for the citizenry. This is contradictory and a bit confusing.

On the other hand, Atiku is promising jobs, jobs and jobs! Yes. The unemployment rate in Nigeria is extremely high. Nigerian youths are in desperate need of jobs. And creating jobs is one-key-thing Atiku is promising. The question is, will Atiku fulfill this promise, if he wins the February 16th presidential election? One cannot guarantee a specific answer, here. The answer to this question can only be answered if Atiku wins the presidential election, gets sworn-in and then, within two years in office, one can confidently give an answer to the question.

The in-thing is, as the electorates go to the polls, they should vote the candidates of their choice and free their minds of the promises made to them by politicians. When the people who won assume office, they can only pray for them to do the things they promised the masses while they were campaigning. This is important. Nigerians have had their good hearts broken several times due to the unfulfilled promises made to them by politicians. The South-east geopolitical zone, for example, know the meaning of failed political promises especially as it concern the completion of the second Niger Bridge and repairing of its federal roads which are simply nothing but death traps. Not all promises are meant to be fulfilled, after all. However, there are promises that should not be neglected – as they are too obvious to be ignored.

Read also: Nigerians, no hope in choosing between Herod and Nebuchadnezzar

The issue of vote buying has also dominated political discussions in the media and among people. There has been calls for people to shun the act of selling their votes. It is rather pathetic that some electorates have given in to this conscience buying practice. Some electorates are willing and eager to sell their votes as low a price like a thousand Naira. What electorates who sell their votes do not grasp is that they only end up mortgaging their rights and future. It is natural for a politician who bought the votes that brought him to power to ignore giving the people the dividends of democracy. He will just feel that he has settled the people and therefore, they should stew in their juice.

Vote buying has been discovered to be a vehicle which conveys the wrong persons into public offices. When the money bags who are incompetent for the office they are contesting for; buy votes and get elected, the people will be at the receiving end. The dangers and minuses attached to this political corruption – vote buying – is deadly to the development of any given nation. Hence, the need for people to stand strong and say NO to it.

Nigerians must kick against electoral violence – both the pre and post. The recent destruction of an APC vehicle, in Kano, by angry youths is very discouraging. No nation benefits from electoral violence. It only makes situation worst and heats up the polity to high heavens. The post-electoral violence of 2011 where over 800 lives was lost is like Egypt we need not to go back to. People’s property were also destroyed in great proportions. We get absolutely nothing in riding on this dangerous and backward lane. The Peace Accord signed by Buhari and Atiku should also be honoured by their supporters. Violence can only spell doom for us.

President Muhammadu Buhari has already expressed his commitment towards ensuring that the general elections will be free and fair. For the good of our democracy, I urge him to do all within his powers to keep his words. The people’s vote – and will – must count. We have passed the era of telling stories of election rigging. Nigerian democracy is a model for other African nations. I pray we uphold this. Meanwhile, make sure you go and vote on the elections days. God bless Nigeria.

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