2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS AND THE POWER OF UNIFIED VOTES
Habila Isah Kayit
It is no longer news that we have just about Three Hundred and Eight (308) days to the presidential elections and the declaration by President Mohammadu Buhari to contest for the 2019 elections has been greeted with mixed feelings by Nigerians. It is expected that for a time like this the entire political atmosphere will be saturated with heated argument for or against the emergence of some leaders. It is a normal phenomenon and is acceptable the world over.
While we have people who believe the President has done well with the mandate given to him by Nigerians and should be given another opportunity to man the affairs of the country particularly in the areas of Security (Management of the dreaded Boko Haram group), initiating robust economic policies that saw Nigeria out of recession, the fight against corruption among others. The critics of the President Buhari led administration have argued that for Nigeria to move forward we need a leader with capacity to manage the heterogeneous nature of the country and must be a nationalist to the core. He or she must be someone who is conversant with the challenges of handling a multi-religious and multi-cultural/ethnic society and be familiar with the 21st century global leadership trends.
The Buhari led administration has been criticized for one-sided appointments, nepotism and religious biasness. For many Nigerians, this government has failed to meet up with its campaign promises as such continue manning the affairs of our country is needless. The security challenges Mr President promised to address have no end in sight; the general welfare of the citizens is in bad shape creating serious hardship to the citizens. The increment in the petrol pump price which was aimed at ending the subsidy regime saw Nigerians sleeping in petrol stations in search of fuel. The anti-corruption war is perceived to be one-sided and a tool used to hunt the opposition by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) while its members who have cases with the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and for those who recently joined from the People Democratic Party (PDP) have been declared saints. This is evident in the list of corrupt citizens provided by the government with no single name of an APC stalwart.
The opposition who are supposed to repackage something meaningful to the citizens having been out of power for a while and feeling the pains of the common man have lost their voice probably due to the role some of them played in the past and are scared that their pending cases with the EFCC might be revisited. Instead of standing tall with the people, we hear one apology or the other from the supposed strong opposition with less action and more lamentations with no stronger drive to provide the platform for better engagements.
Nigerians have lost confidence in most government establishments due to the decay in the system. These from time past have created room for citizens to discredit some elections owing to the abnormities and lack of sincerity involved. There is need for functional institutions to boast citizen confidence in providing unbiased platforms to make our voices and choices count. This will not happen unless we make a strong demand as citizens to be allowed to determine who governs us and at what time through a free, fair and credible contest. For me, it did not come as a surprise when a former deputy senate president, Sen. Ibrahim Mantu made an open confession in a national television stating roles he played in aiding election rigging in the past. This is just one among many cases leading to the imposition of incompetent and undesirable people as leaders. That explains why we are still nursing the damage caused by those imposed leaders till date.
The menace of bad governance has affected every facet of our lives. It deprives us of good medical health care, robust economic activities, poor educational service delivery, inadequately provision of infrastructure and superstructure amenities, inability to protect lives and properties as it ought to among others. The actions and inactions of the Nigerian voting population will rob on us either positively or negatively. It is instructive to note that bad governance effects do not know any region, religion or ethnicity. It has resulted in the untimely death of many citizens due to poor medical care, lack of organized transport networks, inability to manage security challenges and much more.
Sadly, Nigerian politicians share a lot in common and will always pursue their interest at the right time. Within the political class, you see them protecting one another and marrying their sons and daughters within their circle irrespective of party affiliation while the poor masses are busy killing themselves in the name of political parties. Suffice to say that all political platforms going by their manifesto mean well to the citizens but in practice, APC or PDP are all the same.
The quest for better governance and political education was reawaken and it was the only reason that saw an incumbent president losing an election in Nigeria for the first time in 2015. It is important to note that the social media has further helped in driving this demand home. Therefore, 2019 is going to be a redefining year for Nigeria and Nigerians. The general election will certainly determine the shape the country will take and how best our challenges will be managed. As a country, we need energetic people who understand the complex nature of our challenges as a whole and are equipped with sincerity, readiness using their experiences by adopting global best practices in placing the country in its rightful place. It is not enough to have a fantastic President with ill equipped lieutenants. It will do the country good if from the state houses of assemblies and national assembly we have responsive and responsible law makers whose interest is the general well being of the citizens and state governments who have plans to transform their states for the common good.
To salvage this country from the hands of bad politicians, the electorates will need to stand in unison. This will require that we put away all differences and focus on the things that matter which is fronting and supporting a candidate that will help in restoring our lost fortune and place us back in the league of global players. We must seek to have credible elections irrespective of the forces standing against it. It should be a resolve for the Nigerian citizens because the choices we make will determine the prosperity of the enclave called Nigeria. Political platforms should not determine our choice of candidates. Citizens must seek to understand the drives behind every aspiration and should judge each aspirant based on his manifesto. Nobody should be deceived into creating trouble for any aspirant no matter what they have been given or promised. No life should be lost in the name of election. Therefore, citizens must promote peace at all cost and also conform to the rules governing every electoral setting.
Can we have unified voters who will shun every form of divisiveness by politicians and seek to have quality representations? Would religion, ethnicity and sectionalism define our voting pattern in 2019? Should we allow credible persons irrespective of their political platform to drive the affairs of our country for good? The power to fix the challenges bedevilling Nigeria is in a unified vote. God bless Nigeria.