Elections for the reason of what they represent, even in the most civilized climes have been known to herald varying degrees of uncertainties. For an exercise that oftentimes connote bickering, bloodshed, mudslinging, betrayal, high level unrest, and in most cases violent clashes between supporters of rival political parties which culminates in wanton destruction of lives and properties, care should be taken not to instigate violence of any sort as 2023 beckons.
Expectedly, since ideologies differ between different political parties as is always the case, there’s bound to be conflict of interests, collision and always a tendency for mayhem to be unleashed at the end of every electioneering season arising largely from disagreements over the freeness, fairness and credibility of the process. Moreover, irrespective of how fair an electoral process was perceived to have been, dissenters are bound to arise!
Even in unilateral, mono ethnic and highly civilized societies, the outcome of elections have been known to bring about bad blood, backstabbing, divisions etc among erstwhile friendly and peaceful neighbors and fratricidal tendencies amongst relatives.
For a country like ours with its glaring diversity, multiculturalism, multi ethnicity and inbred animosity of its largely uncivilized populace, the outcome of the 2023 elections will no doubt more than any other factor determine our continuous existence or disintegration.
While perpetrators continue to feign indifference regarding how the brewing ethno-religious crisis could pan out, those fanning the embers of intolerance and beating the drums of war should know from history that uprisings have always been known to be nondescript.
Exactly thirty years after the 1993 presidential election where electorates shunned trivial considerations such as party, religion and ethnicity to vote candidates of their choice based on self-conviction in a never-before-seen manner, the 2023 election is already mired in ethnic jingoism of brobdingnagian proportions following the emergence of three frontrunners perceived to ‘represent’ the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Regardless of the glaring patriotism in the actions of the young Nigerians whose collective resolve is to take their destinies in their hands and correct the anomalies that has continuously bedeviled our political space, mischief makers continue to insist that their involvement is to scuttle the chances of certain candidates hence their own resolve to repel them by all means.
Considering how terrible things have become in the country when compared to others, it is unthinkable that there are still people who will go to any lengths to maintain the status quo and resist change.
Despite being adjudged the fairest election since the history of Nigeria by International Observers considering that in a rare feat in this clime, not only did the Social Democratic Party (SDP) win the election despite running a muslim-muslim ticket, its flagbearer MKO Abiola a yoruba man defeated Bashiru Tofa, the candidate of the National Republican Convention (NRC) in his homestate of Kano.
Like none other, the aftermath of that election till date leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Nigerians with echoes still reverberating in their minds almost 30 years after. There’s no gainsaying that the outcome of the 1993 election shaped our present electoral culture.
As the 2023 election year draws nigh, tempers are expectedly rising with threats and counter threats being bandied without recourse to fundamental human rights by footsoldiers of candidates across ethnic lines, threats of fire and brimstone have become the order of the day.
While it is the responsibility of the police and other sister agencies to provide security during and after elections, contestants’ nonchalance in cautioning their supporters and followers to avoid unnecessary heating up of the polity by their unsavory utterances is suggestive to say the least.
To avoid further complicating matters, INEC as the umpire should not leave anyone in doubt of its neutrality. Situations whereby people are allegedly ambushed and prevented from accessing PVC registration and collection points is simply unacceptable. The authorities not taking actions to address harassments at PVC registration points simply affirm fears of their complicity in rigging the process to alter the outcome. The obvious travesty of the aspirations of a particular ethnic group to the presidency in Nigeria, makes it impossible convincing any rational human that their inability to get registered for the PVC is not a calculated attempt by the system to disenfranchise them. Incidences from past elections whereby polling stations considered to be the stronghold of a particular party are attacked, ballot boxes seized and the ballot papers littered on the ground should have severe consequences.
The electoral process from registration and collection of PVCs to actual voting and collation of results should be seen by all to be free, fair and credible. No group should be made more superior or less inferior in a country that lays claim to deriving its strength from its diversity.
With the active involvement and participation of the youths who make up about 60% of the population in the 2023 electoral process, the amended electoral law which supports electronic transmission of results real-time and the resolve of the Nigerian people, it is safe to say that the 2023 elections will throw up surprises.
Unlike election years in the past, the surge in the number of willing applicants mostly young Nigerians approaching INEC registration centres for the PVCs is unprecedented and clearly indicates a re-awakening among the otherwise recalcitrant youth population and a clear deviation from the norm where loss of faith in the electoral process was widely acclaimed for voter apathy. Cases such as PVCs being withheld under the guise of unavailability only for same to be later recorded as uncollected also contributed to low voters turnout in the past.
However, with the palpable angst in the country and the vast majority of the youth population hoping to vent their spleen through participation in the coming elections any attempt(s) to deprive them of that opportunity will be disastrous. The voter awareness that is sweeping across the land can only be likened to the #endsars revolution which was eventually sabotaged.
As a people, we are at a point in our national life where we can’t afford to continue playing to the gallery any longer, it’s about time we let go of ethnic, political, religious or whatever leanings and do what’s best for all. We cannot afford to bequeath a failed country to the next generation, whatever decision(s) we make at the polls next year will either make or mar us. Gone are the days when primordial sentiments are allowed to be becloud our sense of nationalism. Let’s do what is right, let’s vote for the right candidate in 2023.