Different administrations in this country had applied different methods to tackle corruption, poverty and hunger, maladministration, ethnicity, insecurity, unemployment, disused infrastructure, and other endemic social ills without luck. The rate at which these problems grow these days gives one cause for concern.
The situation can better be appreciated when we compare it to other nations that are relatively poorer and even smaller than Nigeria.
I recall those glorious days when Nigeria was almost worshipped by other African countries – when it was amiably referred to as the ‘Giant of Africa.’ In those days life was indeed a pleasure to relish. What do we have today? Countries, such as Ghana, Angola, Liberia, Burkina Faso, and even Senegal have recorded more encouraging results economically, socially and politically than Nigeria. Unbelievable but it’s a fact!
Take, for instance, Senegal, which in their last polls, conducted globally accepted elections that have set a record that may be too difficult to beat by many African countries, including Nigeria? In the elections, the incumbent President, Abdoulaye Wade, was roundly defeated by his challenger. And without much complaints, he willingly handed over power, paving the way for a smooth succession. What do we have in Nigeria in a similar circumstance? Victory at all costs and do or die elections.
Tell me: when will it be possible for a sitting Nigerian President or Governor to accept defeat, if defeated in an election, and willingly hand over? I wonder if it will ever happen in my life. It is a general belief in Nigeria that once one is in power and seeks re-election it is automatic. It is this erroneous belief that fuels electoral malpractices during elections.
Elections in Nigeria are like war: everybody wants to win, even if it involves killing and maiming. This has made it difficult for us to grow our democracy to an acceptable international standard. It may not be wrong to conclude that what we have in Nigeria are no elections, but manipulations.
How can you call them elections when those in power use the machinery of government to force themselves or their cohorts back into power? How many incumbent governors, members of the House of Representatives, senators and members of State Houses of Assembly lost their seats in the last general elections?
Almost all of them won – either by hook or by crook. This does not mean there weren’t those of them who won re-election on merit. Honestly speaking, there were a few of them that worked very hard to merit their re-election. But what of those that didn’t win on merit?
My concern lies mainly with the majority of them who clearly did not achieve anything tangible in their last tenure to warrant re-election. They knew they did nothing concrete for their people and yet unashamedly sought re-election and ‘won.’ As far as I am concerned that was sheer robbery.
Is it not worrisome that despite their criminal acts during the elections these people still walk the corridors of power freely and draw large emoluments from the collective sacrifices of the poor and hungry who are daily coerced by government officials to pay taxes and rates?
There is need to restructure our electoral system to make it better attuned to the needs of the people and meet global standards. Instead of embarking on electoral reforms we spend valuable time on frivolities, hoping that once elections come we would use state power to coerce the voters to do our bidding. It is only through free and fair elections that the leaders we desire can emerge. Period!
When this process is contrary, the result is usually very grave. It also seems a tradition for every election in Nigeria to lead to violence and petitions thereafter. For as long as I know, there was no election that had not attracted negative publicity in this country.
Was it the 1999 elections or 2003 or 2007 or 2011? Name it. In some cases, politicians deliberately manipulated election results with the hope of doing magic at the tribunals to retain their seats. The desperation among the political class to win at all costs is growing geometrically, with each election bringing new turns in rigging and violence. In fact, it is feared that 2015 will make or mar Nigeria. God, please help us in this country!
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