Robert Obioha; 08111813041 [email protected]
The 2019 general elections will be like no other in the history of the country. It is one election that every eligible Nigerian voter will like to participate. Even Nigerians in Diaspora have been clamouring to vote in their countries of residence or through e-voting, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is yet to introduce. The road to 2019 will be bumpy as usual with all Nigerian elections.
The recent ward congresses of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have underscored the bumpy nature of our elections. And the coming one will not be different. Nobody needs a soothsayer to tell him that it will still be a do or die affair.
It has not been otherwise. The political contest in 2019 may go beyond party basis. It may even go beyond the tribe, sex or religious lines. The age factor may or may not play a major role even as the youths will be out to try to take over the country.
But they should know that the country does not belong to the youths alone either. The country belongs to all of us, the youths, the aged and others. We all have equal stake in the politics of the country. All those constitutionally allowed to contest for election including the aging ones must be allowed to exercise such rights. They should not be excluded from the race whatsoever.
One interesting thing about the forthcoming elections is that men and women, all stakeholders are enthusiastic about the exercise. Africans and people in Europe and America and even Asia are interested in how the elections will go. Restructuring is one issue that is yet to be settled in the country. It will feature in the election campaigns.
Even though the ruling party promised restructuring, it has been dancing over it. There is no sign that the party is interested in restructuring at all. This is one issue that dominated the Ohanaeze Ndigbo recent summit in Awka, Anambra State.
The Igbo position on the future of Nigeria is well known. The Igbo want equity, justice and fairness, they want a balanced federation where the federating units can manage their resources and contribute to the centre a certain percentage just like in the former regions.
They want a rotational presidency that will ensure that every geo-political zone takes a turn at the coveted office which has eluded the Igbo for decades. They want one-term tenure of six years for governors and president. They also want the election of five vice presidents. They also want an additional state for the South-East to bring it at par with others that have six states.
They want local governments to be a state affair or a regional affair. They also want state policing to tame the rising criminality in the country. The Igbo also want governorship post to be rotated among the three senatorial zones of each state. Their demands are not so different from those of other zones in the country. Most southern states and even some northern states are in favour of restructuring the country, resource control and state policing.
The only problem is that the current leadership is not ready or wiling to do it. Also recently, some female lawmakers urged President Muhammadu Buhari to concede to women the number two position in 2019 poll. The women also asked Buhari to ensure that every three senatorial positions in the state, one should be given to a woman.
The leader of the women, Mrs. Elizabeth Ative, observed that ‘all over the world, the issue of twining is being advocated.’ She said that ‘currently, many African and European nations are daily finding ways to include more women in governance. Some have elected or appointed women as Heads of States, Prime Ministers, Heads of Foreign Ministries and other key positions of decision-making.’
‘It will not be out of place, Your Excellency, for women to be given such opportunities in our dear nation. Even God created them male and female.’ The president after cracking jokes over the women trying to take over the job of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, noted that women have been fairly treated. I believe that the women have made their point and they have made it loud and clear.
Although nobody has barred women from participating in politics, there are unwritten hurdles they will surmount before making it politically. It is even difficult for women to make it politically in Nigeria. The glass ceiling is still there. The political space in Nigeria is macho and patriarchal. It reeks of utter masculinism.
It is yet to embrace some form of feminism. It is for men of akpuobi, those that can engage in a do or die battle even in the night.
Women are financially circumscribed to participate in politics with the high amount of money paid for buying nomination forms and sundry requirements. The monetization of Nigerian politics makes it inimical and even toxic for female participation. This is, indeed, the message the women passed to Buhari and other Nigerians, especially the men in the form of ejima or twins. They want an equal pedestal to stand with men in politics to meaningfully contribute their quota to national development. Women should not be saddled with being on the chair of the women wing of the party alone.
They should not be compartmentalized or stereotyped with certain female roles. They need to be freed from the barriers that impinge on their participation in politics. They want politics of inclusion and not exclusion. They want a space in the nation’s political arena. They are tired of playing fringe roles.
What the women told Buhari is also a challenge to existing political parties. It is time they make allowances for women who want to run for elective posts.
This should not be a token. Another group that will surely make an impact in the 2019 elections is the youth. Like women, they have a large voting population that should not be ignored. Any where they swing their votes will surely make a huge difference. The youths are in the forefront of the Not-Too-Young- To-Run Bill which has been signed into law by President Buhari.
With the signing of the bill into law, the youths should be ready to go to the political battle field and prove that they too are capable.
These are the issues that will play out in the 2019 elections. Let no candidate joke with them.