It is no gain saying the fact that the 2019 elections are pivotal to the success and sustenance of the country’s democratic structures and credentials. It is a time people believe there should be consolidation of governance after a change of guard and baton in the facet of governance in terms of political heads.
In 2015 something unexpected happened. In the country’s political history, an opposition party won the presidential poll in mysterious and enigmatic fashions. This sent a signal all over the world that Nigeria’s democracy had transcended the nascent stage and now reaching a matured stage. The 2019 elections would be a time to really consolidate and build on the gains recorded in the 2015, adjudged to be substantially credible and transparent, even to hitherto cynical global community.
At every election Year, Nigeria is put on the radar across the world, being the most populous, resourceful and leading nation in Africa Continent. The global community is not oblivious of the fact that whatever occurs in Nigeria would radiate all over Africa, either positively or negatively. This necessitated the interest being shown by the global bodies on the need for political gladiators to be civil, cautious and play by the rules for the success of the polls. The 2015 general elections have really raised the state of global recognition for Nigeria. At that time, president Good Luck Jonathan and his main challenger and candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), Major General Muhammad Buhari put Nigeria’s interest above theirs. They displayed statesmanship and that disappointed the naysayers who predicted that there would be no Nigeria after 2015.
In actual fact, the tension that had pervaded the land after the Independent Nation Election Commission (INEC) lifted bans placed on campaigns had signposted that of danger. Politicians are exhibiting that element of desperation by their utterances and deeds, which gave pointers to the fact that the 2019 elections will be tough and arduous.
Hate speeches, which had been criminalized morally and legally, had taken over the polity. People are beginning to panic as to whether the prediction for 2015 may end up coming to reality next year. Politian’s seen unyielding to cautions from traditional and religious leaders and the war beat was becoming louder and creating tension on daily basis. A vivid dissection of the primaries conducted by the ruling APC and the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gave a signal that our democratic culture was fast waning and receding, rather than growing.
As of today, the APC members are at war with one another over governorship and senatorial contests in Imo, Rivers, Zamfara, and Adamawa and Ogun States. Some of their members are now in courts challenging the credibility of primaries in this beleaguered State. Various courts’ judgment had even gone against the party and fettered its hands from nominating candidates for governorships. This is not a good signal one should be proud of. PDP which supposed to be more cohesive to be able to wrest power is not better off. The party is factionalized in some states and the crises emanating from these are sending jitters to the political hemisphere of the country.
After 19 years of democratic practice, one expects a saner politicians or leader to think more about the people and not self. One expects a man positioning himself for leadership not to view Nigeria from a narrow prism but from a broader perspective that would be in the overall interest of the country. They should look at those factors that would build a virile and workable system that could guarantee free and fair elections not the one that would eternally favour a section or a party. Any country that values democracy would know that a truly independent security outfits and electoral commission remain the bedrock of elections. So, for the 2019 elections to be huge success, all these institutions must work for Nigeria and Nigerians and not for the ruling class. The superintending officers of these agencies are being paid through tax payers and they should see Nigerian citizens as more of greater pipers than the few ruling class.
It saddened one’s heart to see those saddled with the responsibility of making Nigeria great playing politics with the collective destiny of the people. It was embarrassing to see the National assembly members throwing jibes at each other and toeing partisan lives when President Muhammadu Buhari was presenting the 2019 budgetary proposal on December 19, 2018. All these accounted for why the global community perceives us as democratically unserious nation and time remove this brand is now.
In the 2019 polls, the expectations of Nigerians are that; the political class must exercise restraint, the security and electoral institutions must be fair, neutral and apolitical, while the electorate must resist vote-buying for our electoral system to be concretized further and meets the expected global standard. All eyes are on Nigeria, hence the need for credible polls.
The viewpoint was written by Dalimore Aluko, Pricipal Grade III/(Assistant Principal), Ikere High School, Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State