It is sad that 58 years after independence, we are still grappling with the provision of basic necessities of life such food, clean water and electricity for the people.
As Nigeria turned 58 on Monday, three recent incidents point out the fractured nature of our polity and politics. They also provide glimpses of what the battle for power at the various levels of government in 2019 will look like. In Osun, the recent contest for the governorship of the state took an interesting dimension as the largely three-horse race between the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Gboyega Oyetola; Social Democratic Party’s (SDP) Iyiola Omisore and the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) Isiaka Adeleke, ended in victory for Oyetola.
Oyetola won after a rerun poll was ordered at seven polling units where over 3000 votes were cancelled, because Adeleke’s initial margin of victory in the main election was just over 300. The order for the rerun, which followed a pattern that had been set in about five other previous elections, set many watchers of our politics on edge. Many Nigerians had apparently not taken notice of that aspect of our Electoral Law which provides for the declaration of an election as inconclusive, in the event that the margin of victory in a poll is lower than the total number of cancelled votes.
The rerun was a straight fight between the APC and the PDP, with the latter having its fortunes bolstered by the support of the SDP candidate, Omisore. In the final analysis, the APC had a convincing victory, which can only be successfully challenged if the section of the Electoral Act which provides for rerun elections when the number of cancelled votes is more than the difference between the two leading candidates is set aside. But then, that prospect is a long, long way ahead, so the APC is set to consolidate its administration of the state and continue the execution of its programmes.
In Lagos State, the APC primaries scheduled to hold yesterday has been the big news of the last fortnight as the effort by the APC in the state to draw the carpet under the Akinwunmi Ambode administration has been generating so much bad blood that the primaries had to be postponed.
The crux of the matter in Lagos is the bid to deny Governor Akinwunmi Ambode a second term in office over sundry alleged offences, while the party leader and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, lent their weight to another candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Governor Ambode, however, gave the man a blow below the belt with his allegation at a Press Conference that he had a criminal record having been arrested for spending fake dollars in an American night club some years ago.
Ambode also claimed that the man had undergone rehabilitation at the State’s Gbagada General Hospital and was therefore unsuitable for the office of governor. It is sad that the battle for the APC governorship ticket has become such a serious subject of contention with claims and counterclaims of President Muhammadu Buhari’s attempt to influence the process.
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And on Monday, Nigeria marked its 58th independence Anniversary with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dogara, conspicuously missing. The celebration, beyond the speeches, military display and flag flying, saw President Muhammadu Buhari reeling off a list of achievements for which he has been taken to task by many Nigerians, especially the opposition PDP.
The President is of the opinion that the economy has made progress and that his administration has created enabling environment for local and foreign investments, while the opposition harped on the nation’s ranking as one of the poorest countries in the world.
The government also rated itself well, saying it had been focused on the issues that directly affect Nigerians, such as security, the economy and corruption. Meanwhile, there is the widespread impression that the President had done little on the war against corruption as only very few persons have been brought to justice, in spite of humongous sums stolen from the public treasury.
The endless wrangling between the Presidency and other stakeholders in the country is an unfortunate one. It is sad that 58 years after independence, we are still grappling with the provision of basic necessities of life such food, clean water and electricity for the people. The country should have long passed this stage and joined other nations of the world in the march towards development and a knowledge-driven economy.
All over the world, advances are being made in medicine, engineering, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and the lot, while we continue to grapple with how to feed our people. The problem, however, is not only with the Muhammadu Buhari administration. It is one that has been manifest at every level of government over the decades, seemingly lending credence to the treatise that there are some demons in Aso Rock that twist the brains of our leaders to the wrong side wherever they move to the seat of power in Abuja. If that were not the case, how is it that the nation appears to be going in an endless circle of underdevelopment? Certainly, the Buhari administration is trying to pull the country out of the economic doldrums and underdevelopment, but many Nigerians seem not to be seeing it, or feeling it. This unsavory situation encourages the worsening of this situation as the leaders and the people are hardly ever on the same page on the state of the nation.
Worse still, we have a legislature that is unable to empathise with the people and also do what is in their best interest at all times. Instead, they are interested in paying themselves huge salaries while the rest of the people wallow in misery. How else do we explain a situation in which Senators and members of House of Representatives pay themselves salaries running into tens of millions of naira every single month, while the ruling party at the centre is unable to do anything about it in a kind of rub-my-back, I rub-your-back acquiescence? In all these, it is the ordinary Nigerians who are the losers.
There is the unending problem of epileptic electricity supply that has rendered our industries uncompetitive. It is also partly responsible for the massive job losses put at about 30 million. The problems of bad roads, signposted by the Lagos – Ibadan expressway and the unending promise of the second Niger Bridge are also still there.
Our educational institutions and healthcare services have virtually remained at a standstill, from one government to the other. It is obvious that what the country needs in a real turnaround in every aspect of life, to be able to bequeath to ourselves and our coming generations a country that we can live comfortably in, and be proud of, in the comity of nations.