The 2019 polls have come and gone, but we are still enmeshed with a rancorous outcome that may take several months to resolve. The politicians are now focused on getting the best of legal luminaries to either defend their victory or retrieve the electoral triumph they were denied. Lawyers are now the beautiful brides of both victorious and defeated political candidates, and it is their season to smile to the banks. To those who allege that electoral heist stained the recently concluded polls, never in the history of Nigeria was brazen electoral robbery displayed than the one witnessed in the 2019 polls.
Democracy, being a process and not and end in itself, can be ruined by desperate politicians. For Nigerian politicians, most of whom are incurable optimists, they quickly cry foul in the face of electoral defeat, claiming their loss was made possible by the manipulative forces of the opponent. Hardly would you come across a political candidate who accepts defeat as a fair outcome. Unlike in 2015 where it was generally agreed that the elections were hitch-free and transparent, the recently concluded polls, according to observers, were generally marred by violence that culminated in the deaths of no fewer than 35 persons and hundreds injured. The bitter truth about Nigeria’s politics is that it is founded on a deceit and treachery through deployment of state and other dark forces to swing victory. The ultimate aim in a Nigerian political contest is the attainment of victory at the polls, no matter the cost. No stone is ever left unturned by political candidates to attain complete conquest of opponents at the polls. For many politicians that are conversant with this trend of thought, it is far more acceptable to unleash an electoral heist and be victorious than play by the rules and be forced to kiss the dust. In essence, it is preferable to fight against your opponents from the corridors of power than fight from outside. That perhaps explains why incumbent political powers are wont to unleash public funds, including deploying government agencies, to undermine their rivals during elections.
Nigerians witnessed a different scenario in 2015 when President Goodluck Jonathan declared that his ambition was not worth the blood of any Nigerian. He walked his talk by the way he accepted his loss to the All Progressives Congress’ candidate in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari. Not a few expected a replication of what happened in 2015, but the outcome of the 2019 polls reveal that there is a long walk from 2015 to the 2019 polls, with politicians not willing to imbibe the virtues of the fisherman’s son from Bayelsa State. How the current legal tussles over the outcomes of the 2019 polls end will hinge on the decision of judicial officers working at the election tribunals. While Nigerians await the final determination of the acrimonious polls at the courts, efforts must be made to move away from the smokes of legal contestations over the outcome of the polls by engaging forces behind dialectics that are opposed to good governance.
Most of the first tenure of the APC-led federal government has been troubled by challenges that should have been turned into stepping stones for greater human strides. It is commendable that President Buhari continued with development projects of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when he became president in 2015, but he spent too long a time blaming the former ruling party for the nation’s woes. Of course, Nigerians knew that the country was in a bad shape and needed a total overhaul. So, harping on the rot of the past without rising to the occasion by tackling these challenges head-on proved a bigger threat to the nation’s corporate existence. Nigerians paid dearly for Buhari’s lacklustre disposition in tackling some of the issues that accounted for Jonathan’s loss at the 2015 polls as shown in the current gale of challenges bedeviling the country. It is this apparent failure to hit the ground running that took the fire out of the APC administration, thereby slowing down the art of governance. Less than two months to the expiration of the first tenure of the Buhari administration, the challenge of insecurity has continued unabated, with Boko Haram pounding Borno and some parts of Adamawa and Yobe states. Thousands of Nigerians have been killed in the North East zone by this militant group, with Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, gradually becoming a global headquarters of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). From Zamfara to Taraba, Kaduna to Benue and Nasarawa to Plateau, among others, the cold blooded murders of citizens have cast a gloom on the country.
The promise to tackle the monster of unemployment by the government has become a mirage, as the nation’s 800 small and medium enterprises have closed shop, leading to over 20 million job losses since 2015. Industrial disharmony in academic sector has imperiled performances, with our universities, polytechnics and colleges of education shut down for several months.
With the victory of the APC over the PDP in the recently concluded polls, there are familiar signs that the lacklustre trait as displayed in the past by the ruling party may return. Already, the race for the leadership of the National Assembly is gathering hot airs, with the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, joining the throng in overheating the process ahead of the formal inauguration of the 9th National Assembly. Though it is implausible to assume that the Presidency should not be concerned with whoever emerges as Senate president, however, such moves must be on a subterranean platform. Oshiomhole ought to have imbibed decorum and maturity in trying to sell their party’s choice candidate for the Senate top job without necessarily deploying an arrogant disposition in forcing such a preference down the throats of APC members in the National Assembly. In line with the doctrines of separation of power, the executive arm of government should not be seen to be occupying the front seat in determining who emerges the leader of another branch of government, especially the one that will oversight it. If such is eventually foisted on the legislature, a period of crisis occasioned by high turnover of leadership may return to NASS as experienced during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo when five Senate presidents were elected from 1999-2007. Apart from unleashing a negative devastating impact on the quality of legislative leadership, such high turnover of leadership, if allowed, is capable of weakening and compromising the independence of the lawmakers.
More importantly, demands by various geo-political zones in the country to be carried along in key appointments should not be neglected. It is assumed that in enlightened climes, once elections are over, proper governance does not discriminate against anyone, irrespective of party affiliations. The greatest threat to democracy is the alienation of people in a democratic setup whose anvil is founded on popular will of the people. The PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, is in court and should be encouraged to go the entire process in reclaiming a mandate he claimed was denied him through an electoral heist. While the legal firecrackers continue, the APC should not let down Nigeria by re-enacting its failings when it took the party over six months to constitute its cabinet in 2015. The frightening clouds of uncertainty and the urge to return to serious business of governance are now imperatives in order to stave off further attempts by evil forces to plunge Nigeria into irreversible doom.
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