Elections Nigeria must win
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan’s closing statement at the last presidential debate that the elections will hold according to the revised timetable is both helpful and reassuring coming, as it is, shortly after the communiqué of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), on the inviolability of the March 28, and subsequent elections.
Against the backdrop of what appeared to be an orchestrated, multi-pronged attempt to tamper with the new dates, the body of media owners had taken the firm position, that ‘the the general elections must hold on March 28 and April 11 as scheduled,’ that ‘it must be free, fair, and held in such a way that it will deepen the nation’s democracy such that at the end of the electoral process, Nigeria must be the winner.’
On the strength of Dr. Jonathan’s publicly stated commitment only days to the elections, it is now taken as settled that the elections will hold.
It needs to be recollected that starting from the doubts expressed by the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki in faraway London, the people of Nigeria, as well as concerned members of the international community, had been subjected to psychological stress by suspect pronouncements, subtle and overt acts of functionaries of the Nigerian government that hinted at a possible shift in the date of the election.
And indeed the February 14 presidential election, and subsequent ones were unrealisable for such reasons as that the voting cards and other materials were not fully on ground, and also that the nation’s security apparatus was not fully prepared for the task.
Notwithstanding its much-touted value, no one should gloss over the fact that Nigeria’s reputation suffered. Characterised by empty campaign claims and reputation-damaging tactics, this may go down as the most anxiety-ridden pre-election period in the history of the country.
With the new dates only days away and the electorate waiting with trepidation, friends of Nigeria have urged politicians to behave responsibly and put the nation’s interest above all else. The U.S. President, Barak Obama and the Ghanaian President who is also Chairman of the Authority of Heads of States of ECOWAS, John Mahama have urged a peaceful conduct as well as transparency in every respect.
Obama, in a poignant reminder of the consequences of getting it wrong, said that ‘To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done,’ and he urged all Nigerians to ‘come together and keep Nigeria one.’
Given the desperate campaign tactics of the two leading political parties (and it is confounding how an honest desire to serve the people of Nigeria would drive these less-than-noble measures), there are good reasons to be concerned about the conduct of the election process as well as the response to the outcome. But let it be said directly and unequivocally that no person’s or group’s interest is, nor can be bigger than Nigeria.
Therefore, no one’s ambition should bring this country to harm. Meanwhile, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah has reportedly expressed doubts that elections cannot hold in parts of Boko Haram-ravaged northeast Nigeria on the grounds that ‘not all structures of governance have been re-instated…’ That is not a tenable excuse.
If, according to INEC figures, personal voter’s cards (PVCs) have been successfully distributed, at least 80 per cent in these areas, notwithstanding the security situation, then it behoves the military that has so far put up a commendable effort, to provide the conducive situation for INEC to do its job this time around.
But of course, politicians must lead by the example of eschewing everything that may either excite or incite their followers into misbehaviour. If in truth the motive is to serve, there can be no justification for utterances and actions that may destroy the people and consume the country.
Nigeria is at a crossroads and the road taken portends implications of epochal proportions. Elections shall hold on March 28 and April 11; candidates shall win or lose and Nigerians must rally behind whoever emerge as winners. In sum, Nigeria must be the winner in these elections.