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Fears over Nigeria’s stabilty, credible polls top citizens’ anticipation in 2019

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Saraki (middle) and other Senators taking oath of office

Nigerians from across different social strata, who expressed expectations and apprehension for the New Year to The Guardian, said ensuring a credible general election and security of lives and property were their major concerns.

But contrary to optimism that a credible general election would put the country on the path of stability and progress, the defunct National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, expressed sadness over the state of affairs in the country in 2018.

NADECO chieftain, Dr. Amos Akingba, noted that the country could not fair better given the perceived unitary system in operation and consequently declared that each of the country’s original three regions should go their separate ways.

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While urging Nigerians to stop deceiving themselves, Akingba said: “I expect Yoruba to regain her independence; the country can never work; we have different world view.

Our worldview is not the same as anybody else and theirs is also different. You cannot put a square peg in a round hole; let everybody go their separate ways.

“We are putting square pegs in round holes and such efforts, no matter how laudable, cannot work. That is the root cause of our problems. We are in self-deceit. We are liars and so our constitution is producing liars and thieves.

“For instance, Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) sometimes in its news broadcasts, claims that ‘Nigeria is one people, one nation. That is a lie. We are not one people. We are different peoples and we are not one nation.’ We are different nations; but we can be a nation-state but not one nation.”

He said the forthcoming 2019 poll would still bring in more sorrow, noting, “It is a useless exercise, and elections are part of the problem.”

But the former publicity secretary of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Victor Burubo, said his desire is to see that Nigeria remains a united country. He noted that the greatest threat to Nigeria’s existence at the moment is the politics of dirty tricks, adding that the forthcoming general election should be free and fair and that the will of the people should be allowed to prevail.  

Burubo said: “People should be able to make sacrifices for the country, and learn from the past. What happened four years ago, when President Goodluck Jonathan surrendered power before the final results were declared? He did not go into litigation to avoid tension in the land. Present politicians should learn from him. We should crave to pursue and promote peace. It is time we forget about the brooms and umbrellas and vote for people with credible antecedent. We all need to promote democracy.”

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On his part, a Second Republic politician and Ohanaeze chieftain, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said his expectation for the country is to become a productive instead of a consumer nation.

While remarking that most African countries are looking forward to Nigeria to move the continent forward, he said Nigeria needs to rejig itself on the state of the economy, stressing: “2018 was one of the worst years for Nigeria, and my expectations for the country in 2019 is that majority of Nigerians should join hands and move the country forward.

“Lets appreciate what is best for the country. We should not just be consuming; if we keep consuming we will not be better than any west African or African country. This is not good for our children and future generation.”

Erstwhile President of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said the greatest expectation for this year is for Nigeria to have credible and non-violent elections across the country.  

He asserted that when political leaders emerge through a credible electoral process, they would be genuinely concerned about the economic well-being of the citizens, stressing: “If people come to power through a credible electoral process they will do things to please the people who voted them to power. If they get to power through fraudulent means, they won’t be bothered about the citizens.”

Mitee noted that when politicians get to power through a credible electoral process, they will be better prepared to fix the economy, adding that the government should make assiduous efforts to address the security challenges confronting the country and improve the welfare of ordinary Nigerian.

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He pointed out that the security and welfare of citizens constitute the two fundamental principles upon which government is anchored, explaining therefore that the general expectation of the people is that there should be an improvement in welfare and security.

He stated: “2018 was a terrible year with the wanton killings in the Middle Belt; Boko Haram attacks heightened with military bases being overrun.  There was also the case of rampant kidnapping across the country. Once the security of the citizens is taken care of, the welfare will be enhanced.”

On the issue of the economy, Mitee urged the government to initiate policies to revive the ailing economy, even as he observed that despite government’s claim that Nigeria was out of recession, “the existential realities of the masses prove otherwise.” 

Speaking on the most significant event for the country in 2019, the national secretary of Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, said the expectations of the Yoruba nation in the new year is to get more progressive, forward-looking Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said being the year in which the general election will hold between February and March to elect a new president as well as governors, leaders that would come in should be those who will show more sensibility to the problems presently confronting the Yoruba nation.

On security the YCE scribe pointed out that “the herdsmen menace, their invasion of our territory has been very embarrassing to us; kidnapping our farmers, maiming and killing of our children, and destroying our farms.”

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He explained that it was for that reason that YCE has consistently called upon the leading presidential candidates to make definite pronouncements on nomadic grazing, which is already outmoded in developed parts of the world.

“This is also causing serious crises all over Nigeria, particularly in the Middle Belt, but it is affecting us in the Southwest, too.
Nigerians should embrace ranching, which is the modern and acceptable way in animal husbandry,” Olajide added.

He also noted that the Yoruba nation expects that whoever wins the Presidency in 2019 must know that Nigeria cannot make progress unless the system of government is completely reformed and the geopolitical architecture overhauled to recognize the diversity of this country.

His words: “Nigeria is a heterogeneous country; there is no doubt about that. We are many nations put together, but we the Yoruba see it as a divine arrangement, which must be managed properly, because we have a lot of advantages living together.

“Together, we are the most populous black nation in the world; together we are the most endowed country in Africa. There is no doubt about that, but corporately, we have not been able to achieve our potential .

“The Yoruba nation is praying for a leader who will see the need to recognize the diversity of this country and to make sure we have a geopolitical arrangement that will allow each of the regions to exploit maximally its resources, set its priorities according to its history, culture and belief and pull all these resources together for the good of Nigeria.”

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He maintained that although some people appear to be getting fed up with the word ‘restructuring,’ yet restructuring of Nigeria’s political architecture is needed, adding, “We need a leader who is imbued with patriotism, to see that the federating units are empowered to manage their resources, pay some dues to the Federal Government as it was during the first republic.

Until this happens, this country is unlikely to make the deserved progress. You cannot concentrate all the powers in the centre, which is too far away from the people.

Nigerian citizens are in the states and local governments and they are supposed to own the power, because sovereignty belongs to the people.

“So for me, there should be restoration of power back to the people. The power was forcibly taking away at gunpoint by the military in January 15, 1966 and since then the power has been at the centre illegally.”

State chairman of the Green Party of Nigeria (GPN), Afam Ani, said Nigerians should use the 2019 general elections to vote out President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and usher in a new one.

Ani said this has become necessary due to the level of poverty ravaging the country, stressing that the past four years had not been easy.

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“I sincerely pray for change of government at the centre,” he said. “This is not a joke and not borne out of selfish desires. Nigerians are suffering and government seems to lack the capacity to make things work for the people. So let us vote in a new government to see whether there will be improvement in the living standards of Nigerians.”

Besides, he prayed for a peaceful, credible, free and affair elections in 2019, even as he expressed the hope that 2019 should be greater and more productive than the outgone year if government provides the right environment.

Elder statesman, Chief Onwuka Ukwa, prayed for peace in Nigeria, hitch-free 2019 general election and a viable economy that will benefit the people as well as unity among all the ethnic groups in the country.

Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chucks Ibegbu, said Nigerians should elect credible and God-fearing leaders during the 2019 general elections.

However, while emphasising the need for Nigerians, especially politicians to allow the ‘Will of God’ to reign over the affairs of the country, retired Anglican Bishop of Akure Diocese, Bolanle Gbonigi, harped on the need for citizens to place the will of God above their individual aspirations and desires.

The cleric, in a telephone conversation with The Guardian yesterday said, “My message is God-sent for the nation and it is that only if Nigerians as individuals seek the will of God for their lives and collective for the country can we move forward. We must have the will to do what God wants; it is then it would be well with our country. It is then we will be the kind of people and country that the Lord wants us to be. But when we insist on doing ‘our own will’ we will get into trouble.”

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Regarding the coming election, the cleric appealed to Nigerians to fervently pray that its outcome may be according to the “Will of God’ and not according to the desire of individual politicians who are desperate for positions.

But while contending that all was not well with the country, former Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George, said his concern for the country is despondency which he said cuts across the land, from the lowest to the highest.

He warned that unless the coming election is appropriately and honestly managed, it would decide the fate of the country, saying: “I appeal to Nigerians to eschew violence and to our leaders to allow the will of the electorate stand in the coming elections. I want Mr. President to personally respect the will of the people. INEC should live above board by ensuring free, fair and credible elections in the interest of peace.”

He also enjoined Nigerians to stand by their votes just as he urged current leaders never to allow the repeat of what happened in the 1963 general elections that ultimately led to the civil war in 1967. Said he, “The way we are going, anything can happen if we mismanaged the coming election.”

Meanwhile, former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Chief Frank Kokori, said Nigerians expect more for the country and its leaders in the New Year.

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According to him, “We hope that our leaders would develop the country and that they should be more focus, transparent and honest at all levels of governance.”

A former Deputy-Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Aderoju Ojikutu, however said Nigerians should forgive the many sins of omission and commission of the leaders, particularly the ones committed against the masses.

According to her, “The 2019 general election calls for caution and we should eschew violence that could jeopardize the fragile peace in the country. This is the time for sober reflection for all and sundry and all hands should be on deck if we are to attain greatness in the comity of nations.

“The forthcoming election should unite us rather than being seen as a ‘do or die’. All the gladiators should know that we have no other country to run into. There should be ‘no victor nor vanquished’ after the election.”

A former Commissioner for Information in Ondo State, Kayode Akinmade expressed confidence that PDP would reverse and correct most of the untold hardship APC has brought on the nation if it wins the coming election.

He said: “Nigeria today is more divided than it has ever been and even the so-called technical defeat of Boko Haram by the APC government has turned out to be a hoax. Boko Haram has become a roaring monster shedding blood at will and the government has looked helplessly and clueless on. APC claimed that Jonathan was ‘clueless’ because he didn’t defeat Boko Haram, and Buhari promised that as a General within his first three months in office, Boko Haram would be wiped out.

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“Today, four years later, our ill-equipped soldiers are losing their lives on a daily basis while the terrorists get bolder and more daring. PDP is determined to change the face of things and bring happiness to Nigerians.”

Arewa youths, under the auspices of Arewa Youths Development and Progress (AYDP), said Nigeria needs a pragmatic leadership that will propel the economy of the nation into greater height in 2019. it said unless Nigerians are determined to enthrone competent leaders to the position of power in 2019, the future of the nation may be bleak.

President of AYDP, Comrade Danjuma Sarki, added: “We have our expectations for Nigeria in the 2019 and it for us to see the enthronement of a government that will resuscitate our economy in Nigeria in 2019. A government that will bring peace and unity to Nigeria and not one that will divide Nigerians should be enthroned for the good of all our people in the country. And also we desire in 2019 a government that will put an end to the insurgency that has claimed many lives and property in the country.  We need a government that would be compassionate to the people.

“We must be frank with ourselves, with the way things are going and if we should continue like this, there is no way these expectations will be met. What the late Yar’Adua achieved in the three years that he governed this country, this present government has not been able to achieve half of it. And what Jonathan also achieved, Buhari has not achieved half of it despite the corruption fight the government is claiming”.

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Also, head of Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, Rev. Father Evaristus Bassey, said 2018 was a year that the lingering crisis was resolved by the pope and the unity of the church that was threatened and the peace of the church were brought back.

He said: “Remember when we held a prayerful demonstration around the country about the killings that was going on in Nigeria? It is really a sad year, especially the killing of the priest that took place in Markudi.

“The loss of lives is something that is painful. It is very unfortunate that even in countries that civil war is ongoing they don’t have as much loss of lives as we have in Nigeria where there is no civil war. Live almost has no value in our country Nigeria. But still, Nigerians are resilient and in spite of everything we still stood firm, trusting in God and still having the hope that we will live together as one nation.”

He said Nigerians should work hard to usher in a fresh democratic prospect in terms of elections and manifest our maturity as a peaceful people, by voting and carrying out the election without putting the lives of innocent people in danger.


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