Politicians see 2023 elections as do-or-die affair – Jega
A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, has urged Nigerians to be vigilant ahead of the 2023 elections, warning that politicians are likely to deploy all means necessary to emerge victorious.
He said Nigerian politicians since 1999 see the electoral contest as a do-or-die affair, noting that the 2023 elections won’t be different.
He stated this on Tuesday in Abuja while delivering a keynote at the public sensitization on peaceful co-existence and the need to have hitch-free 2023 elections, organized by the Abuja National Mosque Da’awah and Welfare Foundation (ANMDWF), with the theme ‘Towards a free, fair, and credible 2023 general elections’.
According to Jega, it is generally acknowledged both at home and abroad that this year’s general elections are the most consequential elections to be held globally.
“To my mind, the most worrisome challenges going into the 2023 general elections are the attitude and disposition of the so-called political class (politicians and political party bureaucracy or aristocracy); and the attitude and disposition of the electorate, the eligible voting citizens, as they engage with the electoral process.
“The so-called political class, as active partisans and as candidates/contestants in elections, are the category of stakeholders with perhaps the least noticeable improvements in the ways in which they engage with the electoral process since 1999.
“Their mindset is to achieve victory at all cost; to win elections deploying ‘all means necessary’; seeing electoral contests as a “do-or-die” affair. As they have done since 1999, they have continued to do, and are likely to do in 2023.
“As their impunity has remained unchecked, so have their criminal and fraudulent predispositions increased. This may constitute the major challenge to the 2023 general elections,” he said.
The professor of political science added that the attitude and disposition of the electorate, including citizens who qualify to register and to vote, is also a major concern.
“Increasingly, even if they register to vote, they hardly make the effort to vote, as declining voter turnout statistics of general as well as off-season elections indicate. This may be because of what is called a crisis of rising expectations; and/or inadequacy, or lack of sensitization, political and voter education.
“As the intrinsic value of electoral democracy is hinged on citizens’ participation in election to, in an enlightened manner, elect their trusted representatives in the legislative and governance institutions, the evidence of declining participation of eligible citizens, or of their unenlightened participation is undesirable and needs to be addressed.
“Therefore, sensitization, public enlightenment and voter education are absolutely necessary, not just close to elections, but throughout the 4-year electoral cycle. This is even more significant in a country such as Nigeria, with significant numbers of illiterate populations. For, in our own kind of situation, it is not enough for people to register to vote, and go to polling units on election day to vote: they must know how to vote and not waste their votes,” Jega said.
He also listed various measures put in place by INEC to prevent rigging and ensure the success of the elections.
On his part, the Chairman ANMDWF, Dr Muhammad Kabir Adam, said it is the responsibility of all Nigerians to ensure the coming general elections.
“If the elections are credible, the outcome would be successful and the leaders that would emerge would be answerable to them and deliver good governance,” Imam Adam said.