Edo 2020 and the emerging new Nigeria
It is no longer news that the Edo State governorship election has come and gone; and that the incumbent Governor, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki and his Deputy, Philip Shaibu have been re-elected for another term of four years. The exercise which came up on September 19, 2020, has drawn widespread accolades for its freeness, fairness and credibleness. Therefore, it would not be an overstatement to say that it is an in-road to the new Nigeria that we crave. In my article titled “Edo governorship election and the future of our democracy,” which was published before the election, I posited that “there would not have been any need for that write-up if our politicians have considerably imbibed the principle of “one man, one vote” but it became necessary because successive elections after the feat of June 12, 1993 have been marred by plethora of irregularities. As a result, I called on the good people of Edo to be wary of the ploys of unscrupulous politicians who would do everything possible to carry out their nefarious activities “as usual” to undermine the will of the people and success of the election.
I went further to say that these elements have already caused disaffections amongst the people for their own selfish interest but that the electorates should rather see the election as a family affair that should be best treated as such. In addition, I advised that the people should take a look at the governor`s performance over the years and form a “scorecard” of those things that he achieved and those he was unable to accomplished to determine if he has done considerably well to deserve a re-election or not.
Thus, it would be easier for them to make a choice between voting for either “continuity” or “change.” In the same vein, all stakeholders were adjured to ensure that the exercise was conducted fairly and peaceably so that the end result will be true reflection of the people`s will. Most importantly, the people were encouraged to brace up and take their destiny in their own hands by protecting their votes and making deliberate efforts to emancipate themselves from the bondage of slave-masters and enemies of our democracy who believed that they could continually manipulate and determine the outcome of all elections in the country.
Today, I am glad and proud of the good people of Edo and others that contributed immensely towards ensuring the success of the exercise. The outcome of the election has been generally adjudged to be the best in a long while (though, some people still have reservations “as usual”); therefore, it is instructive to highlight and appreciate some of the contributory factors; such as, the laudable discountenancing of federal-might to manipulate the election; the neutral stance of INEC in the handling of the process; the professional conducts of the various security agencies in discharging their duties; the obvious reality of being closely watched and sanctioned by the international community; the full coverage of members of the press and independent observers; the fatherly roles played by the traditional/community leaders in the state; the supports of all well meaning Nigerians; and the electorates` show of resilience, decorum and high sense of responsibility before, during and after the exercise.
Though, the enemies of our democracy raised their ugly heads in some parts of the state through their violent and irresponsible conducts; the resoluteness of the people to ensure that their votes must count prevailed. In some areas where malfunctioning card readers made the process very slow and frustrating, the people (including the governor) remained calm; took their turns on the queue; and endured the setbacks with equanimity.
This newly found democratic consciousness showcased and proved beyond reasonable doubt that elections could be conducted orderly in the country.
By this great achievement, the people of Edo State have set a standard that is worthy of emulation in the sustenance of our democracy and it is incumbent on all and sundry to use it as a yardstick for shaping the Emerging New Nigeria. Though, some people have lost faith in our political system which is one of the reasons for agitating for self determination (without prejudice to their political view); some of us believe that we can still achieve the lofty aims and objectives of our founding fathers by our resilience and resoluteness to making things work for the betterment of all. Edo 2020 has paved the way and made it very obvious that there is light at the end of the tunnel if we join hands together and take back our country from the enemies of our democracy.
Therefore, it is very important at this juncture to state emphatically that this review should not be seen as celebrating the success of the election because a particular party won against the other or because a particular candidate or others lost to the governor; rather, it is celebration of the people`s victory. Determinedly, they wanted their votes to count and they deservedly achieved it in a free, fair and credible manner (without prejudice to any action that has been or may be instituted at the Election Petitions Tribunal or court). This is the way to go in our quest for a government of all-inclusiveness where everyone will have sense of belonging in all ramifications. Be that as it may, we should be prepared and willing to always acknowledge and celebrate with same enthusiasm whenever such feat is achieved in other election(s) regardless of the side of the divide the victory swings. We must ensure that the sustenance of our national interest is sacrosanct over ethnic, religion and political affiliations.
From the foregoing, we can conveniently deduce that if all elections are free, fair and credible, there would not be any reason for discontentment amongst our people from the east, west, north, south et al because mutual suspicion/mistrust would have been considerably minimised if not totally eradicated from our politics. Thus, we must change our attitudes from the parochial/sentimental perspective to that where all elected representatives of the people will always put the interest of our country topmost in all issues. No matter how myopic it sounds, the truth remains that it is the fall-out of the old order where the enemies of our democracy used their influence and wherewithal to determining outcomes of elections by frustrating the wishes of the people; that has made most electorates lose faith in our voting system. So, rather than exercising their right to vote during elections; they will stay away because of their belief that the results had been predetermined.
Consequent upon the aforementioned, you will agree with me that all hands must be on deck towards ensuring that we replicate the “game changing achievement” of the people of Edo State in all our elections going forward to the “Nigeria of our dream.”
Therefore, it is very necessary to mention at this point, that, the new order is not about any particular party(ies), person or group of persons; religion; or ethnic nationality; but, about “us” (patriotic citizens) taking back our country from those who have been toying and playing politics with our lives and commonwealth over the years. We must ensure that our voices are heard and our votes count in determining who should rule us and be our representatives at all levels of governance. We must join hands together to put a permanent stop to the era where one man or few persons would sit in the comfort of their living rooms to decide the fate of millions of our people by their “directive(s)” of who takes what, when and how.
Welcome to the “Emerging New Nigeria.”
Oise-Oghaede wrote from Lagos State.
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