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Elections postponment and our democracy

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari

It is no longer news that the Presidential/National Assembly and the Governorship/State Houses of Assembly elections which were hitherto scheduled for 16th, February and 2nd, March have been postponed to 23rd, February and 9th, March respectively.

The postponement, according to INEC, was due to logistics and operational problems.

The Commission took full responsibility for its actions and advised that same was taken in the interest of the nation.

However, the shift has set tongues wagging within and outside the country with people divided along condemnation and commendation lines.

Many people have even gone to the extent of accusing the Chairman of the Commission of sabotage and called for his resignation amongst other sanctions.

Expectedly, the political parties are not left out in the imbroglio as there have been accusations and counter accusations of conspiracies from different directions.

Though, representatives of some of the parties also commended the commission for saving our democracy from `imminent ridicule`; the basic truth of the matter remains that the `elections have been postponed`.

Now that the new date of 23rd instant is fast approaching, the most reasonable things to do at this juncture is to closely study the circumstances surrounding the postponement and working on same towards ensuring that we achieve the best results that will project the country and its citizenry in good light.

I have in the last few days written and circulated two very important articles titled “ELECTIONS 2019 AND THE PEOPLE`S CONSCIOUSNESS” and “NIGERIA DECIDES: WE MUST GET IT RIGHT” to sensitize the electorates on those things that are expected of them before, during and after the elections.

I have also challenged other institutions (including INEC, the Security Agencies, the Government, the Political Parties, Journalists/Media Practitioners, and the International Observers/Monitoring Groups) that will be directly or indirectly involved in the process to ensure that they discharged their responsibilities/functions professionally and to the best of their abilities towards achieving the much desired free, fair and credible outcomes.

Now that the elections have been shifted and the ban on electioneering lifted; it will not be out of place to use this medium to still do enlightenment campaign to support all that have earlier been proffered.

As, a result, it is very important to advise leaders of all parties to put machineries in place to checkmate areas of concerns that have emanated from different quarters as factors that were responsible for the postponement.

Though, the Chairman of INEC has assured that the work tools and processes are secured and have not been, and will not be compromised; there is need to give the Commission the benefits of the doubt albeit with extremely close and legitimate monitoring.

The government and party leaders should ensure that they abstain from taking any illegal action(s) against the Chairman and or any member of the Commission as fallout of this postponement.

If there are sufficient evidences of sabotage or conspiracy, the provisions of the extant laws should be strictly adhered. Y

ou are strongly advised to be cautious of your utterances and ensure to refrain from making statements that could be misconstrued and misinterpreted to causing crises in the polity.

The problems caused by the `CAMPAIGNS OF DAMAGING PROPAGANDA`which have tended to divide the people along sentimentally parochial and myopic lines are still lingering and same will cost us valuable efforts and time to defuse in the nearest future.

Deliberate efforts should be made to put the interest of the country above partisan and personal considerations.

If election is the process of choosing representatives by popular votes to form a government; then, the exercise will not be reasonably justified if the country is thereafter thrown into a governmentless society.

In view of this fact, you will agree with me that we cannot afford to toy with this golden opportunity to ensure that we get it right.

At this stage, there is need for all hands to be on deck towards ensuring that the new dates are sacrosanct and positively utilized.

What should be uppermost in our minds is the need to sustain our democracy.

We should not allow our selfish and inordinate ambition to derail our resolve to upholding the national and collective interest of our country and the citizenry.

It is not cast in stone that a particular party or candidate must win the election; that decision should be left for the electorates to make at the polls.

This is the time to prove to our leaders that they should always be guided by the fact that in any democracy, it is the votes of the electorates that will decide the people and party(ies) that will form the government.

Power of incumbency and the aggressiveness of opposition parties are inconsequential to the determination and resoluteness of the electorates.

It is the state of the nation and its effects on the lives of the people that will determine the voting trends. We may not have been getting it right in the past; but, henceforth, it is the will of the people that must prevail.

INEC has assured us of playing its role as an uncompromised, unbiased and committed umpire (we are watching closely with keen interest); I will also implore the security operatives to be professional in carrying out their duties. They should be apolitical and strive to put in their best towards ensuring that the lives and properties of the citizenry and the International Observers/Monitoring groups are protected in the discharge of their responsibilities.

It is obvious that with a truly independent umpire and professional security operatives in place; we are almost certain of a very successful outing because the destinies of the electorates will then be left in their own hands.

In view of the aforementioned, this should serve as a “CLARION CALL” to the electorates and the people that the ball is now in their court to do the needful. If we want good governance in our country; we must learn to come together during elections to take crucial decisions.

It is only when our leaders realize that the electorates are `very conscious of their rights and responsibilities` that they will equally be mindful of their actions and inactions towards ensuring that the wellbeing of the citizenry are uppermost in their agenda. If we do not get it right on Saturday; it may hurt us for decades because the politicians will continue to take us for granted by concluding that we are still not `ripe to practice true democracy`.

Therefore, this is the time to emancipate yourselves from mental and political slavery by proving to our leaders that “you are capable and ready to practice true and sound democracy”.

Apropos to the aforementioned, you are therefore advise to eschew violence and all other electoral malpractices as we come together to take our destinies in our hands.

May the Almighty God help us.

Oise-Oghaede, is Public Policy Analyst, wrote from Suru-Lere, Lagos.


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