Friday, 2nd June 2023

The beauty of the 2023 general elections

By Luke Onyekakeyah
07 February 2023   |   3:40 am
The 2023 general election, which is around the corner, is the easiest for Nigerians to vote and vote rightly. The anger and hardship in the land should be visited at the poll.

(Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

The 2023 general election, which is around the corner, is the easiest for Nigerians to vote and vote rightly. The anger and hardship in the land should be visited at the poll. People should be angry enough to say enough is enough and translate it by voting only those who are capable and prepared to bring relief to the people. This election is a matter of life and death for a country. It is either that Nigeria gets it right or this might be the last chance.

Luckily, choosing the right presidential candidate would not present any difficulty. The choice is very glaring among the contestants. It has never been like this since 1999, when the present democratic dispensation birthed. This is the beauty of the 2023 elections. In the previous elections, there were many capable contestants, which made it difficult for the electorate to select. The situation is different this time around.

The same goes for the parties. Before now, there was room for debate over which party would serve Nigerians. It is no longer the case today. Among the frontline parties – PDP and APC have been tested and found wanting. No other party shares the same failure and disappointment. It is the gross failure of these two parties for the past twenty three years of unbroken democratic experiment that has ruined Nigeria and turned the country to stupor.

Consequently, now that the experiment has failed, it is time to seek alternative platform that would re-direct Nigeria and give it a new lease of life? It is this clear and self-evident situation that has made it easy for Nigerians to make a change with a new political platform. There’s need for a new blood to be injected into the polity to save Nigeria from total disintegration. The fact that Nigeria is facing real existential threat is palpable. If the 2023 election fails to get it right, there may be no other chance. It is only a blind man who has not seen what is happening. And of course a deaf who has not heard what is happening. Nigeria is sitting on dangerous edge.

Right now, there is hardly any Nigerian who does not know the right candidate to vote for. The choice is clear. There is no Nigerian who is not feeling the heat of misrule. Progressive countries are not governed by corrupt selfish people. Progressive countries are not governed by ethnic bigots or religious fanatics. Progressive countries are governed by competent and visionary leaders who are on a mission to transform the country.

Gradually, the country has turned into hell on earth. Life means nothing in this jungle of a place. Nowhere is safe. Boko Haram, poverty, hunger, disease and hardship ravage the population. The masses lack cash to meet daily needs. Thousands of displaced folks are dumped in refugee camps called Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Those not in IDPs are in their homes hungry, famished and traumatized. It is no exaggeration that millions of folks can’t afford one miserable meal a day. Nigerians are facing a war situation in apparent peace time. The high cost of living has been compounded by the high cost of petrol. Since late November 2022 till date, the pump price of petrol rose astronomically from N169 to N500 in parts of the country. That shot the price of everything three times beyond the reach of ordinary people. The anguish among the citizenry is palpable. There cannot be enough lamentation over the awful condition of living in Nigeria. Suffice it to say that life is tough. Many people have reached their breaking point.

The story of Singapore stands out as a world class reference point of how a poor wretched country was transformed from Third World to First World. The legendary Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and arrowhead of the transformation was a patriot whom fate threw up at the critical moment to lead the change. It didn’t matter which ancestry he belonged to – Indian, Chinese, Singaporean or any other. He rose to the challenge and the people supported him and the rest is history.

We are in the same historic turning point. A country that should be in the rank of the first world is dragging behind and branded the poverty capital of the world despite the huge wealth of natural and human resources endowment. We have been made a laughing stock of the world by poor leadership. There is no pride in being a Nigerian. Smaller poor African countries deride us. Given the opportunity, every single Nigerian would opt to leave the country for greener pasture.

Why is it so? Why does it seem like we are condemned to remain behind? Why should a rich country that should be a donor nation be languishing in debt as a borrower? For how long would this anomie; this aberration continue? Is it not time to end the impasse? Are we at our dead end?

Being at the turn of the 21st Century, is it not time to liberate Nigeria from the shackles of underdevelopment, shackles of ethnicity, shackles of religion and join the league of the progressive world? All that is needed to effect a dramatic change is available. All the known major mineral resources on earth are here. If properly harnessed and utilised, Nigeria will leap frog into the rank of the most developed world. The only thing that is needed is the human element, a visible committed hand to translate the huge potential into actuality.

At this juncture, Nigerians should be tired and fed up with mundane electoral promises that have been the singsong since independence. Promises of roads, bridges, water, etc, ought to be taken for granted by now. Nigeria ought to have advanced beyond that level. The leadership has been honest. Selfish politicians have robbed and short-changed the people with great deception. The result is gross underdevelopment quagmire.

There is a way out. The choice is right at hand. The election starting in about three weeks presents a great opportunity to change the ugly situation. Every single individual is a stakeholder – market women, youths, students, traders, landlords, tenants, hawkers, the unemployed, pensioners, teachers, and many more. Nigerians to rise like one man and take back their country. The choice is clear and obvious among the contestants. Those who leaned on ethnic and religious considerations to vote the bad leaders ravaging all of us today and not exempted from the suffering and pain. Nigerians should make the right choice in our overall collective interest.