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Nigerians prepare for peace

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People gather near information posters to find their polling stations at the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at the Aba South Local Government building in Aba on February 15, 2019, ahead of Nigeria’s presidential and legislative elections on February 16. Nigerians are scheduled to cast their ballots on February 16, in presidential and legislative elections.<br />CRISTINA ALDEHUELA / AFP

Si vis pacem, para bellum (Latin means, if you want peace, prepare for war)

One plausible approach to this discourse is to employ the imagery of the group of blindmen who inspected and described an elephant. Depending on the source and version one has, the number of the blindmen provides enough data to create an intense intellectual war. For example, the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain texts advocate that it was an unidentified number of blindmen. John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) in his famous poem entitled, The Blind men and the Elephant, gave the number as six (6).

The main lesson is that human beings rely largely on perception to make judgements. Perception is more significant than experience and education, than intelligence and independence. Perception is like inspiration, or imagination. It possesses limitless potency to make or mar an individual, family, organisation or society. In all of human history, no mortal has ever succeeded beyond the realm of their perception or vision. We are all products of our perception.

In physics the term mirage is the appropriate term, which is used to differentiate false from real vision. For instance, this is the reason why two individuals who are standing on two different locations (such as on the ground and high rise building) but looking at the same object, will likely give divergent reports. Meanwhile to both, they are seeing, feeling, encountering and reporting the truth.

Sequel to these earlier illustrations, Nigeria’s 2019 general election is the central object that attracts attention from people of all climes and cultures, tribes and tongues, nationalities and nativities. Consequently, it is comparable to the parable of a group of blind men who encountered an Elephant. As well, it is comparable to two individuals standing on two different platforms and looking at the same object. The experience can be interesting or intriguing, successful or stressful, inspiring or intimidating.

Both Nigerians and foreigners are already feeling the heat of the electioneering campaigns and calculations, the alignments and re-alignments, the anger and angst, the permutations and politicking.

Let us briefly consider the two typical scenarios that would likely play out during this year’s general elections in our country.

First, the gloomy side. Maybe the elections would not hold at all due to complications and complexities. Or that we would record the worst type of rigging and malpractices in the history of our nation. Or that the wastage of human lives and other resources would be unprecedented. There could be worse scenarios.

The second scenario is that the elections go on lawfully, peacefully and successfully. We as a people find solution to every challenge that would arise before, during and after the elections. Both the electioneering process and results would be so excellent that Nigerians and the international community would congratulate the government, INEC and the Nigerian populace.

As true citizens of this great nation, we have a rare opportunity to decide and determine our choice between the two sides of the coin. The stage is set. It all depends on our perceptions. How do we view the 2019 general elections? Is it a competition or a battle? Is winning election an opportunity for service or enslaving the people? Is it an opportunity to pursue the Nigerian dream of unity in diversity or for ethnic cleansing?

Generally, most Nigerians would choose to have a peaceful and successful election. However to achieve this noble and excellent goal, there are basic conditionalities to be fulfilled. There is always a price for any prize.

Nigerians aged eighteen and above should assume their civic duty of participating in the voting process. This is the first step to making sure that the votes count. Let us overcome every obstacle and go out to vote our chosen candidates and parties.

The governments in power at the national and state must exhibit (and be judged to do so) the virtues of fairness, justice and equity. For instance, such issues like upholding the principle of federal character and sharing of positions between party members of the two main religions in states that have significant populations of Christianity and Islam should be upheld.

Equally, the government should provide the INEC with all the necessary resources needed for the execution of a successful election; while the political parties should ensure that their leadership and membership are people of integrity who place the welfare of Nigerians on high premium.

In the second place, INEC should (and truly) be seen as an unbiased umpire before, during and after the elections. Security officials at every level and period of the election should carry out their assignments without fear or favour towards any individual or group.

Moreover, the media and judiciary should be ready to play their legitimate roles before, during and after the elections. They should desist from engaging in all the vices (such as succumbing to bribery, tribalism, nepotism or corruption) which mar free and fair election.

Furthermore, everybody (governments in power, INEC, political parties and citizens) should imbibe the noble principle of upholding the sacredness of human life. We must all detaste the wastage of human lives and in spite of extreme provocations, seek to protect the lives and property of our fellow Nigerians.

Finally, we all must imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship and decide to accept the results of the elections before they are declared. We must be ready to see beyond the present circumstances and situations and therefore envision a future Nigeria where no man is oppressed. We must be ready to engage the noble habit of delayed gratification because the future will always be better. We should envision a Nigeria that is bigger and better than any Nigerian or group and their selfish ambition(s). These principles constitute the price we need to pay to achieve a successful election. This is what it takes to prepare for peace.

Perhaps, we think that it is utopic to achieve a free and fair election in this 2019 election, we can settle for a third position which is a middle one. Yet this is what mediocrity in all about. It is unsatisfying and unattractive and as hazardous and harmful as failure. Such mediocre performances represent significant seasons of life when half bread is worse than none.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of America was credited to have made this significant statement about preparation as a major secret of success. Lincoln said, ‘if I had eight hours to chop a tree, I would spend 6hours sharpening my axe.’ The level of success of this 2019 general elections in Nigeria would depend on the level of preparations the governments in power (national and state), INEC law enforcement agents, the media, judiciary and the citizens of Nigeria are prepared to make it a success. The responses of the international community also would greatly be influenced by what is happening within our country,

Fellow citizens, let us prepare for peace and shun anarchy and wickedness. Let us disappoint those who wish our nation evil and destruction. Let us rise above the primordial and bestial instincts of human vices and viciousness. Let all the parties involved in this year’s election play their noble roles. Let us all answer the call to be the leading nation of the black race. Let us restore the position of our Nation in the black race. Let us restore the position of our Nation as a leader in the comity of nations. May Nigeria enjoy peace and prosperity in our day.

Dr. Amaraegbu is a psychologist and public affairs analyst


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