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Nigeria and the 2011 general elections

BY PETER OJO

FOR some obvious reasons, I decided not to write for sometime now. The main reason is the fact that there have been no positive changes in the country. In one of my previous write-ups, I wondered why  Nigeria , regarded as the sixth largest oil producing country in the world, cannot  make  kerosene available to its citizens, especially the common man.

Today, the product which is used by many families in cooking, is sold for between  N150 to N160 per litre at the black market. Similarly, a five litre can of kerosene is sold for between N950.00 to N1,000 at the  black  market. Although the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has ruled this country for the past 12 years, indications are that they have found  no solution to the scarcity of the product.

I also wrote about the nation’s decaying infrastructure due mainly to the epileptic power supply which has forced many companies to fold up. With billions of naira spent on the energy sector, Nigerians are still living in darkness. I wonder why Nigerians cannot enjoy at least 20 hours of power supply  everyday and constant power supply at weekends and public holidays given the billions of naira spent on this sector?

The question still begging for answer is: Who is sabotaging the economy? Who are the major importers of generators into this country? The culprits should be thoroughly investigated and  justice  should be done on the issue. Those who are behind these criminal acts against the country should be prosecuted and if found guilty, severely punished.

If smaller countries like Ghana, Cameroun, Togo and Benin Republic which are not up to a quarter of Nigeria’s population, are enjoying stable power supply with their little resources,  it is a  shame that Nigeria, the most populous black country  in the world, cannot enjoy six hours of power supply.

Other badly neglected sectors include education, health, agriculture and housing. All these sectors have gone from bad to worse with billions of naira spent on them.

The security situation in the country is also worrisome. Last year, the country witnessed a lot of violent uprisings that claimed many lives and property. The killing of innocent people, especially women and children early last year in Jos, the bomb blasts that killed over 10 people during the October 1 Independence Day celebrations, the series of bomb blasts in Jos and Abuja that killed so many people, left Nigerians mourning.

The high rate of  kidnapping constitute a grave danger in the country. The Federal Government has failed the nation in this regard and even the rate of raping of  children whose ages range from five to 10 is also another problem that the country is facing.

Towards the end of last year,  Nigerians  were outraged when the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi made a revelation that our National Assembly accounts 25 per cent of the country’s annual overhead cost.

According to the revelation, a senator goes home with over N15 million per month with quarterly allowance of over N40 million. A House of Representatives member goes home every month with over N10 million and a  quarterly allowance of N27 million, yet the Federal Government has not commenced paying N18,000 minimum wage for federal workers.

The 2011 general election is around the corner. The political parties have held their primaries to select  their candidates for the various electoral positions in the  elections slated for April. To have a smooth, free and fair elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC came up with the use of Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines to register voters for the elections.

However, the voters’ registration exercise was almost marred by hitches. INEC faced   challenges ranging from slow and non-capturing of finger prints of would-be voters,  half-charged batteries for the machine and some of the corpers employed to do the registration not properly trained to use the machine. The registration exercise will be the testimony of how we will have a smooth,  free and fair general election come April.  The last election was in 2007 and this year’s general election is coming four years after, yet planning has remained shoddy. The question is, why do we always find it so difficult to put our house in order and conduct credible general elections in this country?

After the April polls, the Fourth Republic would have produced four general elections – 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. Nigerians are tired of visionless leaders who cannot offer them anything.

Peter Dele Ojo, is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers


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