By Adisa Adeleye
The last postponement by INEC Chairman of elections scheduled for 14th and 28th February 2015 is not the first one under the present Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headed by Professor Jega. The first one under his watch happened in 2011. The postponement announced on 7th February seems to be divinely inspired and should be appreciated by all Nigerians who might have been saved the embarrassment of the century.
It may be inappropriate at this moment to apportion blames, but it would be irresponsible to expect miracle from a scheme ill prepared and morally reprehensible. INEC has offered itself as the sacrificial lamb by its actions.
How could it have been possible to conduct a free, fair and proper election when the Permanent Voters‘ Card (PVC) that INEC invented as the only means of voting, would not reach all the eligible voters before the Election Day? At the time of announcement of the postponement, about 23 million PVSs were yet to be collected by registered voters. Only Prof. Jega could explain the basis of his arrogant stance that INEC is ready to conduct a free and fair election. Many Nigerians are sure that INEC has, by the latest act of postponement, saved itself and the country from falling into the pit of shame it has dug ignorantly but vainly for Nigerians.
The saving grace was the force of security challenge (which has always been there, but cleverly avoided or stubbornly neglected. It has become a happy conclusion that perfect reason prevailed inspite of the recognized usual tardiness of INEC planners and the immoralities and insensitivity of the political class that has been rushing INEC and its Chairman, Prof. Jega towards the pit of desperation.
If I endorse fully the postponement of the February 14th and 28th elections, it is certainly not for the reasons adduced by INEC and members of the ruling party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and their numerous supporters. I don’t think that the Opposition, All Progressives Congress Party (APC) deserves any sympathy for willingly submitting to any political contest in a highly unstable political and economic environment. Perhaps those poor Nigerians who charge politicians of being selfish and unpatriotic have their points.
How would a serious country that is engaged in a bloody civil warfare against murderous and unyielding insurgents, whose, national currency is undermined by economic saboteurs everyday and the lives of its innocent citizens subjected to incessant attacks by armed robbers and bandits, be involved in the wasteful merriments that go for political rallies? It looks as immoral that when other countries are putting their forces on our soil to overcome the enemy which appears invincible, the political leaders are seen in their multi-coloured dresses politicking all over the country. Why should the gladiators not cease fire and concentrate on hammering the Boko Haram insurgents and work conscientiously towards saving the Naira, seems a pertinent question. However, it looks as if the country and its political leadership are struck by some demonic strange disease that prevents the apprehension of the importance of the serious danger knocking at the gate.
It should be recalled that when Britain, our past colonial masters had similar political and economic problems in the 1930s, it resorted to a Unity Government to save the Pound. The Nigerian economic, political and security crisis appear too complicated to be left entirely to the present Government to tackle alone.
If the elections have been postponed for six weeks because of security dangers and tardiness of INEC, what are the assurances of March and April dates?
Some Nigerians may appear as incurable optimists but certainly, many are not blind to the existing glaring facts. Many party supporters might have been convinced through propaganda that President Jonathan is the best PDP President so far. Many supporters of Buhari do certainly believe that he possess the magical wand to fix all Nigeria‘s problems.
However, former elected Presidents like Shagari and Obasanjo and Heads of State like Gowon, Buhari, Babangida and Abubakar would attest to the complexity of Nigerian problems and the obstacles to national unity, political and economic stability. President Jonathan is a living example of how best your effort is, it may still not be good enough in certain circle. Therefore, it would not require one form of stargazing to conclude that no single party would be able to master the intricacies that surround governance of the country and the complexity of the Nigerian political system.
The glaring problem is that politicians come and go, but like the French Borbons, they learnt nothing and forgot nothing. They are schooled in the philosophy of “winners take all” and they believe fervently in the culture of “what we have, we hold”, at all cost. These nebulous concepts, are however alien to a plural society like Nigeria.
This nation has never been so divided into tribal religious and ethnic classes in its politics and between the very rich and the most desperate poor in its economic setting. The necessary middle class did not thrive during the boom period of oil wealth leaving room for its decline during the coming period of austerity after the elections. The Nigerians, under the devaluation of the naira, would continue to do with only imported second-hand commodities. The policy of devaluation works in a flourishing manufacturing environment where cheaper domestic prices would stimulate external demand.
Viewing the present position from the background of the past heightened political tempo, the contending political parties have shown remarkable maturity. This is a good sign for the future if relative peace is maintained during and after the elections in March and April.
I believe that in order to save the country from further economic, political and social decadence, widespread rural poverty and urban congestion, with its attendant filth and disease, it is necessary to seek a new solution in the idea of a genuine NATIONAL GOVERNMENT of wider and tested talents.
Surely, the prayer of the country is that the Boko Haram insurgency should be over before the next government is sworn in: And the good people of Nigeria shall say, Amen.