January 29, 2019

2019 election: A no contest?

Akwa Ibom

By Sunny Ikhioya

FOR those involved in human capital development, especially in the area of  training and appraisals, there is the concept of  Programmed To Fail, PTF, that is, giving someone a job or position without adequate preparation. It is very common in our public and private lives and when the person fails, the blame game begins.

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As a nation, we  been programmed for failure from the beginning.  Unfortunately, the leadership that took over from our colonial masters have helped to build on this failure. The Cable news of  January 15, 2019, quoted the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Abubakar Bwari as follows: “Ajaokuta is 98% completed.

Everything is in place and we have our workers there that are maintaining the place..” The Cable news went further: “Abubakar Bwari, the Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development says the infrastructure required such as the dredging of Lokoja and Warri ports are yet to be completed…Even if it was completed 100%, it would not be able to operate.

If we are to bring in all the raw materials required from Itakpe road daily. The road will be bad in one week.” And you begin to wonder, who conceived, designed, approved and executed such a project?

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So the Ajaokuta steel factory is ready but no infrastructure in place to get it  to work, when a secondary school economics student, already knows that all factors of production must be in place before factories can be sited. Now the project is stranded.

Same goes for other projects across the  country.  You now know why other petrol dollar countries like Qatar, UAE, etc are making progress with their economy and that of Nigeria is in  relapse. Projects are sited purely on sentiments, politics, religion, tribe, etc – and no recourse to economic values.

The leadership of nepotism, cronyism, religion and tribalism is the bane of this country. It is doing more damage to the nation than the so much trumpeted corruption. Corruption  exist in every part of the world but there are institutions and structures that have been put in place to check it. That is what progressive countries are doing and this is what we need to do.

That is  strengthen these  institutions – which are already in place in the country – allow them to operate freely according to the law, without undue interference and the matter of corruption will be settled. What we are doing presently is pretending to fight corruption, scratching at the surface. There is no way we can successfully tackle corruption in the country when  the fight  is perceived as  blatantly one sided. That is why we are worried at the trend, the preparation, campaigns and the general direction the 2019 election is taking.

In a democracy, not one party or person or group  has  monopoly of wisdom or knowledge, on how things should be done. All interests must be factored in and generally seen to be so. If it is otherwise, the credibility of the process will be tainted. Apart from the ruling APC party and its followers, the general perception is that the 2019 general election will not be free and fair and this position is not without good reasons.

For an election to be credible, it must be seen by all parties to be free and fair. Where ex-presidents and elder statesmen express fears about the way things are going, we must pause and consider their fears, instead of waving them off in the guise of partisanship.

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The system must be allowed to operate freely without unnecessary interference. It is Buhari today, it will be someone else tomorrow, that is why we must be very careful of the precedent been set.  In the appointment of officials into public  office, in the allocation of resources and the inter relationship with each other. It is not all that is lawful that is morally right, therefore, those in  positions of authority must be mindful of the decisions they take. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  must start listening to the complaints of people and address them accordingly, beginning with the redeployment of Mrs. Amina Zakari from the collation Centre. If the Commission choose to go ahead and retain her, it will  give credence to the complaint that the election  will not be free and fair, that it is programmed to favour the ruling party and will therefore be a no contest.

It is a good thing that the Police Force leadership has changed baton. We were beginning to think that the Force has become an extension of the ruling APC party, with the manner it handled the politics of Kogi and Akwa Ibom states. You do not say an election is free and fair when you do not accord all parties the same treatment.

By allowing some to be dragged around and detained like Senator Dino Melaye, while allowing others to move about freely like Babachir Lawal and ex -governor Akpabio,  a level playing ground is not created. The main opposition party has been so hounded to the extent that key members are moving over to the ruling party, so that they can have peace.

If the People’s Democratic Party, PDP,, has destroyed the economy of this country in sixteen years, as claimed by the APC, how do you explain the fact that, apart from one or two, all past chairmen of the PDP have found their way to the APC. These have become saints and those who have refused  to cross over are tagged criminals. What an irony!

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I was surprised to see Senator Obanikoro give evidence against ex governor Ayo Fayose in court; that is how it works in present day Nigeria. The way the Chief Justice Onnoghen matter came up, makes it difficult for people to deal with the issue dispassionately. First and foremost, this  is a man who went through all the required security screenings before he was confirmed for the job of Chief Justice of the federation.

How did these sleazy details escape the scrutiny of the agencies responsible for his screening? Furthermore, why was the present action timed to take place during this period, barely a month before the election? Thirdly, why was protocol broken in the way and manner issues pertaining to the Chief Justice was handled?

No matter how one looks at it, when one has been elevated to the position of a Judge over his fellows, he is no longer an ordinary fellow, therefore, the process of disciplining him must not be in the manner of commoners. Like the President, it must follow due process and not be done at the whims of certain individuals because of their access to power.

The manner the action against Chief Justice Onnoghen was carried out leaves much to be desired and a big embarrassment to our democracy. If this trend of unpopular appointments and harassment of perceived opposition continues, there is fear that the election will be a no contest. As we count days for the election to hold, the waiting game is on.