By Adekunle Adekoya
I love my country Nigeria, and I have no doubt, despite prevailing circumstances, that I remain in very good company. Certainly, these times too shall pass. We have developed the unusual and uncanny capacity to entertain ourselves with very serious issues.
From what has happened and is happening to our values system, developments in the political realm will continue to affect the way we live. This is simply because politics drives the economy. If we have good politicians and good politicking, it is inescapable that in the fullness of time, we’d have a good economy.
While we were all aghast at developments in the National Assembly regarding the Electoral Act amendments, especially the clause dealing with electronic transmission of results, happenings at the burial of a family matriarch in Anambra State literally overwhelmed the social media, in the manner floods took over Lagos last Friday. Events at that burial threw up a lot of questions about our values as a nation of diverse peoples.
The garish display of wads of currency notes during the social event is heart-wrenching when compared with the hordes of villagers that nearly killed themselves as they struggled over left-overs of cows and rams meant for barbecue. The videos are all over the social media, and I’m sure our leaders must have seen them.
Is anybody in the corridors of power moved by the two opposites? What can be done about narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor? Will moving people out of poverty remain ordinary rhetoric? What concrete actions are in place to check the erosive power of poverty? Do we even know that with rising prices of food items, the ability of the rich to remain above the poverty level is being progressively threatened?
Regarding the Electoral Act amendments, internet trolls are in overdrive, jesting our distinguished senators over the undistinguished manner they are taking the country back to the stone age. In the informatics age, the age of computers, hardware and software, Nigeria and Nigerians have achieved a quantum leap through the enabler called information and communication technology, ICT.
In the 20 years that the first GSM licences were issued since 2001, connected telephone lines rose from a paltry 400,000 lines to today’s 187 million active lines. With this development came mobile internet, and Nigerians thronged the information super highway. When Charles Soludo’s CBN threw in the Financial Sector Strategy, tagged FSS 2020 after banking consolidation, ATMs, and instant electronic money transfers became commonplace. Now with PoS banking, people conduct financial transactions comfortably without stress. The era of “my tally number” vanished.
Now, JAMB results, WASCE results, ICAN results, NIN registration, international and domestic money transfers, job applications are electronic. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world, including Nigerians, further advanced electronically. Now, meetings, weddings, funerals and other events are conducted by Zoom or Google Meet. Universities, and other institutions of higher learning also keyed in and virtual classes became common, further validating the usefulness of the open university system.
Then, with progress in these areas so far made, some dinosaurs say election results should come to Abuja by road, by mischievously wording the amendment clauses and bringing in the telecoms regulator into an issue where its relevance is merely consultative. Why bother at all? Why is the ruling party bothering us?
But the pattern had been made clear severally, though not in any order. On March 23, 2021, APC’s interim national chairman, Mai Mala Buni, said its plan is to remain in power for 10 consecutive terms, and it has spent two, meaning 32 more years for the party. Buni said this at the inauguration of the party’s 61-member Strategy and Contact Committee.
In May, National Secretary of the APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee CECPC, John James Akpanudoedehe, told an audience of non-career ambassadors that its membership has experienced an exponential increase from 12 million to 40 million members.
In the 2015 election, President Muhammadu Buhari won with 15,424,921 votes. In the 2019 election, he won with 15,191,847. Do the math. With a membership of 40 million plus, and an election in which Mr Integrity will not be contesting, and assuming without conceding that all 40 million APC members will vote, the road to 2023 is clear, smoothened by a crooked amendment clause in the Electoral Act.
Having worked so hard to solve 2023 problem in 2021, the ruling faction of the power elite can now focus more on the economy, so that voters at least will have enough energy to stand on voting queues which will merely be for the benefit of the international community and global media like CNN, Al-Jazeera and BBC World. Is the picture clear now? Second base jare!