Recent bold steps by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to reverse the culture of failed elections in Nigeria notwithstanding, it is hard to identify any seamless election in the country since independence.
For long, we had political violence occasioned by the use of thugs to intimidate opponents and the purchase of voter’s cards along with the resultant massive thumb-printing of ballot papers.
Although thousands of law enforcement agents were brought in to secure the electoral process, hoodlums were still able to compromise election results through the snatching of ballot boxes.
The failure of past analogue arrangements has in the last year greatly influenced the support of the general public for the electronic transmission of results as the only rational solution to the nation’s electoral dilemma.
However, because leaders hardly validly win elections, they have continued to work against what we have all seen to have shown ample efficacy in the latest governorship elections in Edo, Ondo and Anambra. But if we do not halt fake elections, the consequences would be too hard to bear.
Already, it has become evident that there is a correlation between Nigeria’s politics and the current level of collective disturbance across the nation.
Considering that no one segment in society has a monopoly of violence, those who use unwholesome means to win elections and thereafter enjoy perquisites of office and humongous take-home pay, cannot stop other groups from evolving different types of violence for the purpose of joining the wealthy class.
While no effort is being made here to validate the use of violence, the nation must fight against all and not only some of those using unethical means to become rich. We should be fair enough to accept that there is no difference between fake election winners and kidnappers.
They all have the same goals though with different strategies. Indeed, fake winners of elections are worse because unlike kidnappers who get no respect from the public, those who got into lucrative positions by designing strategies that reversed the wish of the people are left to enjoy their undeserved offices.
In addition, such fake leaders are never able to internalize the mandate for them to make the security and welfare of the citizenry the primary purpose of government. Killings in different parts of the country confirm this. Last week, gunmen attacked Ancha village in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau state killing dozens of persons.
It was the third attempt of killings in the state this new year. The day before Ancha’s attack, armed persons ambushed and killed several locals in Tyaan Village in addition to earlier similar killings in Rafin Bauna village. As usual, the narrative has been reduced to who the likely attackers were and how they committed the deadly act. Not much is heard of the government’s arrangements to prevent such senseless killings. The state governor was however reported to have expressed sadness over the attacks.
In other states, where there were reported killings, the governors did not act differently. In Katsina State, for example, the state could do nothing about killings over mining activities.
Following the federal government’s ban on illegal mining in Zamfara State, activities shifted to Katsina State with a report that some soldiers and miners died after a clash over the discovery of huge gold nuggets in Magama, a border village in Jibiya Local Government Area of the state. In Niger State, the governor was left to express grave concern over several barbaric attacks on farmers by terrorists.
Sadly, the worrisome nefarious activities of the terrorists can bring about food scarcity as farmers are no longer able to harvest their farm produce. With people being encouraged to engage in self-defence, it is getting obvious that the fate of Nigerians may not change soon.
In Borno state where killings have subsisted for years now due to insurgency, the revelation by Governor Babagana Zulum that no less than two local government areas are still held by insurgents is grave bearing in mind previous claims that all areas had been recovered by our forces.
More irritating is the fact that despite the numerous killings, politics is going on according to schedule in the country. In fact, our legislators are still enjoying their privileged festive holidays which ended for other public servants 2weeks ago. It is as if our politicians do not care if they are left to govern the dead. They are probably unaware that there are still some Nigerians who deprecate their lack of care for human lives.
Perhaps some of them were taken aback last week when our respected Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka announced his refusal to be involved in the politics in the land of the dead. Rather than rally the nation to face squarely her unprecedented level of insecurity, Nigerian politicians want the dominant issue of discourse to be who has endorsed forthcoming presidential aspirants.
We need more well-meaning citizens to reject the narrative and redirect the attention of our leaders to the fact that those who constitute government are the ones who volunteered (to be paid) to ensure that the security and welfare of every Nigerian are placed above all other activities.
We should therefore not allow them to abdicate from such lofty assignments by merely showing empathy with families of the dead. Nigerians ought to reject this approach of governance by condolence.
There are already signs that those suspected to have the ambition to be in power in 2023 may not change the current posture. Rather than vision statements of hope, some of the aspirants have been engaged in publicized pilgrimages to the villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on their political ambition. Why are they publicizing the visits?
Is it Buhari’s single vote they so earnestly desire or are they trying to tempt the President to help them ‘win’ election after he had publicly disclosed that a free and fair election is the legacy he wishes to bequeath to the nation? The present platform which enables aspirants who visit the President to brief the nation on their otherwise private mission is uncalled for.
What well-intentioned aspirants should be seen to be doing now is to publicly support the electronic transfer of election results which has a greater potential to reflect the real wishes of voters.
As for the efforts to bring down our high degree of national insecurity, the government should consider many suggestions that have been in the public domain for some time now. First, Nigerians are anxious to see the government operating as the major player and coordinator of all the relevant strategies.
In view of the primacy of security among government’s functions, there is a need to put more men on the job. One reason why many believe that government is not as bothered as its officials say is that no effort has been made to consider recalling some able-bodied ex-servicemen, yet our military is said to be overstretched. Again not many appreciate the over-involvement of our military in police duties.
Why can’t the police and other law enforcement agencies increase their numerical strength and be better positioned to cover some of the duties ceded to the military?
In the last week, both the police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have put up some statements that do not portray them as proactive in their approach to our current security challenges.
For example, some 3 days ago, the NSCDC proudly announced that it has successfully shortlisted applicants for employment – an exercise which began in 2019! In the case of the police, the report is that the exercise has been further extended to give room to applicants from Lagos, South-south and Southeast who had previously poorly responded to the advertisement to send in their applications.
While the police force is probably anxious to obey the federal character principle, we dare say such niceties would have been better appreciated in the land of the living. We need to first stop the killings across the nation.