December 2, 2022

2023: Election is not war, politicians told

Revitalizing leadership decay in Nigeria

By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja

FOLLOWING the recent upsurge in violent attacks on campaign rallies of political rivals and properties of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, a former Financial Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr Fred Ohwahwa has urged politicians in the country to see the forthcoming general elections as a civic duty and not a war.

This was as the Executive Director, Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, Rev. Father George Ehusani, said Nigeria as a national entity was on the verge of collapse; adding that all the indices of state failure such as an unprecedented level of impunity and orgy of violence across the land, were fast becoming a day-to-day occurrence in parts of the country.

The duo spoke on Friday during the 4th annual lecture of a group under auspices of Just Friends Club of Nigeria (JFCN) with the theme: ‘beyond the 2023 elections: that Nigeria may be saved’.

Ohwahwa, who is the JFCN President, urged politicians in the country to allow voters to perform their civic duties by voting for candidates of their choice. He explained that elections would not be seen to be free and fair in a situation where there is violence, adding that stakeholders, including politicians must allow peace to reign during electioneering.

“Politicians must learn to be civil and recognise that elections are not war. They should also recognise that all of us, including their opponents, have something to contribute to the good of this country. Nigerians should recognise that there will be life after elections, and that we should learn to manage our expectations. We should not think that the election will be a cure for all our problems. We need to change our ways, restructure our country and have better standards,” he said.

On his part, Ehusani, who delivered the keynote address, urged leaders to be more committed to tackling social ills before they get out of hand especially as the 2023 general election is approaching.

His words: “The reason people are being killed with impunity everywhere across the country today, and others are being abducted or kidnapped, is that the perpetrators know they will often not have to answer for their crimes. They know that there are slim chances of their being apprehended or punished for their crimes. So, the crimes continue to flourish. This is the reign of impunity, and no nation can survive for long under such a regime of impunity.

“Let us put political correctness aside and speak the hard truth to ourselves: Does any thinking Nigerian really believe that where we are today is sustainable beyond the immediate? Yes, notwithstanding the familiar posturing of those who are benefiting the most from our ignominious system, does any discerning Nigerian really believe that as presently configured, Nigeria will survive beyond a few more years of fumbling and wobbling on the precipice? We can shout ‘God forbid’ as we may, but quite frankly, my reading of the situation is that unless we change our course, and do so very quickly, we would end up where we are headed: And I say with all sense of responsibility that we are racing imperiously towards a predictable disaster in one form or the other. 

“True, everything in the horizon is suggestive of an imminent implosion, from Sokoto to Calabar, and from Maiduguri to Lagos. Where we find ourselves today is comparable to a boiling pot or a pressure cooker. If we do not find a way to let out the steam, it is bound to explode with devastating consequences.

“Many discerning and privileged Nigerians have seen the handwriting on the wall, and they have been perfecting some form of ‘PLAN B’ for themselves and their immediate family members. But those of us who have no Plan B of any sort, must now take the bull by the horns, and summon the courage to address the major cracks and crevices in our structural arrangements, in our perception and regard for the rule of law and equal citizenship, in our leadership recruitment processes, and in what priority we accord to leadership integrity and accountability”.

Nigeria, he said, was not designed to be as bad as it has become today.

“Nigeria as a national entity is on the verge of collapse. All the indices of state failure are in place. There is an unprecedented level of impunity, and a never-before witnessed orgy of violence across the land. Criminal gangs are holding swathes of the Nigerian territory, bombing state infrastructures, collecting taxes, kidnapping travellers for ransom, sacking whole villages, burning down police stations and INEC Infrastructure, dislodging soldiers from their military outposts, abducting school children – transforming some into child soldiers and others into sex slaves, carrying out mass executions, and sending periodic threats to the Federal Government.

“The apparent lack of political will to crush the marauding bandits across the country, and the near absence of any sanctions for the criminal herders that are terrorizing the population across the country for example, have so utterly divided and polarized the population, have sown so much discord among the people who have lived together for generations; yes, these real and perceived acts of injustice on the part of government, have so terribly induced and elevated political tension across the land,” Ehusani added.