Nigerians should intensify the electoral revolution

       By Chima B. Onuoha

“There is a serious challenges of nation building, which must not be left in the hands of corrupt or visionless leaders.”:

It is no longer news that Nigerians have been short-changed in many ways by their leaders, at all levels. The consequences are poverty, high costs of living and high youth unemployment rate, etc. In fact, all economic or development indices are unfavourable in the country. It is against this backdrop that Nigerians were gladdened when President Buhari promised to leave a legacy of free, fair and credible elections. We were deceived that the redesign of the national currency – the Naira and its acute scarcity, was solely to eliminate or reduce vote buying and to discourage corrupting the entire process.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) assured Nigerians on different occasions that the 2023 elections will be technology driven or enabled. The Commission re-emphasized the President’s promise that election results will be transmitted electronically and in real time (immediately).

“I get embarrassed when some Pastors link God to election rigging via their vain utterances, like “it is the will of God that Mr X was announced the winner,” “Do not go to court, in the interest of peace and for God’s sake,” and “take whatever happens as the will of God.” A set of the Religious, who ordinarily should permanently stand for truth and justice, because ostentatious living materialism and other beneficial considerations, speak from the two sides of their mouth. Every sector or segment of our “

The outcome of the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections are in the public domain. There were a lot of irregularities like: INEC’s staff coming late, came with faulty BVAS machines, no passwords and insufficient electoral materials, late accreditation, voter’s suppression, blackmail and intimidation from political thugs, and tribal bigots, compromised INEC ad-hoc staff, falsification of election results, etc. In many places, the figures as announced cannot be said to be credible. 

We missed the opportunity to enthrone politics without money. Nigeria would have been positively embraced in the global arena for successfully entrenching politics with integrity – hence prepared for the onerous task of nation building. Highly ineffective and inefficient administratively and visionless development-wise, politicians are always smart in all things negative. Politicians resorted to the use of foreign currencies to corrupt the process. Shortage of Naira to some extent narrowed the scope of their viciousness. They could not go the whole length.

I get embarrassed when some Pastors link God to election rigging via their vain utterances, like “it is the will of God that Mr X was announced the winner,” “Do not go to court, in the interest of peace and for God’s sake,” and “take whatever happens as the will of God.” A set of the Religious, who ordinarily should permanently stand for truth and justice, because ostentatious living materialism and other beneficial considerations, speak from the two sides of their mouth. Every sector or segment of our society has gone topsy turvy.

It is important to note that successive governments in Nigeria have been toying with the future and destiny of the youths. There are perennial low budgets for education, year in, year out. The other youth empowerment programmes are mere tokenism often hijacked by the elites in government and politicians. There are incessant strike actions because governments are very deceitful and hardly honour agreements, willingly entered into with relevant unions in the education sector. Students over-stay in the various academic programmes, worst still, there are no jobs for those who managed to graduate.

With these humongous odds against them, the youths started envisaging good governance that will guarantee equal opportunity for all. They started looking for educated, competent and selfless individuals, who can provide solutions to what appears to be an irredeemable governance quagmire and the stoppage of recycling old and self-centered politicians. They effectively used the social media to sensitise and mobilise themselves. A good number of adults keyed into the grievance-revenge or payback scheme via subtle electoral revolution. The outcome was both encouraging and remarkable. Like I wrote last week in the article, “Emergence of Electoral and Governance Revolution in Nigeria,” records were made and broken.  It was not business as usual. Some top politicians (who see themselves as demi-gods) were thoroughly mortified for they were defeated in their own fortes. Let me give few examples.

1. As a prominent member of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Imo Rescue Mission in Imo State in 2011, under APGA, my protégées and I started the intellectualization of electioneering campaigns. We were going to radio houses to do real analyses on the benefits of good governance. I was writing articles regularly on various aspects of governance. Imolites were eager and happy to read me. When we succeeded in electing the governor, we were all sidelined; we did not know that there was a grand plan by the governor to build family political dynasty. We call it familiocracy. Being a highly enlightened state, Imolites aborted/truncated that self-serving agenda in 2019. 

I am happy to observe that the 2023 elections have brought back issue-based campaigns; increasing the intellectual contents of political or development discussions. Unprepared contestants avoided public debates and seasoned journalists. This trend of seriousness, hopefully should continue in the future. Jumping into _keke-na-pep_, trekking and dancing with market women, eating akara and bread with school children, etc. all gimmicks of deceit have come and gone. Henceforth, politicians must take the elections and the people serious.

2. A presidential candidate of a national party; the national chairman of a ruling party; a presidential running mate of another national party; Director-Generals of state and national campaign councils, parties’ loquacious spokespersons, former and serving ministers, members of national assembly, notable political godfathers; financiers of political candidates, local government chairmen, etc. could not win their domains – wards, LGAs, zones and states for their respective parties. They lost them to opposing parties, and were humiliated thoroughly.

3. Some serving governors (as it has become common) and their wives, could not win seats to the Senate and House of Representatives for their wives. Some serving members of the national assembly could not win their seats back to Abuja. Why will they? What laws have they made to impact the citizens positively or favourably?

All these are great milestones. Suddenly, we started hearing about mob voting, which made it possible for some unqualified, or novices to be voted into the national assembly. The case of the okada rider is always being mentioned. People quickly forget that the so-called okada rider is a graduate, he holds both NCE and B.Ed and is even more qualified than some of the persons already in the Green Chambers. If our system is not a warped one, will a graduate be driving an okada? Are we not told that the young man in question have noticeable administrative and selfless leadership qualities as a leader or organiser of their union? Is it the reasons why all disrespected or frustrated okada riders mobilized themselves, families, and other down trodden people to vote for him? Do we not have many other graduates who are keke, okada, Bolt, private and company drivers? Are many female graduates not working as receptionists, secretaries, cashiers, and salesgirls in shops, supermarkets, shopping malls and one-flat business outfits in Nigeria and earning peanuts in the process? Are some graduates not POS operators? How about many of the female graduates that are into “runs” to make ends meet? What is drawing many unemployed male graduates into “Yahoo” activities? Why are many youths “japaing” to do menial jobs abroad? Do we not see some police officers on our highways, with first and second degrees, who unfortunately, are from the “wrong” places or tribes, or are of certain religion, wearing ranks of between Constable and Sergeant (all non-commissioned officers)? Why are many companies, particularly manufacturing firms that would provide more jobs to the youths relocating to neighboring countries because of hostile business environments? Are corporate harassments not coming from area boys, political thugs, and all forms of revenue agents (imposing and collecting arbitrarily multiple taxes and levies) and task forces – all working for politicians, especially for governors? The ubiquitous task forces make lives miserable for motorists, commuters and business people. We can go on and on.

Some people are feeling that the on-going electoral cleansing did not go far enough and are being discouraged. Some other people are not happy because their votes did not count, giving the allegations of rigging and result manipulations. Electoral irregularities have been confirmed by many foreign media houses and international observers. The above two factors are leading to voters’ apathy in many quarters. No! That will be the greatest mistake on the part of the youths and Nigerians. They must intensify this electoral revolution. The process of holding our leaders accountable, has started in earnest and it should continue.

Nigerian politicians are experts in gimmicks and deceits. After almost completing their tenure, some governors are announcing the release the promotion of civil servants withheld for many years; do these heartless governors know the full implication of these delayed promotions? Does it not occur to them that a lot of civil servants would have left the system without attaining the appropriate or deserving ranks? Are they aware that there are those in the system who may not get to the peak of their career due to this delay?

Some also promised to pay gratuities and pensioners (not paid for years). Do these wicked governors know how many people that have died because of non-payment of their gratuities and pensions? Others also indicated interest to commence the employment of more civil servants and teachers. Why the urgency? A certain governor released vehicles that have been impounded for months/years. Others are visiting churches and mosques; inviting cultural, trade and professional groups for “discussions”; shaking hands with commoners in the streets; some assembly members are sinking boreholes and buying transformers for their constituents/constituencies. What a hypocrisy! There are also intentions to revive their state scholarship schemes. Why now?

It is only in Nigeria that some privatized companies (hitherto owned by government) are more powerful than the regulatory agencies supervising their activities. The reasons for this are obvious. The heads and staff of these regulatory agencies also know the reasons. Will a customer who is hungry, first of all buy all the food items with his or her money, hand them over to the restaurant to prepare, and after eating forced to pay for the food? Why will Nigerians buy electrical accessories, including meters and transformers, are compelled to pay the electricity distribution companies to come and fix them, and at the end of the day receive inflated bills? The implication is that these electricity distribution companies are above the law and cannot be called to order by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Are these electricity distribution companies no longer private companies? Is it not also inexplicable that nobody, including the legal experts, have tried to untie this anomaly? Having “pocketed” the regulatory agency, all complaints are treated with levity or thrown away out rightly. Nigerians are at their mercy. There is urgent need to have the national and state leadership that will address all the exploitation and impunity of many organizations in the country. My final question on this is: Do Nigerians buy raw materials and machinery for Nigerian Bottling Company, Nigerian Breweries or Guinness to enable them produce and sell their products?

If you go to ten (10) filling stations, one will observe that these ten filling stations have different prices for their products. And Nigerians appear to be completely helpless. No price control. Such brazenness can never take place in any of the small francophone nations in West Africa. That is exactly what the Legendary Fela Anukulapo Kuti called, “suffering and smiling.” Meanwhile, we have the Nigerian Mainstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA). Indeed, Nigeria is a home of aberrations.

Let me state without any equivocation that a country that is desirous and serious about development, or more specifically, that wants to be an industrial nation, must start by addressing its energy crises. Unfortunately, this country has spent billions in both local and foreign currencies on power projects – generation, transmission and distribution. Regrettably, about 5,000 megawatts of electricity is being generated daily and this is for a country of over 210 million Nigerians. Unfortunately, looking at the data of ten African countries that have achieved major strides in addressing their energy crises, the name Nigeria is conspicuously missing. Let me just give two examples. With only 109 million people, Egypt generates 15,683,000 megawatts of power. For South-Africa, with a population of 60.6 million people, that country generates 58,095 megawatts of power. My readers can see serious challenges of nation building, which must not be left in the hands of corrupt or visionless leaders. Meanwhile, Nigeria is blessed with different and varied sources from which she can effectively tackle her energy crises. Examples are coal, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, gas, tide and wave, biomass and waste, etc.

The other day, I saw the governor of Anambra State, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo telling people arrogantly (not wooing them) that any member of the forthcoming house of assembly elections not from his party (APGA) will end up earning just his or her salary and go home.  That the person will never come to him for any development project in his or her constituency. In other words, he intends to continue with the selective development which most governors in Nigeria do. Refer to my article, “The Arrival of Tribesmen in Governance.” (April 7, 2022). I am really surprised that he has not learnt any lessons as direct consequences from all his political gaffes, in recent times. Too bad for a Professor and Governor. I have always seen Professor Soludo as suffering from “self-overestimation” or “superiority complex.” I am happy Anambra people are equal to the task.

Voters should not fall for all these self-serving antics. Intensify the flushing out of politicians that have not served the interest of the masses. Politics in Nigeria has no known philosophy, ideology and principles. It is all about self, family and clique interests. It is possible to see a politician joining three parties in four years. He or she can leave a party adducing hundreds of reasons for leaving, only to rejoin the same party in the near future. The country’s politics is characterized by blackmail, treachery, backstabbing, sell-out, betrayal and ingratitude. The country is in dire need of those who want to genuinely serve the people, with less emphasis on morbid acquisitiveness.

Nigeria is full of paradoxes. Sometimes, I wonder what politicians take people for – dummies, zombies or brainless. Top politicians – governors, former or serving minister, a Senator, a state Chairman of a party or even a contestant, at one level of elections (February 25, 2023), will ask or coerce voters to vote for the contestants of opposing parties (a clear case of anti-party activity) and at another level of elections (March 18, 2023), ask the same voters to make a U-turn and vote for their own candidate(s). What type of rigmarole is this? People (voters) should accord themselves self-respect. Disobey these indiscriminate and selfish instructions. 

It is only in Nigeria one will see government not implementing its owns laws, disobeying court orders brazenly, security agents not protecting citizens, entrenched a politicised judiciary, flawed legal system (leading to dysfunctional justice) and have a rubber stamp state and national assemblies. Having a strong, fearless and patriotic opposition in Parliament, State and National Assemblies is the real check on the excesses of the Executive Arm of Government. 

Regrettably, Governors in Nigeria have constituted themselves as cogs in the wheel of progress and development in Nigeria. They single-handedly select those to go to Senate, House of Representatives and State Houses of Assembly. Governors are too imperialistic. These are the reasons why the local government arm of government has not gotten its autonomy. They are blackmailing members of the national assembly not to dare approving full autonomy for that third tier of government or face the consequences of not returning to the Green or Red Chambers. They want free or entire access to the local government funds via the nebulous joint state and local government accounts. In most states, governors appoint sole administrators and councilors into councils for a tenure of three months and a maximum of six months. And these unwholesome administrative/political and anti-democratic practices may go on throughout their tenure. Are we surprised that no development goes on in virtually all LGAs in Nigeria?

The case of members of state houses of assembly is more pathetic. Members of state houses of assembly are by all intents and purposes, personal staff, and more appropriately, domestic staff of governors. They are subservient. When the Supreme Court of Nigeria sacked an elected governor, replacing him with someone that came fourth in the elections, the first person that decamped to the new governor’s party was a member representing the former governor’s constituency. 

Till date, nothing meaningful has come out of that state’s house of assembly. It is a dead house. It is as bad as that. In any case, there is always a pay-back time. Simplicita! It is a natural arrangement.

The Business Insider Africa have just released top ten most powerful countries in Africa, 2023. The so-called giant of Africa – Nigeria, was found missing. The following countries made the list: Egypt, South-Africa, Morocco, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tunisia, Rwanda, Algeria, Ivory-Cost and Ghana. This speaks volume and is a food for thought for our leaders.

In conclusion, in the past couple of days, there has been threats and intimidations across the nation, particularly in Lagos, to achieve voter suppression and apathy. People should not succumb to this un-democratic ploy or cheap blackmail. In one South-East state, a deranged person shared a video that went viral on how they will maim and use some people to do ritual if his party is not voted for on March 18, 2023. 

One starts wondering what the security agents are doing about the intending break down in law and order orchestrated by fanatical or devilish politicians and their lackeys. There is now a sinister statement where, when people are complaining about stolen mandate, they say “go to court!” The full import of this statement is being awaited by Nigerians. It will surely be a test case for the judiciary. There have also been appeals, begging and wooing of voters. This is a better approach. Come March 18, 2023 

Nigerians should come out en-masse and vote for credible, competent and self-less politicians across party lines. They should also protect their votes. More importantly, we need strong state houses of assembly, to checkmate the overbearing powers of governors, many of whom do not have the mental and professional mindset, including harnessing the enormous internal resources at their disposal to develop their states. Remember my article, “The Shame and Curse of Monthly revenue Allocation in Nigeria” (October 2, 2022). Any governor who is seeking reelection and who did not do well in his first tenure should be roundly rejected. This is via not voting for him. We need wealth and business creators in all the states of the federation. If this happens, gradually, the economic and development fortune of Nigeria will be turned around for the benefit of all and sundry.

Related posts

Leave a Comment