• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

2023 and Nigeria’s future

2023 election, the electoral institutions and the rest of us

In the last few weeks, many political gladiators have thrown their hats into the presidential ring. At the state level, a lot of commissioners and other political appointees have resigned based on the new requirements in the Electoral Law in order to pursue their political ambitions.

Predictably, the list of the presidential candidates continues to grow from whichever side we look at it, and there are some insinuations that the next president has not come out yet. Those who hold this view based their arguments on the fact that Nigeria’s past presidents never wanted that position. It was fortune that smiled on them.

Coincidentally, the past presidents who were drafted into the race unprepared ended up becoming disasters for the nation. They were never prepared and the tasks of presidency caught them unaware.

Benevolence in political circles has always been the hallmark of politics. So this cannot be the basis for denying the recipients of such political benevolence, their rights to political career development

Thus far, the electioneering campaigns have focused on non-important issues. Some of the non-issues that have made the headlines border on why some candidates should not express their interest in the presidential race on the ground that such expression of interest would amount to “betrayal” in view of their past relationships with their benevolent godfathers. Another issue borders on zoning.

The new dates for Nigeria’s 2023 general elections indicate that the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 25, 2023, while governorship and state assembly elections will come up on March 11, 2023. By implications, the general elections will hold in less than a year’s time from today.

Benevolence in political circles has always been the hallmark of politics. So this cannot be the basis for denying the recipients of such political benevolence, their rights to political career development.

Rather, we urge that political gladiators should learn how to persuade their opponents to jettison their ambitions for a win-win benefit.

On zoning, it amounts to a perversion of justice when a region that has benefited from an agreement suddenly develops cold feet, creating the impression that its entire existence will be lost should the presidency go to other regions of the country.

It should be noted that such a very sensitive issue should not be allowed to shatter the very foundation of Nigeria.

In fact, denial of the existence of zoning will further worsen the calls of disintegration of the country whose demand has grown widely in recent months.

Nigeria is currently facing unprecedented challenges. There is an upsurge in the level of insecurity in the country, and this has affected so many sectors such as agriculture, FMCG, manufacturing, and services.

In 2021, agriculture contributed 25.88 percent to the nation’s GDP. During same period, services contributed 53.56 percent to Nigeria’s GDP. Nowadays, it is hard for farmers to access their farms due to insecurity. If they are not kidnapped by terrorists, herders will destroy their farms and have them killed should they resist the attackers. On many occasions, their animals will be stolen.

Apart from intensifying poverty, this trend has become a source of discouragement to many would-be youth farmers and investors.

Meanwhile, Nigeria is not producing enough crude oil to optimise benefits from the upward swing in crude oil prices. According to official account, over 80 percent of crude are stolen by vandals.

Worse still, the nation lacks local refining capacity, which is why the little gains from crude oil sales evaporate through subsidy payment. The comatose refineries gulped billions of naira annually as overheads for refining nothing. This is in addition to billions of dollars expended on rehabilitation of refineries.

Unemployment is high, and youth unemployment is even much higher. The increasing rate of social vices such as kidnapping for ransoms, ritual killings and theft have been attributed to high youth unemployment.

Read also: Nigeria Decides 2023: What to think about the presidential declarations

What is more, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike for months due to Federal Government’s refusal to honour the agreement it signed with the Union in 2009. For over a decade, The Federal Government pretended everything was all right until ASUU was fed up. The end results of these strikes will not favour the nation.

who could afford it will travel abroad to continue their education, leading to further brain drain, while those who could not afford foreign education may drop out of school, thus denying the nation of their prime contribution to Nigeria’s growth.

In all of the politicking, we have seen, none of the presidential contestants is talking about the economy. No one is talking about insecurity, education, infrastructure, food insecurity thereby offering practicable solutions to how these will be addressed in a way that makes sense. The truth is that the time is now to discuss these issues not afterwards.

We wish to note here that this was the practice in the past in which the upshot was that unprepared leaders were produced for the nation.

At this point in time, Nigerians must extract commitments from the presidential candidates. One of the ways to get this done is by mandating each candidate to come up with printed manifesto so that cases of denials will be completely eradicated.

It is also the responsibility of the Nigerian electorate to eschew immediate gains and focus on the medium- to long-term benefits for the country. This is not the time to collect rice, N1,000 or Ankara from politicians. Those ‘Greek gifts’ that the electorate collected in the past have made Nigeria a retrogressive state. This must stop.

Thus as 2003 approaches, we enjoin the electorate to effect a much higher level of civic rigour. This is with a view to ensuring that our democracy acquires more vigour and depth.