At last, after many months, weeks and days of preparation, the time to choose and decide who becomes the next president of the most populous black nation in the world is here. It is just some hours away and for Nigeria and the rest of Africa, it is a sobering moment.
Before now, the 2023 presidential election seemed like eternity. In the post military era, perhaps no other election has generated so much interest and anxiety as tomorrow’s election and the reasons are legion.
The national discourse in Nigeria in the last three or four years has been consistently predicated on 2023 as a watershed year of democratic change in the country. The change that has been widely expected is from a visionless, inept and rudderless incumbency to a more responsive and purposeful political destination.
For the simple reason that the present administration has earned for itself a long list of negatives in the business of governing the country, Nigerians cannot wait for the administration to quit which is why tomorrow’s event is widely seen as a date with history.
It is pertinent for us to advise that, traumatised and harassed as we are today because of bad governance or lack of it, Nigerians should discountenance ethnic or religious considerations and go for the best man
Today, Nigeria is beset with a lot of problems and crises such as perennial fuel scarcity, comprehensive insecurity, high level poverty, institutional decay, unprecedented disunity, and just a few hours to election, an unprecedented and unusual cash crunch that has crippled the economy.
Perhaps, in other jurisdictions where primordial considerations other than capacity, competence and character don’t come into play, it wouldn’t have been a critical or sobering moment for people to just go out there and choose their leader. But Nigeria is a different environment.
In life generally, choice is sublime; it is also sovereign, but it could be brutal in its impact which is why whether as an individual or a collective, we are advised or encouraged to be wise in the choices we make because they have a way of determining what we become much long after.
As a country and as a people, Nigeria and Nigerians had made choices of leadership in the past and from their experience as reflected in bad governance, poverty and growing inequality, slow economic growth, corruption, insecurity among others, wrong choices were made and that was because decisions were based on primordial considerations.
Besides their personalities and what they stand for, the choice of the next President of Nigeria will be determined by one or all of three factors including ethnicity, religion and poverty which, for us, is unfortunate because, collectively, these factors, except poverty, have divisive tendencies.
Given the desperate moment in which the country finds itself today due to bad choices made in the past that were guided by these primordial considerations, the questions on our lip are whether Nigerians have learnt any lesson; will ethnicity, religion or poverty guide the choices to be made tomorrow?
It is pertinent for us to advise that, traumatised and harassed as we are today because of bad governance or lack of it, Nigerians should discountenance ethnic or religious considerations and go for the best man who will not only change the current narrative, but also redirect the country’s perilous and rudderless sail.
Though there are as many as 18 contenders to this coveted seat, a cursory look at the whole scenario shows a three-horse race where the flag bearers of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) are on close call.
With less than 24 hours to the moment of decision, it is worrisome to note that the atmosphere in the country is not only charged, but also explosive which is why we join all men of conscience and good will to enjoin Nigerians to be cautious and peaceful.
Arguably, the three top contenders are formidable personalities, especially on the basis of the values they represent, but each of them sees himself as the candidate to beat, not strictly on the issues he has canvassed but more on the things that, unfortunately, divide and confound us as a people.
Time has come for us to change this narrative. Let us go for whoever we consider best suited for the job because, for us, this job is not about today or about the present generation of Nigerians, but generations unborn.
In doing this, we advise that nobody should be left behind because we agree completely with Pluto, the great philosopher, that “bad governments are elected by ‘good’ citizens who don’t vote.”
What Nigeria needs desperately today is change; change in the status quo. Any Nigerian that likes himself and the continued existence of the country should rise above ethnicity and religion to make this change happen. Poverty should not be an excuse to truncate this march to a new order.
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We have to be truthful and sincere to ourselves; we must agree that it is impossible to compact in a few words and sentences the gloom that has ruled and ruined our lives as a people in the last decade of our existence. It has been a decade of poverty, hunger, suffering, and injustice.
What the world has seen within this period is a country where words like tragedy, disaster and violence have become not just the stuff of everyday life, but also a means of solving problems, where bandits and soldiers walked the streets and gave substance to fear.
Because of all these contradictions, we see the next president as one that already has his job cut out for him, but above all, we need a president who understands how modem economy works; an economic manager who understands that the suffering being experienced now due to the cash crisis is likely to have more long-lasting and far-reaching negative impact than earlier thought.
We, therefore, advise that in choosing our next leader, we must be properly guided; we must do so without sentiments.