Tunde Ayodeji, a 30-year-old father of two, who was recently laid off following the revenue shortfalls that compelled his former employer to carry out reduction in workforce, said that 2023 is a make or mar year.
The postgraduate student, who has spent many years beyond his expected academic year due to the never-ending industrial action by lecturers, said Africa’s most populous country needs a capable leader to steer the ship away from worsening insecurity, alarming poverty level, worrisome economic indices, among others, and also put the country on a redemptive path to safe waters.
Like Ayodeji, many Nigerians are looking forward to a breath of fresh air this year.
Weakened by doom and gloom, the young man who found solace in running a barbershop and simultaneously operating a Point of Sale (PoS) business to eke out a living, was further buffeted by the daily hike in petrol prices, which has left him with no option but to cool his heels in the pool of patience.
“We have been in dire straits, subjected to untold hardship with unfavourable economic policies in the past few years with no hope in sight. Elections in some countries herald a new beginning and people heave a sigh of relief but the reverse has been the case for us as politicians, known for their artfully persuasive skills, lavish promises but fail to live up to expectation,” he said.
He further said that on many occasions, the electorate had been to the polls to cast their votes, return home rejoicing and shout hurrah to usher in a new leader with the hope that there will be a promising turning point, but, time and again, all have been in vain as it seems the challenges persist despite successive governments’ interventions to revamp the ailing sectors.
+In the face of the numerous difficulties confronting the nation, the seemingly dejected unwaged adult, after watching the evocative pictures and videos of different political contestants giving so much hope and expectations to Nigerians through their respective beguiling voices, said there is still glimmer of hope that the nation will recover its lost glory and regain its position on all fronts only if elected officials are deliberate about rescuing the country from collapse.
It has been adjudged that the last few years have not been a palmy one for many, and in view of the mounting citizens’ interests in the presidential election slated for February 25, 2023, keen observers are of the view that despite the aesthetically pleasing résumés being exhibited, it will not be a cakewalk for whoever wears the cap as he will be faced with the several hurdles of fixing the knotty issue of putting Nigeria on a redemptive path.
Matthew Edaghese, a Benin-based lawyer, told BusinessDay that the Nigerian masses see the forthcoming presidential election as a window to achieve liberation from the politics of retrogression that has been on over the years.
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“The forthcoming election is going to be tied to issues that have direct bearings with the aspirations and yearnings of the people. We have economic crisis, security crisis and infrastructural deficit. There is general gloom among Nigerians in all facets; salaries are not able to take people home and schools are not functioning. These are the issues that will define the polls by February.
“Nigerians are ever determined to salvage their sinking destiny. There is an existential threat and Nigerians are cautious of this reality. They are fighting the battle of their life.
“A new direction is what they are looking for; a total departure from the past, where power is acquired for the sake of power and for the benefit of the few. They are looking for a situation where power will be acquired for the purpose of serving the people, meeting up with the aspirations, salvaging their destinies, and, by extension, the destiny of the nation called Nigeria. So, anything outside this narrative will not appeal to the people.
“All Nigerians are contesting; they are contesting against maladministration, they are contesting against insecurity and economic gloom. They want a better deal and that is what their focus is on, not rhetoric, not cheap blackmail, not sentiments, not manipulations,” Edaghese said.
Sharing his thoughts on whether there will be a change in the narrative in terms of holding elected officials accountable, Edaghese said rescuing the country is a decision that is fundamental and the leadership quality will be determined by the voters’ choice.
According to him, the citizens want to rescue the nation and it is the basis for the anxiety, consciousness and reawakening of the people towards the 2023 February poll. Whether the country sinks or floats, it will be decided at the polls. A wrong political decision will sink the country while a wise one will salvage the country.
“It is a condition precedent. If you want elected officers to be accountable, then you vote for a responsible candidate. You don’t vote for irresponsible candidates with proven record of negativity, treachery and expect them to perform like saints; that will be flogging a dead horse to walk.
“So, if you want a departure from the past where leaders are accountable to the people, then you vote for a candidate who has integrity, proven track record of responsible handling of political offices in the past or private lifestyles. You can tell the horse that will do well in a race during a rehearsal than the race proper.
“Where Nigeria is headed postelection will be determined by what happens at the polls, where they want to go is what they should do at the polls. The votes will determine their destiny. They will not vote wrongly and expect to travel on a positive lane. The track they will travel will be determined by the decision they take at the ballot. If they vote for sentiment and allow parochial interest to blur their focus and vision, then they stand the chance of facing the unpleasant consequences of their choice. If they vote rightly, Nigeria will go right and the direction towards that trajectory to a new Nigeria will be birthed,” he added.
Osazee Edigin, a human rights activist and coordinator of Action for Socio-political and Economic Change (ASEC), in his opinion, said Nigerians will be looking forward to a president that will upturn the dwindling economy of the country, hoping that the growing citizens’ interest in the polity and engagements with elected officials will prompt improvements in terms of transparency and accountability going forward.
“A president that will increase local production against the importation of almost everything that has led to the continuous weakening of the naira. If the economy of Nigeria rebounds, Nigerians will be happy for it.
“A lot of things have gone negative in the past few years and prominent among them is the state of the economy. It will take a deliberate action and the right egghead to salvage the country. It’s not something that is not possible if the problems are understudied and the appropriate solutions followed painstakingly,” Edigin said.
In the same vein, Jonathan Enegide, a legal practitioner, said that it would not be business as usual post-election, saying, “I see a new Nigeria of people who are ready to hold their leaders accountable. When these politicians are divided, then the average Nigerian becomes a beneficiary because it is only when they are united in criminality that it becomes the norm to be oppressive. But when there is a break in their ranks, it is a sign that better things will come.”
Enegide, who opined that it will not be tea party for any person that will take up the mantle of leadership amid the daunting challenges, expressed hope that there will be positive development, “but it will come in trickles and, subsequently, things will take shape.
“It has been one expectation too many; Nigerians will continue to expect and, in the end, their expectations are often not met. Virtually all of them are resigned to fate. It is often said that the best way not to get disappointed is not to expect anything. Be that as it may, we expect a Nigeria that should be turned around, a Nigeria that should be built from the scratch.
“Nigeria is on a serious crossroads. Virtually all the sectors are down. The private sector is worst hit, everything has been in the stranglehold of a few, greedy politicians who know nothing about administration. The expectation we have, on a positive note, is the emergence of a leader that is divinely positioned to come and rescue Nigeria.
“If we get it right in terms of leadership, I think there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Though with so much rots, so much devastation, Nigeria can bounce back if we get it right at the point of leadership,” he added.