• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

2023 election, the electoral institutions and the rest of us

2023 election, the electoral institutions and the rest of us

Elections will come and go, governance remains. We’ve had a series of elections in Nigeria and now, what do you have to say now that elections are basically over and now it is time for governance?

Whether the federal or a state government is helmed by PDP or APC is immaterial, the issues plaguing our country – many of which have been plagues for decades – still needs to be fixed.

As humans, we are born with certain levels of freedom including the freedom to choose what guarantees our happiness. Jean Paul Saltre once said, “human beings are free to choose but are not free not to choose since a refusal to choose is already a choice made. Not to choose is in fact to choose not to choose.

Freedom is the freedom of choice, it is not the freedom of not making a choice. This is to say that as Nigerians we either have the freedom to choose a better future which guarantees our happiness or be driven by sentiments, religious motives, political profanity and ethnic divisionism.

Imperatively, Nigerians should detest making the mistake of choice so as to free Nigeria from the economic famine and instability it has faced since independence. The 2023 election is a chance for Nigerians to change the narrative of their beloved country by not voting those who, after receiving the necessary support, retreat behind large gates, tastefully decorated homes, with ugly Alsatian security dogs, and a full security force.

Many political charlatans who have recently made their intentions for the 2023 presidential ticket public have started making a lot of promises in an effort to win over the minds of the kids they beat up at the previous masquerade celebration.

They will promise the heavens and the earth while hiding their true selves behind a mask, though. They put up a terrific performance to captivate you while hiding the fact that they are too exhausted to dance. Just beneath the mask, they give you presents that will only be useful to you for a short time and then watch you suffer for the next four years until another masquerade event.

The 2023 election is a chance for Nigerians to change the narrative of their beloved country by not voting those who, after receiving the necessary support, retreat behind large gates

Irrespective of your political or party leanings, all right-thinking Nigerians must all agree at this point that the regretful events that were recorded during the 2019 elections still do not represent the Nigeria of our dreams. That was obviously a nightmare.

The election was marred by killings, ballot burning and violence in every form imaginable; stories of politicians laying siege on INEC collation centres in several states, thugs taking over the voting booths to ensure that no one cast a ballot unless they were there to support a specific party of their choosing.

In short, several lives were lost. So, whilst I am sad that lives have been lost, my greatest fear is that if the police and military continue to go to the highest bidder then we can be sure that Nigerian lives will continue to be lost in and out of election season.

The deeper consequence of this is that when citizens no longer trust the state to guarantee their security, people will resort to self-help and we must note that anarchy is the next junction after self-help.

In my view, notwithstanding the loss of lives and property, what constitutes a real danger is the perception or reality that our institutions — the pillars of our democracy — have been compromised. This in fact would preach that we would never have a free, fair and credible elections. We would also never guarantee the right to life and other freedoms that come with a democracy.

It appears that neither the police nor the military are taking sufficient measures to protect the INEC institution. Political power players are restraining and threatening INEC employees.

What does that say about a country that allows a pastor’s wife to physically slap a pastor in front of the church members and still expects the pastor to preach love? Who among the onlookers would accept the pastor’s preachings?

If INEC employees are treated in this manner, and offenders — regardless of how powerful they may be — can get away with it, we are not only undermining the integrity of the election umpire but also setting a dangerous precedent for future elections in Nigeria.

While politicians will change, our institutions will endure. The heart of a vibrant democracy is our institution. Anything we do to weaken our institutions can never be good for the nation.