• Thursday, April 25, 2024
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2023 flawed general election(s): Missed opportunity for nation-building

2023 flawed general election(s): Missed opportunity for nation-building


Among other types of government, namely plutocracy, aristocracy, gerontocracy, ochlocracy, and others, democracy is the most popular type of government. And periodic election is a critical and pivotal component of democracy or representative government.

Political leaders are products of periodic elections. And it is a fact that political leaders in a country are representatives of the people. That is why Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people by the people and for the people.

But the democratic governments we have in most African countries are parodies and travesties of a true democratic government. In those countries, the fundamental human rights of the people are trampled upon. And in those countries, the voices of the journalists are muffled.

Their leaderships of their countries are based on their whims and caprices rather than on the constitutions of their countries.

More so, in those countries where pseudo-democratic governments exist, their political leaders are wont to corner their countries’ financial resources for their own use. So today, we have African leaders, who are richer than the states they lead.

Again, those unscrupulous political leaders, who have a warped definition or conception of political power, believe that their occupation of exalted political offices is an ample opportunity for them to loot the financial resources of the countries they govern. And they do not set store with Hugo Grotious postulation on the transience of political power: Government comes and goes, but a state remains forever.

So, not unexpectedly, sit-tightism and political despotism are synonymous with most African leaders. And they our African leaders’ Achilles heel. Think about Kamuzu Banda of Malawi; Paul Biya of Cameroun; Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; Muammar Gadaffi of Libya; Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo; and others.

They would amend the constitutions of their countries to elongate their stay in office. Thereafter, they would use the tools of coercion to manipulate presidential elections in their countries. Their offering of financial inducement to the heads of their countries’ electoral umpires was part of their strategy to win national elections.

In Nigeria, the subversion of the political will of the populace has been integrated into our political culture since 1960 when we became a sovereign nation-state.

That practice of imposing, clandestinely, political leaders on us, which amounts to the subversion of our political will, was first executed by the British imperialists when they helped Alhaji Tafawa Balewa to become our Prime Minister in 1960.

But the subversion of the political will of the citizens hinders the development of their country because incompetent people are put at the helms of affairs.

Those political leaders, who are installed in positions of power, do not possess moral scruples, vision, wisdom, knowledge, leadership qualities, and courage- the qualities required of a political leader, who can turn around the ugly situation of his or country.

For example, the beneficiaries of Nigeria’s egregious culture of imposition of leaders on the populace like Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua could not take Nigeria to the acme of economic and technological development. Rather, they squandered the great opportunities given to them to make Nigeria realize her potential and become the true giant of Africa.

Nigeria, which is the sleeping giant of Africa, recorded the worst political leadership in her political annals under the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari, who will complete his second term in office in May 2023.

Since he took over the reins of power in Nigeria, our naira has always been weak against the American dollar and other foreign currencies.

And his maladministration of Nigeria has brought severe economic hardship on millions of Nigerians, who are, now, living below the breadline.

Worst still, he has failed to solve our problem of insecurity. Have we forgotten how terrorists attacked a train bound for the north and killed some passengers on it? Other passengers on the train were kidnapped for ransom and kept in captivity.

And, the Fulani cattle herders, who are on expansionist drive, have been raiding villages in Taraba and Benue states, pillaging farms and causing the deaths of people there. And till now, bandits, terrorists, and Boko Haram insurgents have not given up their fight to achieve their theocratic goals and personal ends.

So as the political leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari is grinding slowly to an end, millions of Nigerians are heaving a sigh of relief.

They cannot wait to see the back of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose misgovernance of Nigeria is legendary and obvious to us. But sadly, his government had conducted a very flawed presidential election that did not meet global standards.

The election was marked and marred by irregularities, what with countless voters barred from exercising their franchise, the non-use of BVAS in uploading results at polling booths, and the falsification of results.

And the electoral malpractice that ruined the president poll was witnessed at the governorship and state assemblies elections, which took place on March 18, 2023.

In the weeks leading to the governorship election, there was ethnic profiling as well as baiting of the Igbo people in Lagos. Incidents of shooting and snatching of ballot boxes occurred in some states, too.

The governorship election results of Abia and Enugu states were released later than others because it was alleged that some political desperadoes were making efforts to alter those states’ governorship election results.

Read also: Dodgy elections, democracy and divorce

Consequently, now, millions of Nigerians are seething because the presidential election result, which made Bola Ahmed Tinubu the president-elect, is believed not to be a reflection of their political will.

And in some states of the country, some politicians who participated in the governorship and state assemblies elections were dissatisfied with the conduct of those elections because they’re fraught with electoral malpractices.

Some protests have greeted the INEC’s shambolic and farcical conduct of the general election(s), which was a charade.

And it is not unlikely that many political candidates in the 2023 general election(s) will seek electoral redress via litigation at the election tribunal centres and in courts. The Presidential candidates of the PDP and Labour Party, Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, have filed petitions in court, seeking the nullification of the 2023 presidential election result.

The conduct of elections by our electoral umpire, INEC, to elect our political leaders and lawmakers at different governmental levels is part of our political culture.

But manipulating as well as commercializing the processes of electing our political leaders and lawmakers is a disincentive to the development of Nigeria because it makes for the placing of square pegs in round holes.

We are not unconscious of the stark fact that a nexus exists between national development and the quality of political leaders piloting the affairs of the country.

By failing to conduct a free and fair general election, which will lead to the emergence of qualitative leaders, who possess scruples, leadership qualities, fear of God, competence, and fealty, Nigeria is left at the mercy of third-rate political leaders, who cannot embark on the arduous task of nation-building.