Nigeria’s 2023 election and the challenge from Zambia

General election was held in Zambia, southern Africa, on August 12, 2021 to elect the President and National Assembly. At the end of the exercise, Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party National Development emerged victorious. He defeated Edgar Lungu of the Patriotic Front. He was said to have beaten the sitting president with more than a million votes.

It was Hichilema’s sixth attempt at winning the presidency.

Commenting on Zambia elections and pointing Nigeria to draw lessons from the exercise, Peter Obi, a former vice-presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the last election, congratulated the people of Zambia and described the election as “African Example.”

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He also congratulated the out-going president for showing maturity and the genuine spirit of sportsmanship.

In a release, Obi said he watched the Zambian electioneering process very closely and was satisfied by the conduct of all the parties, especially the government in power that did not have to do things untoward even when it was clear that they were losing the election.

Juxtaposing it with Nigerian election, Obi said that the people of Zambia have shown that election, “unlike what is sadly obtainable in Nigeria and most African countries is not war or atavistic throwback to the era of killing or getting killed, but a civilised act of allowing the people show their political preferences.”

Obi, who said that Zambian election has shown that Africans are capable of organising elections if they embrace right values, called on Nigerian leaders, especially those in power to learn from Zambia for the good and progress of the country reminiscence of how President Goodluck Jonathan handed over in 2015.

Recall that Zambia recently organised an election that is still commended by the world over at which the opposition, led by Hichilema, a businessman, defeated the incumbent, Edgar Lungu, who has led the Southern African nation since 2015.

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The same thing happened in Nigeria in 2015 without the country going into war or unnecessary political crisis. That was when the then President Jonathan boldly told his compatriots that his ambition did not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

The opposition that took over from him cheered and gave him a thumb up for being a statesman and a democrat indeed.

In the euphoria of Jonathan’s non-rancorous exit, Abuja appointed him ECOWAS Special Envoy to oversee elections in the West Africa sub-region. But the big question is: have elections since Jonathan’s exit been free and fair in Nigeria?

But come to think of it, Nigeria claims to be the big brother when it comes to African continent, but has consistently failed to lead the way.

From swimming in debts that generations to come may find extremely difficult to repay to losing its place as investment destination to smaller neighbouring countries, and to having the unenviable tag as a nation that conducts shambolic elections, Nigeria seems to be destroying itself deliberately.

It appears that other nations in Africa have left Nigeria behind. The saddest thing is that those who should be concerned about the sad situation of the country are playing the ostrich. They are like the Emperor Nero who played the fiddle while Rome burned.

The next round of national election is billed for 2023, leaders who were supposed to put every machinery in place for a credible exercise are busy putting in place deliberate stumbling blocks to rig the election in their favour.

That was evident in the wheeling and dealing that took place at the National Assembly over the passage of the amended Electoral Act.

Nothing points to the fact that the current occupants of the power stool at the centre are good sportsmanship that can allow the rules applied appropriately without manipulation.

It is sad that since 2015, Nigeria has been recording less and less number of voters in subsequent elections. Voter apathy has become a phenomenon as many no longer want to “waste” their time when their votes would not count.

When a people lose trust in their government, it means all is not well. That is the situation in Nigeria at the moment.

Would the INEC be able to deliver a credible election? Many Nigerians are also doubtful.

The problem lies with the manner of appointment of the INEC chairman in relation to the aphorism that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

Not many Nigerians are confident that 2023 would be better than what transpired in 2019.

According to analyst’s view, unless a neutral body appoints INEC chairman, anyone appointed by the president would want to render favour for favour, except such an individual is a Brutus as in Caesar’s story in Shakespeare.