• Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why 2023 election should concern Nigerian elite

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Since the return to democracy in 1999, there has been a steady rise in voter apathy among the electorate, according to data from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The sad recurring development is worsened by the fact that members of the elite group in Nigeria, who have a great deal of influence on government policies and even who become the president of the country, hardly exercise their civic duties on Election Day.

For most of them, it is preferable to relax in their cosy living room, watch election proceedings on their giant television screen and criticise the exercise from there, while their families, especially children, are safe in foreign lands.

However, the 2023 election is likely going to be different for these influential folks because of the enormous damage to the country, especially the economy and security by the present administration in the last seven and half years.

According to pundits, the 2023 election is going to see new trends because of many reasons and dynamics never seen in the political history of Nigeria, and these, according to them, are already putting enough pressure on the elite to act rather than talk in 2023.

Speaking on why the forthcoming election should concern the elites, Arthur Ezeani, a member of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Anambra State, noted that, “MAN has been raising alarm on the collapsing sector due to the harsh economy and most of these elite have shares in these outfits. So, their investments are going and without money the elite will lose their influence and control of the masses.”

Ezeani, an auto component manufacturer and exporter, disclosed further that the elite are on the verge of losing all if the country continues on the momentum of its economic woes, no planning, corruption and insecurity in 2023.

“The elite will vote in 2023 because if they don’t and also fail to fight to ensure that their votes count, the leader that will emerge will sink their remaining investments and leave them to beg for survival.

“The case will be dog-eat-dog because if the incoming election goes to an incompetent candidate, it will be worse than the present in shutting out opposition. Ibeto Cement is a case study. They will vote, I will vote too in Lagos,” the manufacturer assured.

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Also looking at the economy, Samuel Onikoyi, a Nigerian researcher and academia in Brussels, Belgium, noted that the elite have no option but to vote and vote right in 2023 because of the current realities in the country, which is crippling their investments as Nigeria has witnessed the worst inflation, Naira devaluation, unemployment and insecurity in the last seven years.

Considering the above, he noted further that in the last seven years of the present administration, the influence of the elite class has declined so much that they couldn’t stop #EndSARS protests, which they would have easily done before with just phone calls.

“The elite are losing their economic power and if you take away the economic power of the elite, their influence will go away. I see them coming out to vote out of selfishness to restore their influence and secure their investments,” Onikoyi said.

Coming from a political perspective, Chijioke Umelahi, an Abuja-based lawyer and a onetime Abia lawmaker, there will be good turnout of members of the elite group in the 2023 election because of the implications of voting the wrong candidate.

“Nigerians are suffering today for their wrong choices at the 2015 and 2019 elections. Then, voters sat on the fence, many said their votes would not count, a narrative sold by election riggers. Today, many have woken up, including the elite because they are suffering the economic hardship in the country too, at least insecurity has pegged them to their safe homes and bulletproof cars. A lot of them are going to vote in 2023,” Umelahi said.

For convenience, Umelahi said that INEC has always designated some special polling units and booths in the rich neighborhoods across the country, sadly these rich folks did not care before, but they will care now.

“It takes just one policy to ground a multibillion dollar investment in Nigeria and a wrong candidate can formulate such a policy in a rush just to bring down perceived opposition, while also collapsing many businesses and people depending on that singular investment. I think the elite are wiser now, if they could support the removal of Jonathan, they can also vote to stop a wrong candidate from emerging president in 2023,” Umelahi said.

For Demola Ositelu, a serial investor, Maritime guru and an emerging elite, there is no elite without money and influence. But he regretted that the Nigerian middle-class has vanished in the last seven years, the elite class declined too and the masses are very hostile to them because they think the elite are among the cabals and part of the problems of the country.

For the sake of the economy, security and peace, Ositelu assured that the elite will vote in the 2023 election.

“Of course, you cannot be an elite in a country in disarray, where you can be kidnapped at your daughter’s wedding, where touts are taking over your influence, where your passport is not regarded abroad, where the most corrupt or least educated is your leader. That will be a shame if the elite allow it to happen in 2023 and that will finally bury the elite class,” the ocean-going ship owner decried.

On why the members of the elite class will likely go to the poll next year, Elizabeth Amah, an accountant by profession, said “the rich have also cried all through the seven years till now.”

Amah said: “Tell me who is not feeling the bite of the bad governance? Some of the rich people I know have had to recall their children schooling abroad because they could not access foreign exchange or their sources of income had taken a hit that they no longer have the wherewithal to give their children such foreign education.

“Some of them have at time or the other been kidnapped or paid hefty ransom to secure the freedom of kidnapped relations. Many of them are so scared now that they no longer move around because of insecurity.”

Amah further said: “Look at the economy; some of them I know are no longer running at full throttle in their businesses. They cannot keep up with the increasing running cost. How much is a litre of petrol or a litre of diesel? I think, some of them I have interacted with have said they would vote this time around. Do we need to tell someone who is hard of hearing that war has broken out? There is fire on the mountain and everybody is running.”