Due to purported security concerns and other technical challenges, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nigeria – the country’s chief electoral umpire – has postponed the general polls that were initially scheduled to hold between February 14th (Presidential and National Assembly) and 28th (Governorship and State Assembly) 2015, to March 28th (Presidential and National Assembly) and April 11th (Governorship and House of Assembly), 2015.
The postponement of the polls expectedly elicited mixed reactions from both within and outside the country as observers have expressed their opinions on the sudden shift in the electoral calendar. While some see the move as being in the right direction, others have carpeted it as being ill-timed. Had the elections held, as planned, it would have presented Nigerians with another golden opportunity to choose their next crop of leaders at both the Federal and State levels and arms of government; an opportunity to select the most capable hands to govern them, and to reject those not qualified to do so; another opportunity to clean up the leadership rot that had bedeviled the system for so long.
Elections have always presented Nigerians with escape routes from the debilitating challenges – of inept leadership, grinding poverty in the midst of plenty, infrastructural decay, debilitating corruption, cyclical unemployment, insecurity of lives and properties and sundry other avoidable deficits of democracy – that are traceable to the several years of maladministration festooned on the country by successive administrations – civilian and military – since independence.
The Eclectic Approach to the Study of Politics and Political Systems believes that a combination of perspectives – a holistic view of the structures, functions of political institutions and the behavior of those animating them – leads to a more comprehensive outcome. So, going by the postulation of this multidimensional school of thought, the searing challenges currently confronting the Nigerian state, especially those of democratic governance, should not be solely blamed on leadership deficits – some other equally significant variables should also be considered. Blind followership, in addition to poor leadership, should also be included in any comprehensive analysis of the contemporary challenges facing the Nigerian State. Reasons for this line of argument are not farfetched.
There is an old saying that “people get the type of government they deserve”. Thus, it is incumbent on the people, especially in a democracy, to elect the right type of people to administer their country’s affairs, and if they elect casually, they should be ready to face the consequences of their actions, good or bad. Nigerians have failed to key into the opportunities past elections presented them to make the much needed change in their country’s leadership structure; have failed to utilize the major strengths of this most powerful democratic weapon to put the country back on the path of development and growth. Agreed that past electoral processes were not as open, free and fair – as is gradually becoming the reality in recent years – Nigerians themselves are as culpable as the political class they keep blaming for the inconsistences and malpractices that have turned elections into the comic shows they have largely turned out to be.
It is sad to note that after several years of trial and error politics, Nigerians seem not to have learnt from history; disheartening to see that we keep making the same blunders that have defined our political graduations since the birth of the “Republic”. As clearly depicted by the intransigencies of the political class and the lecherous roles of some members of the public, prelude to INEC’s rescheduling of the 2015 polls, Nigerians obviously want things to remain the way they are. The comportment of the political class, prior to the postponement was not only embarrassing, it was completely outrageous. It was just like the preexisting Babel, prior to the several military incursions that punctuated the country’s political evolution after independence; a season of uncensored brigandage where politicians deployed the most savage weapons they could muster against their opponents. From the use of blind propaganda – on regular and social media – to demonize their opponents, distribution of the traditional handouts to the electorates to garners their support, holding rallies that served as fora for dishing out white lies to the ever impressionable public, hiring and deployment of thugs to influence voters, it was wild, wild Nigeria all over again.
Also grossly disappointing were the actions of some members of the public from whom much decorum was expected, having been the chief victims of the callous dispositions of the directionless leadership this country has successively produced over the years. It was sad to observe the manner Nigerians joined the bandwagon of madness once again as if oblivious of the deplorable state of the nation after several years of maladministration. At the several rally centers across the country, in the media – regular/social – in words and actions, Nigerians betrayed their ignorance of the current sad realities confronting them. While some took sides based on ethno-religious and other primordial considerations, others just followed the tide like zombies; like the empty-headed incarnates of buffoonery they are.
That Nigeria needs to be reborn is a fact that can no longer be overemphasized – it is a sacred task that must be accomplished. The Nigeria of today is a far cry from the dreams of the founding fathers; a shameful sham that has become the sick man of Africa; a comatose white Elephant project that has never really taken off; a lethargic dinosaur in critical ferment. Is it not preposterous and unacceptable that, fifty four (54) years after political independence, and a hundred (100) years after it formally came into being as a political state, this vast treasure chest has continued to underachieve? Does it not pain to the marrow that Nigerians themselves – both the rulers and the ruled – have continued to conspire to throw their country back to barbarous times? We are all casualties of this sordid state of affairs; all victims of our crass actions and inactions; all guilty of the detestable crimes we whine about every day.
For solutions to the burgeoning challenges the Nigerian State has had to grapple with over the years, Nigerians must begin to look inwards and start re-examining themselves critically and rethinking the complementary roles they have been playing in the national tragic comedy that is being exhibited before the watching world today. We must resolve to do a complete detour from our old ways and become reborn in our minds and actions. The change we blab about should start from within us. From the politicians who rig elections using the crudest means they can contrive; voters who sell their franchise for cups of rice and other miserly handouts; security agents who side with candidates with the largest wallets; youths who allow moneybags to use them as cannon fodders to either intimidate voters, snatch ballot boxes or foment electoral violence; INEC officials who assists politicians in falsifying figures to the advantage of certain candidates; to several other participants in the electoral process, too numerous to mention for lack of space, the onus rests upon all stakeholders to make Nigerian work.
Responsible, responsive and productive leadership are all functions of intelligent followership. When we bring the right people into office, positive change will naturally be the result. There is no short cut to success. The horse must be put before the cat for progress to be made. The new election dates has given us ample time to proper consider the right candidates that can truly carry our dreams and aspirations on their shoulders for the next four years. We have enough time to sieve through the large cache of aspirants canvassing to be given the mandates to shoulder the gargantuan responsibilities of leading Nigeria into that new era of prosperity and greatness that has, until now, remained a utopia. Getting to Eldorado is a possibility if we put square pegs in square holes; that is all things being equal.
Here is calling on all eligible voters in Nigeria to come out en mass to participate in the forthcoming elections. Go to the designated centers and collect your Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and when Election Day comes, speak out firmly and boldly by voting in the most qualified candidates. Vote for development and growth! Vote without fear or favour and be ready to defend your votes if need be! Vote for positive change! God bless Nigeria!