Nigeria’s Readiness For 2011 Elections

Nigeria’s crucial moments; her golden anniversary slated for October 1st, 2010 and the 2011 general election scheduled for April 2011 are making international headlines. When the country unanimously drafted law to assert close relationship between one another; there was certain existed principles, every citizen is expected to observe;-a credible election!

We have maintained all along that election remains the best option out of the prevailing political standoff in Nigeria. People in “nigeria4betterrule” forum have made it clear that when we say election, we mean an election that will be participated by all concerned, accepted by all and, more importantly, credible to all. We have also said this government, especially the president, given the fact that he is the commander-in-chief of the present administration; is well-trusted to disprove allegations against the ruling party by her rival opposition parties. President Goodluck Jonathan is fully in-charge to take actions, which will be perceived by all to be directed at preparing the ground for a credible election.

However, we regret to say that, with less than one year to go before the election, the ground is yet to be created. Whereas making the voter list as correct as possible remains integral to the holding of a credible election, the Independent Electoral Commission refuses to redress the allegations surrounding its demand for over N70 billion voters’ registration cards. Instead, it rushed into announcing the schedule for the upcoming general elections, knowing full well that PDP; the ruling party would reject it.

To make matters worse, the commission designated thirty new commissioners to the State commissions, seemingly without any consultation with the law-makers, let alone accommodating the Nigeria public aspirations. We are aware that the president reserves the right to appoint the election commissioners without consulting anyone other than the head of government, elected or appointed. However, as we have maintained all along, the president is in charge of a ‘unity government’ and is expected to balance ‘the obviously partisan tilt of the INEC by infusing multi-party flavour there as well’.

In other words, he is expected to make the appointments in consultation with, and with the consent of, the law-makers. That he had done neither was evident in the alliance’s summary rejection of the new election commissioners. The latest turn of events leaves no doubt in our mind that neither the president nor, through him, the PDP rival parties are willing, let alone ready, to let go of the domination of the electoral process.

Ever since the President Jonathan took oath of office as the commander-in-chief and swore his council of ministers in, the opposition parties and their actions and reactions have only contributed to complicating the political environment. It has issued a war cry whenever the advisers tried to remove the obvious deterrents to the holding of a participatory and credible election but provided unconditional support to President Goodluck Jonathan when his action went explicitly in their favour. The rival parties have encouraged Mr. president, through intimidation and commendation, to go it alone, leaving the sycophants in the dark. And the president has so far appeared only too happy to please the opposition parties, visibly compromising his constitutional obligation as head of both state and government.

Here in Nigeria, the imbroglio that characterizes our leadership phenomenon has seen a complex evolution even though democratic governance was restored in early 1999. Mutual recriminations within the political leadership and lack of faith in existing institutions led to the emergence of the Acting-President concept. Unfortunately, that was also tainted through politicization. Machinations were introduced to create indirect balance on the Nigeria’s polity, judiciary and in the selection of the true leadership who would be entrusted with the task of holding a fair election come 2011.

The vitiated scenario was made more complex by certain individuals trying to implement their own agenda, some named them the cabals, who target the leadership of the two most important political offices; the presidency and the senate, setting forth their minus-two formula and espousing the growth of kitchen presidency not taking into consideration the state of health then president Umaru Yar’Adua who is now late.

Today, threat on leadership zoning formulae has erupted. The north has taken advantage of Nigeria leadership for so long; they had not mentioned zoning all the years they were ruling. It seems unequivocal to accept such embarrassment from the political gurus of that north. By the way; Yar’Adua had ruled for 4 years despite his demise along the line that necessitated Dr. Jonathan to take over; such case is synonymous to Murtala Mohammed’s death while on seat and Obasanjo took over. There has not been a time the south–south nor has the south-east ruled after Dr.Azikiwe and Gen. Ironsi over three decades now. The north vieing to retake power in zoning form is unconstitutional. Nigeria’s constitution has not slated 8-year single tenure for political office holders. This immature attempt to foist new leadership is bound to fail, and it will.

The forthcoming 2011 General elections in Nigeria will re-established the legitimacy of democratic governance. We have now seen over the past few months attempts by political parties to reform their internal organizational paradigm so that they are consistent with the requirements of the INEC. There have been shake-ups and consequent disappointments among several political leaders who have had to give way to new faces. Nevertheless, one has to welcome any movement forward. I believe in this because change and introduction of fresh faces invigorates any group. Stagnancy only creates a morass.

It is the above that persuades me to attach the highest priority to the concept of creating selfless, educated leadership in Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who can help Nigerians in the common quest for a better life, free of corruption, where there will be due process of law and possibility of equitable justice and equal opportunity.

We are approaching the end of the 50th year of our independence. Our population includes nearly 130 million people; some are less than the age of fifty. It is this segment that will have to carry forward the burden of our future. They will have to provide the leadership for re-branding Nigeria. This precious resource has to be handled with care. We have to inculcate within our national consciousness the awareness that there can be diversity, that there can be divergence of opinion, but, at the end of the day, this has to be tolerated and not suppressed. The spirit of democracy underlines that people should be able to agree to disagree. That will require us to inculcate tolerance. We should be able to understand that democracy is not only the rule of the majority but also a rule of the people for the people. Politics need not be a bag of poly-tricks.

This is vital if the present leadership in different fields; politics, science, healthcare, education, trade, commerce, media, culture, arts and industry is to facilitate the creation of new leaders for the future even after the 2011 election.

Democracy has several times been snatched by the autocratic and military dictatorship in our country; Nigeria. Military and autocratic rulers have ruled the country for a long period after the civil liberty struggles. However, democratic activists in the ’90s, despite facing harassment, have succeeded to re-establish democratic process in Nigeria; our country.

At present, the PDP is in state power and its leadership has re-established democracy in the country through a long struggle. We managed to re-establish democracy in 1999 by dint of the courageous leadership. If our country were to derail from the democratic process, the political leadersh

ip would restore it again through straggle. There is no alternative to democracy and the people have repeatedly rejected autocracy and military dictatorship.

Our country is poor and faces a number of problems. It has been dominated by several forces. The country has achieved its freedom under the courageous leadership of pro-democracy activists, politicians like the late MKO Abiolas, the late Ige’s, the living statesmen like Enahoro’s and the rest; they united the whole nation. Some Brave Nigerians within the ’90s and their leadership, wisdom, courage, sacrifice; commitment to the people and patriotism has united the nation to fight against the military rulers. And these qualities adopted by Dr. Jonathan will make him a leader endeared by the Nigerian people.

Although the scenario looks increasingly bleak, we at “nigeria4betterrule” forum still believe it has not gone beyond redemption. With the election schedule about to be announced, it is now up to the INEC to make sure that it officiate an election, which will be participated by the camps on either side of the political divide. The constitution empowers the commission to demand of the Nigeria government for measures that will ensure a free, fair and credible election. As a statutory body, it does not have to play into any partisan scheming and so it should not. It should immediately initiate constructive dialogues with the feuding political camps so that they are encouraged to effectively participate in the electoral process. Election still remains the best option out of the impasse that the country is in. It is now up to the commission to use the option to full effect.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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