Election or War, the Nigerian Mega Question? by Salam Amdi
Posted On Mar 26, 2015
Nigeria has always held general elections since its 1st republic on the backdrop of its Independence in 1960, First general election in 1959, Second republic 1979/1983, Third Republic (thwarted 1993) election and sequentially since the upstage of the fourth republic in 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and the long awaited 2015 election, but what is different about this election that has generated so much tension? Simple, there are two major candidates who are strongly in the race each with clear cut chances of winning, the incumbent, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (PDP) and major opposition, General Muhammadu Buhari (APC).
A chance for the Nigerian people to either return their candidate or select a new one
Once again, Nigerians have been placed with a choice of determining who would lead them for the next 4 years, and as such are keen to demonstrate their democratic obligation by either voting out the incumbent President or retaining him, or vote in a retired General who many believe is a man of integrity.
A very strong and Formidable Opposition party
Since the return to democratic rule in 1999, Nigeria has been ruled by a One-Party Dominance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which has been argued by many to be as a result of the well structured nature and institutions of the party as well as the truly nationalistic nature which cuts across every region, state, ethnicity and religion as opposed to the minor political parties that have come up against it, (AD, ACN, ANPP, CPC) who were largely considered tribalists or regional parties but with the merger of these parties to form a truly nationalistic party (All Progressives Congress) cutting across all social stratification and a formidable opposition who are now capable of unseating an incumbent President.
A chance to benefit financial materials from politicians
Also for many, the periods of elections are always that of a situation when a few people get to benefit truly from the various groups of politicians either politically, financially or materially and to others “a chance to benefit from the stomach Infrastructure “being thrown around by politicians in their quest to get rural and lower class support for election or re-election. The 2015 election has not been left behind in this trend of vote buying with political parties customization of food items such as rice bags, oil tins, bread, garri, beans etc bearing logo of the political parties and their candidates, in other situations, books, bags, sandals and other school equipment have been given to school children in an effort to induce their parents to go in favour of the said party, in other aspects, political thugs have been hired to attend political rallies, campaigns etc and in some cases been involved in fracas that has led to robbery, killings and public nuisance all in an effort to impress their political warlords. In February, the National Human Rights Commission had noted that over 56 people had been killed in 25 different pre-election attacks with Lagos and Rivers state recording the highest of death incidents.
Innovation of Card reader and PVCs
The recent innovation of the INEC which introduces the use of Card reader Devices and Permanent voters Card otherwise known as PVCs is one which seeks to eliminate election irregularities like multiple voting and voters card verification. The introduction of this advanced technology hence gives the electoral process a level of credibility hence so much anxiety about the upcoming election, However with the Electoral management body giving assurances of 70% Card reader effectiveness, but as to how effective will this be on election day is to be seen come Saturday, March 28th and April 11th.
Performance of the Incumbent
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the incumbent will have his government policies satisfaction tested come March 28, by the Nigerian people as many unanswered questions still remain unanswered with corruption crippling activities of the current government in the Oil sector most especially with the decline in crude oil prices in the world market and oil still being a major contributor to both domestic and foreign exchange revenue that has led to the collapse of the Nigerian currency which now exchanges for 220 naira against the dollar from 162 naira last year leading to a decline of trade in the capital market due to uncertainty.
Security remains a serious and relevant issue especially to the major opposition party APC which has banked on this pressing issue as a campaign heavyweight, though in the last six weeks, positive and advanced progress has been made by the Nigerian Armed Forces in collaboration with neighboring African forces with the African Union (A.U) approving 10,000 troops for the fight against the insurgent group, Boko Haram who recently pledged their allegiance to international terrorist Group, ISIS a well coordinated and financially buoyant group. A stinker however would be the continuous bombing and “almost on a daily basis bombing of individuals”, slaughter of School boys in the North East and the still missing Chibok girls which the government initially denied and were slow to respond to that has eventually span into 11 months without any hope in sight and as such this will be a part of the determining factor come this next election on March 28th as the question remains “Why this long before these progresses were made by the incumbent government to fund and equip the military?
Diversification of the Economy is also a question yet to efficiently been answered, despite the few progress made by the present administration in terms of revamping the Agricultural sector, with the ban on importation of several goods like Rice, Sugar etc. Introduction of various youth and Entrepreneurship programmes like the YouWin, YEAP, NAGROPRENEURS etc. The Claims by the Minister of Agriculture, Akinwumni Adeshina that the re-invention of Fertilizer distribution through the E-Platform to over 40 million farmers, increase of food supply by 21 million metric tons but the question remains how many ordinary Nigerians have benefited from these schemes and how effective is it.
Nigeria has been attributed to be the Number One economy in Africa after the re-basing of the economy but many economists have argued that re-basing the economy differs from economy growth and development which has not necessarily translated in the improvement of the lives of the ordinary citizen through more job employment, increase in the standard of living and prospects for a better future for youths of the society that have now been used as tools of Political violence.
Fears Created by the Elections
On March 28th and April 11th, 2015, Nigerians will be placed with the options of selecting the President, Federal Legislators, Governors and State Assembly members which would either be from the various ruling parties or the opposition parties and with the International Community keeping a watch on the exercise to see if Nigerians can get it right this time around, tensions have been elevated within the country with so many politicians and groups making provocative statements that are capable of heating up the country’s polity, one will be forced to inquire if we were headed for an ELECTION or WAR? This puzzling question arises from the recent events that have occurred within the country, some of which include;
In recent weeks there has been the rise of long queues at petrol filling stations which were initially blamed on the threat of petroleum marketers embarking on a strike action but after assurances by the FG that they will be settled adequately, the queues persist and most recently, the DSS explained that there was no shortage of Petrol but merely Panic buying by consumers who are afraid of the outcome of the election that would hinder the distribution of Petrol and power supply, hence families have been forced to stock up on petroleum products in the event of a long wait for normalcy to return to the economy, this has led to the exploitation of consumers by Petrol stations who have taken an opportunity to hoard petrol and extort money from consumers forcefully to sell fuel to them.
Migration and Fear of Violence
The North which has a common history of political violence has not been left out with tensions arising, there has been a massive emigration of people from the north for the fear of post election violence as witnessed in the 2011 election that led to the death of over 880 people (HRW Report, 2011) and destruction of lives and property. Hence, because of these fears, many business people from the South have returned home, Workers have taken leave of absence from their work places, students have taken compulsory breaks from school all in an attempt to absence their selves from these Flash points zone. On Wednesday 25th March, the Lagos Murtala Muhammed International Airport was shown to be crowded with people reportedly fleeing the country for safety purposes.
Markets closed down
Most recently, there has been the rise of panic buying of food items, perishable goods and household items which are not surprising as Nigerians are preparing for a long time indoors should elections take a different direction that could lead to a suspension of the economy and market activities. Market traders on the other hand have both benefited and record losses from this tension as their stocks are being drained with no immediate supply in sight till after the elections causing them to increase the prices of these commodities leaving the brunt of the suffering to ordinary consumers.
In conclusion, Nigerians must look and should look forward to an election that could be a turning point in the nation’s history but then at what cost would it come? It most certainly shouldn’t come as a result of Human bloodshed, for after the elections, Win or Lose, we should be able to come together and design a road map for ourselves as Nigerians on where we intend to head towards as a nation not as a bunch of broomsticks struggling to stay together as one whole or magnet of the same pole fighting to stay together. We must prove to ourselves first and then to the International community that Nigerians can get it right not for their sake but for the sake of our Country.
#EVER UNITED FOREVER
#ONE NIGERIA, ONE NATION
#GOOD PEOPLE, GREAT NATION
#SAY NO TO VIOLENCE