By Joni Akpederi
By all accounts and measures, Nigeria’s harried electorate have never had it so good. The outcome of the 2023 Presidential elections, though still heavily disputed in places and now a subject of multiple litigations prove that power really resides with the people. For the first time in Nigeria’s chequered political history, politicians have come to realize the need to really engage and court the electorate rather than rely on blatant vote-buying and ridiculous hand-outs to attain transient power.
There are reports of some Nigerians getting so frustrated and disappointed with the conduct and result of the February 25 Presidential polls that they are considering abandoning their civic duty of voting in subsequent elections, especially the follow-up governorship and state parliamentary polls.
Nothing will spell greater tragedy and doom for Nigeria’s socio-political economic development than election fatigue. It is the very thing Nigeria’s ancient regime of corrupt political elite have spent their lives orchestrating and praying for: a helpless, frustrated, docile, malleable electorate on whom they’ll prey eternally.
In spite of the widespread dissatisfaction with the conduct and results of the February 25 elections, the outcome proved not just to be unprecedented but seismic. Each of the three top contending Presidential candidates won the polls in 12 states of the Federation. While many pundits had anticipated a close race, none expected it to be as tight as it turned out to be. Hitherto, the contest had always been between two big parties around which the nation’s fickle politicians coalesced, since the return to civilian democracy in 1999. The ‘intrusive’ new party, Labour Party, this time round, which had shown promise of causing some upset because of the popularity of its candidate, Peter Obi, proved more “dangerous” than analysts predicted. In fact, the two established parties’ candidates, APC’s Bola Ahmed Tinubu and PDP’s Abubakar Atiku became more fearful of Obi’s challenge than each other as the results tumbled in.
Change, in spite of the elites’ the status quo
The Labour Party and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have commenced separate legal challenges to the Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) declaration of victory for the ruling APC, alleging a fatally flawed process and massive fraud. The lawsuits, however, do not obscure the deep changes in the political landscape. The National Assembly, once completely dominated by the APC and the PDP will be welcoming members from the Labour Party and other hitherto unrepresented parties in the next dispensation.
Commentators and analysts who once brushed off candidates and parties for having no “structures” are eating their words. Many did not see the revolution playing out right before their eyes. They remained stuck in the supremacy of old parties that were completely out of tune with the youth bulge and their heightened political awareness, largely helped by social media. Things were also being shaped by the utter failure of the ruling APC, like the PDP before it to address the myriad problems of insecurity and wobbly economy despite much propaganda and ineffectual posturing as a progressive party. Worse, the current administration was completely lost when it came to nation building and unifying Nigeria’s disparate sub-nationalities.
In hindsight, it is a marvel that many of the old political actors are still walking the political turf today. Many have lost so much goodwill that it is difficult not to suspect they have remained in contention due to one electoral fraud or another. The electorate, powered by the youth, has jettisoned the old, unfruitful party loyalty model for supporting credible candidates with new ideas and perceived commitment to ridding the polity of rampant, systemic corruption and nepotism.
This is why the electorate must keep the momentum going by going to he polls even in larger numbers to dispatch the old, corrupt, inept politicians and their accomplice and willing tools. The upcoming governorship and States Assembly elections are as important, if not more crucial than the Presidential polls in the grand scheme of things going forward.
The rotten, intolerable governance in the states must be dealt the same blow as the electorate delivered at the Presidential elections. It is time to break the stranglehold of power-hugging Mafia governments in many states where one dominant party has held away by sheer fraud and coercion since 1999 to the detriment of their communities and indigenes.
The formula seems to be the sacking of hopelessly incompetent incumbents and the enthronement of rival, credible candidates to send clear warnings to Nigeria’s band of sit-tight, entitled political jobbers who think they can run their states as badly as they wish without consequences for eternity, using the very same resources in their custody.
Voters are now seeking out untainted, credible candidates who can be entrusted with the ship and coffers of state and not impersonal, calcified political parties latched together just for the dubious purpose of hanging on to power indefinitely.
The days of tying the political fate of a state to one party and identifying it with its floaters, no matter how incompetent or corrupt, are over!
Electorate of all Nigerian states, vote!