2023 elections: Giving Nigeria the best is task for all stakeholders
By Ismail Abdulaziz, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Recent debates and public opinion have established the need for the coming administration to, as a matter of urgency, work towards uniting the nation. While that is true, this only posits such a responsibility within the purview of the elected or constituted authority.
The legitimacy and credibility of the leadership that will emerge from the coming elections is a function of how free, fair, credible, and inclusive the electoral process is perceived to be. Hence, ahead of the 2023 General elections, all political actors to demonstrate leadership in ensuring we remain a nation in the face of an “existential election”.
With less than 30 days to the 2023 General Elections, pundits have pointed out many lapses in the way political campaigns are misguiding the electorate from the real issues that should ordinarily form the crust of the matter in the match to a stable democratic transition in the country. It’s time to do away with the campaigns of calumny and the making of unrealistic promises. Candidates need to focus on outlining the plans and suggest how they intend to proffer solutions to some of the challenges confronting us as a nation.
From the councillors, chairmen, state house of assemble members, governors, House of Representatives members, senators and the president, a lot is expected to maintain the much-needed ambience of peace, development, and unity in the country.
Providing facts about issues to the people is paramount in this election, and Nigeria and its people would be better for it. The mundane concept of singing the old song of messianic vision would just not be enough this time around.
The democratic practice of the government of the people, for the people and by the people must be on the front burner of every Nigerian seeking to represent the people.
At a function held in August 2022, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, spoke on the new innovations introduced to ensure a level playing ground for all stakeholders in the 2023 election with the introduction of technology: “Please be assured that these innovations are intended to deepen the Electoral Process in our Country and their optimal performance in the just concluded gubernatorial election in Ekiti and Osun States is an eloquent testimony to their electoral value. We shall only do more to consolidate their deployment in our election. Once again, I wish to assure you that INEC has no preferred party or candidate. We shall only ensure that valid votes count and that the voters decide the winners.”
Such a level of commitment from the commission’s leadership is a welcome development. However, it needs to be cascaded down through the hierarchy to polling officials and security agents responsible for the conduct of elections at the polling unit. While we are leveraging on technology to help mitigate some of the challenges confronting the electoral process, such innovations must be complemented with a high level of professionalism and a strong will to stand by what is right.
Africa and the rest of the world are looking at the outcome of the 2023 general election as a watershed for the continent. The West African Elders Forum (WAEF) stressed the relevance of a free, fair and transparent election in the country at their Pre-Elections Assessment Mission to Nigeria in December 2022. The Elders called on Nigerians to ensure that the 2023 general elections are credible and conducted in a violence-free atmosphere. The forum says this will signal to the rest of the region that democracy has come to stay and discourage the trend of democratic recession in West Africa.
Head of the WAEF Pre-election Mediation Mission and former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, emphasised that the election is of great significance for West Africa and the entire African continent.
“We call on all Nigerians to exercise their rights to civic participation both before and during the coming elections without fear while also respecting the rights of others to do the same.
‘’Our region, West Africa, of late, has experienced some reversal in democratic practice with unconstitutional changes of government in some countries. At the heart of the instability within the sub-region are the issue of disputed elections and citizen disaffection.
“The 2023 general election in Nigeria is crucial not just for Nigeria alone but for West Africa and the African continent. They are the first of three to be held in the region next year. The successful conduct of peaceful, credible, inclusive, free and fair elections here will set a good example for others.
“This will not only send a message that democracy is here to stay in West Africa but will also resuscitate hope at a time when the sub-region is plagued with various challenges. The WAEF will stay engaged and accompany the process before, during and after the general elections until a smooth and peaceful transition is achieved.
Nigeria must rise up to its bidding of being the giant of Africa by not only allowing the people to have a say but must be seen to have allowed the wish of the people to prevail this time around. Nothing less is expected from the lists of expectations of Nigerians, Africans and the world at large.
Nigeria and Nigerians must subscribe to the wise counsel of the elders to chart a new course for the country to show an example that the continent has really come of age in terms of stable democratic rule.
The Elders expressed optimism that the upcoming polls will be an improvement from previous elections. Particularly as they received assurance from President Muhammadu Buhari and all other relevant stakeholders that a secure and free environment and a level playing field would be guaranteed for all citizens and political actors irrespective of political affiliation.
The President particularly assured that come 2023, people would be allowed to vote whomever they want, in whatever party. He further reiterated that his administration would not allow anyone to use money and thugs to intimidate the people.(NAN)
**If used, credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
***This article is with support from Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), a pro-peace and good governance initiative dedicated to preserving and promoting democratic principles as a prerequisite for peace and prosperity in Africa.