Analysis – 10th House of Reps: Again, APC Zoning Arrangement Faces Doom
By Ubong Ukpong
For players and watchers of unfolding political events around the 10th House of Representatives Speakership, it would be doomsday for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), daring to thwart the lifetime ambition of Rt Hon Aliyu Mukhtar Betara, to occupy that exalted office of Mr Speaker, come June 13.
Once beaten, twice shy, it is often said, but it appears that the APC would reinvent the expression this time to read, twice beaten but would never be shy, as a likely reenactment of the 8th Assembly’s speakership history is underway in 10th Assembly, when Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara revolted against the APC’s zoning arrangements and became Speaker with the support of opposition.
It is certain that the APC has not learnt from its troubles of 2015, when it meddled with the processes of electing leadership for the 8th House of Representatives as it is back to the trenches with the irrevocable ambition of Mukhtar Betara, also from the North East with Dogara and played a key role in the revolution of Dogara’s emergence as Speaker.
The John Oyegun’s -led National Working Committee (NWC), had insisted on Femi Gbajabiamila against the wishes of majority of Members-elect, both from the ruling and minority parties, who went to the chamber and produced Rt. Hon Yakubu Dogara as their leader, but the party seems to have forgotten this so soon.
That came at a time, when the ruling APC had a comfortable number in the House to execute its agenda, but the political calculations left it stranded as it was caught in its own web.
Presently, for the 10th House, the ruling APC is bereft of the number as the opposition parties are in the greater majority, having the comfortable number to even produce the Speaker and Deputy, unstopped, if they so desire.
Unlike in the 9th House, where the APC had a field day that brought Rt Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, with so much ease, the same would never be said of the forthcoming 10th House, which the incumbent Speaker, Gbajabiamila, should know and properly advise his party.
It is not clear if Gbajabiamila can boast of securing the cooperation of the greater majority in opposition for his party to achieve its endorsement, given his present state of relationship with the opposition.
Nigerians would be shocked to the marrow if this happens, because the opposition as it stands today are not smiling at all with the ruling APC, given the mirage of issues arising from the just concluded 2023 general elections, where the oppositions are in court against the APC, seeking cancellation of the election allegedly manipulated by the APC-led federal government of President Muhammadu Bihari.
Now the opposition caucuses comprising the People’s Democratic party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), New Nigerian People’s Party (NNPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Social Democratic party (SDP), Young Progressives Party (YPP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), have formed a united front ahead of the inauguration and would doubtlessly not favour the APC NWC’s endorsement, which can never represent their interests in government.
The greater majority as they are called, is now the beautiful bride here and should they accept to defer to APC on this matter, they would definitely settle for a candidate of their choice and likemind, with proven integrity, compassion, generosity and firmness amongst other good qualities and certainly, not settle for rubber stamps as Speaker and Deputy.
The APC NWC have rebuffed all entreaties and anointed Tajudeen Abbas and Benjamin Kalu, as preferred candidates for office of the Speaker and Deputy respectively, which has raised uproars, as members question their competence and independence.
From a microscopic view, majority of Members-Elect, both of the ruling and opposition parties, do not appreciate these characters, as much as they welcome the aspiration of Rt Hon Aliyu Mukhtar Betara.
Betara seems to possess the good qualities Members-Elect seek in their leader, being a compassionate and empathic fellow, whom they have closely watched, especially since the 8th and 9th Assembly, to be a courageous, firm, forthright and kindhearted fellow.
Little wonder, that on Monday May 8, when he declared his intention, the APC national secretariat caught cold and hurriedly released a statement announcing their anointed candidates.
Equally, the entire Central Business District roads leading to Transcorp Hilton, witnessed traffic lockdown because of crowds of dignitaries that attended Betara’s official declaration at the Transcorp Hilton.
Betara was not the first contestant to officially declare. Several others had earlier declared without so much waves, but on Betara’s day, even other contestants, including those anointed by the APC NWC, were sighted around the prism of Lagos-Osun hall of Transcorp Hilton, in solidarity with his aspiration.
His declaration united all contestants including the incumbent Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, Majority Leader Alhassan Ado Doguwa, against the party’s endorsement, as they see it as an insult on their collective intelligence and capability.
Imagine the party abandoning the likes of Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Chairman Appropriation, Chairman Defence and other key officers and very ranking members, who have stood for the party these years in the House, to forward other names who are no match to them in any way, to become their leaders! These candidates are spoilt for war with their party.
There is no doubt that all these candidates owe Betara some forms of appreciation, as each of them had some good words to say about him and how much of gratitudes they also owe him given his supports to them at different times.
What would play out in coming days will be pushing for a consensus candidate by all these candidates and it is a known fact that they would prefer Rt Hon Betara, to lead them, given his track records in the House, especially as Appropriation Committee Chairman.
For the incumbent Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, these members are not happy with him, because they feel stabbed on the back, by daring not to allow free contest by members, but recommended the endorsed persons as well as allegedly plotting to amend House rules to sabotage their ambitions.
Members like Mohammed Gudaji kazaure, see Betara as a king maker, whom he really is, having played key roles in the emergence of Yakubu Dogara in 2015 and humbly gave up his ambition and brought Gbajabiamila in 2019.
Betara, who has performed wonderfully well in the House, may not have so much time again in the House, which is why the APC should look his direction and allow him to achieve his lifetime ambition just as done to others too, for what is God for the goose is good for the gander. This is the only thing that would engender peace in the party.
After all, in the APC, no one can pretend that it is not about lifetime ambition, it is, and almost all about it. The President Muhammadu Bihari got the ticket, it was about his lifetime ambition, Femi Gbajabiamila became Speaker, having served in the House sincere 1999 as Minority Leader, and when Dogara stripped him of his chance to become Speaker, he became Majority Leader and in 2019 insisted on becoming Speaker, which made the party to plead with Betara on his behalf, leading to his emergence to achieve this lifetime ambition.
Even for the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, becoming Nigeria’s President is his lifetime ambition, that was why everything possible was done to ensure his emergence.
Therefore,, Rt Hon Aliyu Mukhtar Betara also has his lifetime ambition to be Speaker and it is his constitutional right and obligation which he seeks to fulfill.
Those in the APC that are uncomfortable with his ambition should pause and ponder, whether the Nigerian people accept or reject Betara.
They can only prove this by not interfering in the election processes of the House so that the Representatives of the Nigerian people, both from majority and minority parties could vote on June 13, 2023, to elect the Speaker for the Nigerian people’s parliament.
Many Nigerians and party faithful, just like Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state, are sad about this interference by the party, to score their political points.
Akeredolu has faulted the arguments being canvassed by some traducers that the North East geopolitical zone, where Betara hails from, cannot produce the Speaker for the 10th House of Representatives.
Such proponents were viewed to have failed to acknowledge the fact that the current Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila who is from the South West geopolitical zone emerged as Speaker despite the fact that the incumbent Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo also hailed from the same South West region.
Tinubu’s Bitter Pills, Nigeria and the Ides of May 29
By Eddy Ochigbo
The maxim that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies – only permanent interests – was re-enforced on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 in Port Harcourt the Rivers state capital, at the inauguration of Rumuokwuta/Rumuola Flyover Bridge, when a smiling president-elect, Bola Amed Tinubu sat side by side with out-going governor of the state, Nyesome Wike.
Wike, a top notcher of the People’s Democratic Party and at some point widely acclaimed to be the sole financier of the PDP – the leading opposition party – is now hobnobbing and dancing with the leader of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).The question on the lips of bewildered Nigerians is: has Wike, who once described the APC as cancerous, cross-carpeted to the APC? Whether or not Wike’s political game plan would fetch him his heart desire in the murky waters of the current political dispensation remains to be seen. But Wike’s present romance with APC is a matter for another day.
The bone of contention in this piece is the social contract between president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is expected to take to the turf as President Buhari’s successor come May 29, 2023. And given the enormous and gargantuan tasks before the incoming administration to restore the confidence of Nigerians by retrieving the country from the woods, following the damage done by the outgoing administration, Tinubu’s victory is extremely unenviable.
With a rising debt stock which has increasingly become a huge burden on Nigeria in the face of dwindling revenue and the unsustainable subsidy payments, the incoming administration must adopt measures to increase the country’s revenue, tackle corruption and perhaps borrow from cheaper sources to cushion Nigeria’s debt portfolio.
Recent statistics reveal poor performance and mounting government costs, making it evident that Nigeria is going through unprecedented debt crisis. Therefore, apart from other daunting challenges bedeviling the country, the huge debt remains the biggest task before the incoming government. The Buhari administration which came with the mantra of fighting corruption, reviving the economy and fighting insecurity, unfortunately, did the opposite, taking the country down the drain into bankruptcy.
The results of this negative trend is that the country is now home to about 133 million multidimensionally poor people, 37.7per cent of the citizens are unemployed as at 2022. This is estimated to rise further to 40.6 per cent in 2023, with nearly 25 million Nigerians said to be at risk of hunger between June and August of 2023. This is compounded by the rising public debt of N46.25 trillion and according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) by the time the incoming administration is sworn-in, a whooping N77 trillion debt will be awaiting it.
Worse still, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that debt servicing may gulp 100 per cent of the federal government’s revenue by 2026 if the government fails to implement adequate measures to improve revenue generation and provide critical infrastructure and amenities like healthcare services, education, power, roads and security, otherwise revenue will keep shrinking.
Another regrettable trend, is Nigeria’s fraudulent leadership recruitment process, the anti-climax of which was the 2023 general elections especially the Adamawa gubernatorial supplementary election. There is no better word to describe the treasonable action of the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Hudu Yunusa Ari, accompanied by senior security officers, and the unfortunate and dramatic acceptance speech by the candidate of the All Progressive Congress APC, Senator Aisha Dahiru Binani, other than a failed civilian coup d’etat. Outside the nagging varied manifestation of insecurity across the country, this can be ranked among the top threats to our wobbling democracy since the beginning of the fourth republic.
This is a coup d’etat for the single reason that a group of non-state and state actors conspired to go against section 1, sub-section 2, of the 1999 Constitution and the provision of the 2022 Election Act to capture power with the cover of high ranking security officers. To give this in proper context, it is a coup d’etat – “a seizure and removal of a government and its powers”. Typically, it is an illegal seizure of power by a political faction.
This reminds us of the dark days of our political history, which was littered with both successful and failed military coup d’etat, not without the active connivance of civilian politicians and foreign backers. The first coup d’etat in Nigeria was in January, 1966, followed by a counter coup in July 1966, others were in 1975, 1983, 1985 and 1993. In between there were two failed coups in 1976 and 1990 and a number of high profile serving and former military officers at different times were arrested and imprisoned for alleged coup plotting. To this end, Nigeria is yet to recover from the post traumatic impact of the coup d’etas and the resultant authoritarian rule that followed.
The difference this time around is that the failed coup d’etat in the supplementary gubernatorial elections in Adamawa was led by civil politicians with the backing of uniform men. This goes to show that our politicians have learnt a lot in the art and science of coup d’etat from their military friends. Except for the unpretentious way the machiavellian drama in Adamawa played out, it is safe to say that since the return of democracy, the politicians have been carrying out coup de tats through rigging. They have always employed extra-legal means to usurp the electorate’s right of choice and mandate by conniving with electoral and security officials and using violence, vote-buying, ballot box snatching and stuffing among others.
The inordinate ambition of many of politicians has turned elections into a do or die affair. They have instituted a system which has made elections a zerosome game, with the winner taking all, while the loser is left to scavenge till the next election. Greedy politicians have reduced governance to personal interest rather than public service. And as long as governance remains a private enterprise for primitive accumulation of wealth and dividends only reaped by families, friends, aides and associates to the detriment of the mandate givers, so long will the country continue to grope in the dark.This has unfortunately provided the motivation for heightened desperation to capture power at all cost, including killing innocent persons.
In recognition that the process that brought many of them to office lack legitimacy, they feel no obligation to consult or be accountable to the electorate in the governance process. No wonder, we have a lot of wealthy men without any productive enterprise contributing to the economy, except that they serve as fronts to elected and appointed public officials in siphoning public funds mostly through inflated contracts, backdoor deals and money laundering.
The embattled REC who plotted a failed coup in Adamawa, could not have attempted to go against the constitution arrogantly without the backing from above as senior security officers accompanied him to the scene, thereby making mockery of the legacy of those who sacrificed their lives for the enthronement of democracy in the country. Even now, it is not enough to arrest the REC, but to demonstrate to Nigerians that the failed coup d’etat was not an elite conspiracy by actors in government. Backers of such show of shame must be immediately fished out and prosecuted.
It is commendable that the incumbent governor and Governor-elect, of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, has publicly stated that he will push for the prosecution of the REC, since the foiled coup happened under his jurisdiction. However, this must go beyond political rhetorics. This heinous crime against the Nigerian people and assault on the constitution should not be swept under the carpet, like many others before it.
Nigerians must realize that there is a correlation between how a leader emerges and the quality or otherwise of governance he or she will deliver. A leader that usurps the people’s mandate will see himself as an emperor that the people should serve. Introduction of more technology, reforms or amendment of the Electoral Act will not be enough to sanitize our electoral process. Therefore, declaring election rigging a treasonable felony will be a major deterrent to desperate politicians.
Equally important is the need to drastically reduce the cost of governance, improve fiscal transparency and accountability as well as public monitoring of the procurement process. This will remove the incentive that feeds the desperation for the political elite to capture power.
Given Nigeria’s current woes and with barely a month to the inauguration of a new administration, a good number of Nigerians and keen watchers have expressed apprehension about what lies ahead. These fears owe much to the troubling economic crisis facing the country, exacerbated by high rate of unemployment and rising cost of living.
Yet, the planned removal of fuel subsidy looms large. However, supporters and sympathizers of the president-elect argue that there is nothing to fear because according to them, the President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu possesses the magic wand to turn things around, given his antecedents in Lagos as a two-term governor. Posterity would indeed hold this man of the moment, Tinubu, in high esteem if he reverses the dwindling fortunes of Nigeria and give the suffering masses a renewed hope and a meaning.
Fallout of Party Primaries: Bad Omen for Kogi Ahead of Governorship Election
By Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
There is no doubt that political party primary elections in any democratic setting is the number one certificate with which to be used as indices in projecting expectations for the success or failure of candidates of various parties at the general polls.
Party primaries if not well handled in terms of ensuring free, fair and credible exercise could spell doom for a nation or state as the case may be in its dream to excel in the provision of democracy dividends and sound governance.
Aspirants into political positions such as presidential, governorship, national and state assemblies as well as chairmanship and counsellorship, see party primary elections as the most important hurdles to cross in realization of their ambitions.
Also they see it as a do or die affairs which instigate them into unhealthy intrigues and plots such as seeking for god-fatherism, use of violence, intimidation, vote buying and the rest of the odds and the ugly to have their way in emerging candidates of their respective parties for the general elections.
In this piece, Our Correspondent, tries to examine the just concluded Kogi governorship primaries ahead of the November 11 general polls and it’s likely impacts on the entire democratic process in Kogi state.
Political watchers believe that elections are preceded by activities of politicians in the areas of campaign, realignment in the political scheme of things, subterfuge and intrigues, among other strategies, to win.’
From the onset of the race to the exalted Lugard House, Kogi Governor’s Office, Lokoja on April 11 with primary elections, various political party loyalists had begun ploy to ensure that their respective political party remains relevant.
Observers of the game notes that the primaries and the results had left much to be desired by which stakeholders could identify the good and the bad, sides of whatever roles they played in the primaries.
Lugard House, Kogi Governor’s Office, Lokoja, will be vacant on January 27, 2024 and Gov. Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will have completed the eight-year tenure as the state governor.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has done the needful, designing a time table for the race.
According to the timetable, there was a deadline of April 17 for all the political parties to produce their respective candidates for the Nov. 11 governorship election.
The exercise was also organised and concluded within just a week by all the interested political parties but not without the good, the bad and the ugly sides.
The political parties that participated were APC, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Action Alliance (AA), Labour Party (LP), Action Democratic Congress ADC, Young Progressives Party (YPP) New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) and People’s Redemption Party.
But while the primary election exercises of AA, NNPP, YPP and PRP went smoothly, peaceful and successful, those of APC, PDP, ADC and LP did not go as expected.
An entrepreneur, Mr Olayinka Braimoh picked AA ticket, a prominent politician, Alhaji Mubarak Musa got the NNPP ticket, Dr Abdullah Bayawo sailed through to be the flag bearer of PRP while Dr Samson Omale, an active party members picked YPP’s ticket in the state.
The ADC and LP had parallel primary elections while APC and PDP, on the other hand, had other candidates disagreeing and contesting the results of the primaries, creating a threat to the unity of the members in both parties.
For instance, in PDP, the former deputy governor of the state, Mr Sunday Awoniyi challenged the emergence of Dino Melaye as candidate of the party and in APC, Alhaji Ahmed Usman-Ododo, the state Auditor-General for Local Government, is opposed by Mr Muritala Yakubu-Ajaka, Mr Sani Ohiere and Sen. Smart Adeyemi, claiming that there was no primary election on April 11.
Worse still is two members of APC have filed a case before an Abuja Federal High Court challenging the emergence of Ododo as candidate of the party for the Nov. 11 governorship election.
Mr Realwan Okpanachi and Yahaya Seidu-Nuhu in an originating summons filed by their counsel, Mr Promise Ogbodu, sued six of the contestants as first to sixth defendants.
They joined the APC and INEC defendants for what they described as violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The first to sixth respondents are Abdulkareem Jamiu (Chief of Staff), Jibril Momoh (Account-General), Yakubu Okala (Auditor-General), Asiwaju Idris (Commissioner for Finance), Salami Ozigi (Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs) and Ahmed Usman-Ododo (Auditor-General for Local Government Areas).
They prayed the court to declare that the seventh respondent — APC — cannot validly nominate any of the first to sixth respondents as its candidate for the governorship election.
In Labour Party, two factions held separately primaries, producing two candidates.
Shortly before Dr Ayo Olorunfemi-led LP governorship primary election committee could declare the results of the election there were several gun shots that sent everyone at the venue away.
The story is not different in ADC which had produced two candidates — Leke Abejide and Dele Bello-Williams by direct and indirect primaries respectively.
Observers express concern that the agenda of these political parties that have been in controversy in the conduct of party primaries might have been compromised.
However, they advise that public office holders should be determined to discharge their responsibilities effectively irrespective of the prior intrigues and differences in their interests.
According to them, governance requires leaders who are courageous and disciplined to provide solutions to the country’s challenges.
All in all, a critic, Prof. Afolabi Aribigbola of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo, believe that the obvious expectations of Nigerians is primary elections outcomes that will produce good and credible candidates that will be committed to development.
When Politics overwhelms Governance
By Eddy Ochigbo
It is most unfortunate that most politicians in Nigeria knowingly or unknowingly disregard the distinction between politics and governance. This trend is exacerbated by the over centralization of financial and political power in the presidency, with absolute powers to distribute and redistribute resources among regional interests, cronies and relatives, thereby reducing the system to a government of the privileged few, by the privileged few for the privileged few; totally undermining the principles and ethos of democracy.
Keen watchers strongly believe that the political uncertainty in Nigeria today has everything to do with uneven distribution of resources.Such a skewed system or arrangement undermines governance – the fulcrum of democracy. When politics takes centre stage even after electioneering and elections; when every policy made is seen through the prism of political maneuvers, structural barriers to democratization and good governance rear their ugly heads and the masses who should take ownership of the system become the unfortunate victims. This is unacceptable.
It was U.S President, Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg address of November 19, 1863, who defined democracy as “a government of the people by the people and for the people”. This means that governance or government should be structured around conscious and prudent management of public resources for the overall benefit of the citizenry, not just for the political elite. No administration can matter-of-factly, make the desired headway without good governance – the pivotal to the development process – because governance begets human and infrastructure development.
Whereas governance is rapidly taking a much wider meaning and no longer restricted to rule or administration, Nigerian politicians place little or no premium on what constitutes governance, let alone good governance. Since political power is ultimately exercised in the manner that politicians desire, certain principles must be followed, in order to gauge certain standards and norms. Such judgment should be based on several criteria viz: participation of citizens, upholding the rule of law, transparency of the system, responsiveness of the authority, consensus oriented policy, equity and inclusiveness, accountability and strategic vision of the authority, as the case may be.
To say that there is palpable anxiety in the country as the May 29, 2023 handover date beckons, is an understatement, because Nigerians are eager to see whether or not the in-coming administration has something different to offer. Out- going President, Muhammadu Buhari has been mouthing his anxiety to handover to the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The bells are tolling. Opposition is livid, challenging the results of the election. And the questions on the lips of Nigerians are: are these political gladiators jostling to occupy political offices doing so to genuinely offer themselves for selfless service or fighting for their turn to have access to the public till and further increase the misery of Nigeria’s urban and rural poor, whose number according to the National Bureau of Statistics is fast increasing by the day.
The just concluded 2023 general elections will go down in history for many reasons as the most intensely contested. The 2022 amendment of the Electoral Act heightened expectations with the introduction of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System BVAS and INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal, which sought to improve transparency and credibility of the process.
This innovation excited especially young people who not only amplified their voices but mobilized, organized and engaged their peers to participate in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise. Evidently, at the end of the exercise about 39% of newly registered voters were between 18 and 35 years old.
These youths alongside other despondent Nigerians that have been excluded from the political and economic institutions defied the old power structures to champion a third force. The journey, which demonstrate the political maturing process, started with agitations on social media and later found expression in the #EndSARS protest, metamorphosing into a full fledged political movement – popularly known as the Obedient Movement.
The final results declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and those being disputed, demonstrate the impact this political movement had and its coming of age as a third power force which has birthed a critical mass of politically conscious citizens.
Hopefully, this energy will now be channeled into more effective participation in governance process, which has been the missing link in ensuring good governance in Nigeria. More so, the campaign period leading to the elections became the most issues- based campaign, compared to previous elections.
The electorate witnessed candidates make public their blueprints, appeared on different media platforms, debates, town-hall meetings as well as organize their own stakeholders engagements fora. Some flew to as far as Chattam House in the U.K. to speak to the global community on their plans. Issues ranging from character, track-records, security, economy, debt sustainability, education, health, climate change, unemployment, poverty among others were discussed by the candidates.
Despite these positives, the election was marred by the politics of divide and rule, with religion, ethnicity and region having a huge influence on the outcome. So much energy was expended during the campaigns on the Muslim-Muslim ticket adopted by the All Progressive Congress (APC), the candidate of the Labour Party was put on the spotlight for using the Church and Igbo sentiments to campaign, while the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was put on the spot for championing ethnic sentiments in the Northern States.
The introduction of technology with improvement in election transparency, voter suppression and vote-buying became prominent. So also was the alleged inducement of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and adhoc staff as well as security agents. The inability of INEC to upload real time the results as promised, fed into public perception of possible compromise by the election management body.
It is sad that despite 24 years of return to democratic rule, the country still depends on the courts to decide our elections. This has also made our courts susceptible to being dragged into partisan politics. Now that the 2023 general elections will largely be determined by the courts, all eyes are on the judiciary. Out of desperation for power, the vested interests in the power game are ready to compromise any institution to realize their inordinate ambition.
This brings to the fore the need to make governance less attractive for the corrupt and power mongers among us. The zerosome way we play the game of politics is as a result of the overnight accumulation of wealth and aggregation of power that comes with winning elections. The goal for most of those contesting for elective office is not service to the people but access to the national cake and personal ego.
These contestants take advantage of the vulnerability and gullibly of Nigerians, in terms of poverty and ethno-religious sentiments, to buy and bully their way into office without anything to offer outside the propaganda that brought them in. They spend the next four to eight years worsening the living standard of Nigerians, while they enrich themselves, their families, friends, loyalists, aides and associates.
To check these dangerous trend that has almost brought us to the precipice, citizens must not be discouraged by the election outcome but channel their enthusiasm and energy in engaging and demanding for accountability from the new administration. This is more so because we are not in good stead right now with our debt currently at about N44 trillion, about 133 million Nigerians gripped by multidimensional poverty, unemployment rate almost 37% among other negative indices.
More importantly, the social contract as represented by the blueprint of the winner should be the yardstick for measuring the administration and holding it accountable. The citizens must go beyond complaining in their homes and criticizing the government on social media. They must be intentional in active participation in how budgets are formulated, contracts are carried-out, public services are delivered and how government accounts for public funds.
The 2023 general election despite its imperfections should be seen as a motivation and springboard to ensure that government institutions are strengthened through reforms that enhance transparency, citizens’ engagement, accountability, responsiveness and quality of service delivery. This is the way we can make government and governance less attractive because politicians would know it is not going to be business as usual.
Furthermore, the election attracted the interests of first time voters and also persons who had earlier lost confidence in the electoral process and system in Nigeria. The conduct of the Osun elections which had the state jubilating over what was considered as transparent and credible, may have invoked this new level of interest the 2023 elections attracted. The process however began to witness some downsides from voter registration, issuance of permanent voter cards. There were complains across the country about registered voters’ inability to collect their voter cards because they were unprinted, or not available even at the local government offices of INEC. This did not however elicit the kind of response that greeted earlier efforts to exclude some citizens enrollment into the electorate register.
Despite the electoral reforms, there are doubts in the minds of the citizenry over the legitimacy or otherwise of some politicians who have been elected, as popular opinion seems to suggest. But then, that is a matter of conjecture because it depends on the side of the coin one belongs. So as winners celebrate their victory, it would be worthwhile for losers to demonstrate some spirit of sportsmanship so as to strengthen the country’s democracy, which in all honesty, is no longer nascent.
In the final analysis, the powers-that-be must bear in mind that good governance cannot thrive without the enthronement of a people-oriented administration. Section 14(2) of Nigeria’s constitution 1999 as amended stipulates “that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”. And no government can succeed in providing welfare for the people without good governance; accountable management of resources; transparency; and deliberate policy framework for economic development.
It must be emphasized that accountability, effective and efficient government cannot be attained without transparency and the rule of law. This also means that sufficient information must flow freely, backed by feedback mechanisms to consummate the social contract between the leaders and the led.
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