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On The March Again!

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Can We Have 'No Victor, No Vanquished'?
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The Insight by Lateef Adewole

All glory and adoration belong to God, that we are here again today in peace, having the opportunity to, once again, come out to exercise our franchise in choosing another set of leaders, who will manage our affairs at state level, despite the tension that has soaked the country since after the presidential election and the declaration of the winner. Three weeks ago, Nigerians, in their multitude, came out to express their choices of who should lead them at the national level, in the elections of our senators, house of representatives members, and in particular, the presidency.

That presidential election will go down as one of the most competitive in the history of our country. The results depict that too. That was why it was so difficult for the top losers to accept because, everyone felt it could have been them. And with the closeness in the figures scored by each candidate, it left bitter taste in the mouth. With the two leading candidates having won in 12 states each, the third having 11 states and FCT, and fourth in 1 state. That was a close call. The winner emerged based on aggregate votes across the country. This gave the candidate of the ruling party APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the presidency. Today, he is the president-elect.

Following his declaration, others disagreed, expectedly. No election loser has ever easily agreed they lost. Even in more advanced democracy, as we saw in the case of Trump versus Biden, in their presidential election in 2020. So, their disagreement was neither new nor surprising. The only concern was the approach they initially took, which could have plunged the country into national crisis if not properly managed. There were schemings to distrupt the peace of the country in the name of protest. But, all eventually died down.

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Those who know better as to how to go about seeking redress, leaders, who claim they love the country and want to serve, called people out to protest the outcome of the election, when the tribunal is there. Had the protest gone out of hand, if highjacked by other people with more sinister objectives different from theirs, they would not have been able to control it. They will all live to regret it if such had happened. At the end, the court gave verdict that they be allowed to access the materials used for the votings and INEC has granted them.

So, there is enough reason to appreciate the peace we are enjoying right now. The consequence of such action is why we are having the second batch of elections today, instead of last Saturday, as previously scheduled. It was too late before INEC could get the court to vary the order it earlier granted, which later permitted them to reconfigure the BVAS machines to be usable for the governorship and state assembly elections.

This was vehemently opposed by the petitioners. I did not know what their intentions were. Don’t they want the subsequent elections to hold or what? Excessive delay could trigger constitutional crisis, based on the minimum number of days that elections should have been held before the day of swearing in. Thank God we dodged another bullet in that.

Today is a very important day. Unfortunately, many citizens do not see it as such. With the federal system of government that we operate, that has the Federal, State and Local Government levels, with the third tier already rendered impotent by most of the state governors, the closer level to the people at the grassroots is the state. The authority at this level is vested in the state governors and the members of the state houses of assembly. They direct and manage the affairs of states, with direct impact on the people.

While all attention is focused on the presidency, instead of the state, is because of the dysfunctional federal system we operate, which is almost like a unitary system, given the enormous power concentrated in the hand of one person; the president. We inherited that from many years of military rule in the country. They also handed over the constitution and this democracy we operate. No wonder the military mentality of our leaders. We have also had the (mis)fortune of having two retired Generals and former military heads of state, “ruled” us for 16 of our 24 years of our democracy since the fourth republic.

This is why the elections at lower levels generate less enthusiasm than that of the presidency, rather than the other way round. In a proper federalism, the three tiers are autonomous and only work in complimentary manners. No one is supposed to lord it over the other, but that is not the case here. The FG acts like “big daddy” to other tiers, dishing out orders and handing out benefits to them like surbordinates, most times. The relationship between State and Local Government is worse. Governors have turned LGs to their play arena. They cripple that level and do as they wish with it. Many will not even conduct local government election for 4 or 8 years. They simply appoint their surrogates as sole administrators, something alien to our constitution.

This happens, all because the LG is put under the state. Where elections take place, they are better called “selections”, as no governor ever conducted free, fair or credible polls at that level. They simply manipulate the State Electoral Commission, head of which they appoint, to carry out some “wuruwuru” elections, and the governor’s surrogates from his party simply win all the seats, including all the councillorship positions. What kind of election has all positions won by the ruling party of the sitting governor? Balderdash. This might be responsible for the lack of interest by the citizens in LG elections across the country.

Drawing from above, the people are then left with choosing the state managers. Since by extension, these are people who determine what gets to them at the local communities. It is therefore critical that Nigerians go out enmass to vote, to elect their preferred candidates as their governors, as well as the state lawmakers.

As we go into today’s elections, we believe that INEC is very prepared. This was the reason given for the postponement in the first place. There are some concerns raised with regards to the previous elections. There were areas where voting materials and or personel arrived late. This forced them to continue to vote till late in the night, contrary to the plan to close accreditation by 2pm. This was a recipe for malpractices by unscrupulous politicians, in collaboration with the election officials in such locations.

It is hoped that all such have been taken care of. Also, the inability of the election result papers to be scanned and transmitted real-time generated serious issue, which almost snowballed into a more complicated crisis. It is still a major basis on which some petitioners have gone to the tribunal. Although, the leadership of INEC has explained what happened. As I write, it was reported that all those results have been uploaded and can be viewed through the IReV portal. We hope that challenge has been addressed too.

However, it is also criminal of desperate politicians who must have engaged hackers to attack INEC server, with the dubious plan to manipulate the outcome of the presidential election in their favour. I saw on Channels Tv on Thursday, where it was reported that the INEC server was attacked over 12 million times during the presidential election. Why? That’s outrageous. What kind of desperation was that? That could inform the non-functioning of the BVAS uploading of the results real-time and people’s ability to view results on IReV. We can see that Nigerians are the problems and enemies of Nigeria.

It won’t be a surprise that those who cry loudest do so because of their failures to achieve their sinister aims. While I also looked forward to that technological innovation brought in by INEC, I didn’t see it as cast in stone. By exigencies, INEC could do whatever is needed to protect the sanctity of the votes and election results. What I had expected the complainants to prove was that the results announced at various stages were not the same as what they got at the polling units, given that all the party agents were expected to have signed them, have copies, which they too, would have forwarded to their party’s situation rooms.

It is such disparity, if any, they should be challenging, instead of the excessive hue and cry about BVAS transmission of results. We hope all these will not be issue in today’s elections. INEC Chairman, Professor Muhammud Yakubu, promised to sanction any erring staff of the commission found to have deliberately sabotaged the performance of BVAS in the last elections. We saw few officials already removed. We hope the staff deploy to the field have been further reoriented, after the last elections. Where there were gaps in their competences, such are expected to have been bridged. Excuses will not be acceptable to Nigerians again.

The security agents deserve commendations on their conducts, substantially, in the last elections. Reasonable peace was maintained in large part of the country. It is not unexpected that there will always be some recalcitrant elements who will forment trouble. The police and other security agents did well. Same and more, is expected of them today as well. This local elections are more competitive and have greater propensity to cause violence. They should be prepared. I listened to the Force PRO, Muyiwa Adejobi, gave assurances to the people. I hope they live up to their responsibilities.

The politicians will always be politicians. Desperation to win is their second name. However, they need to be mindful of their utterances, actions and inactions, with regards to these elections. We saw how actions of some of them almost derailed the presidential election results announcement at the national collation centre, Abuja. And subsequently too. They need to realise that there has to be a country first before they can even dream of realising their personal ambitions. Speaking in manners that could jeopardise the peace of the country is irresponsible and unpatriotic. They should desist from such.

We are going into another round now, all should be mindful of their conducts. Everyone should know that power belongs to God and He gives whoever He pleases. No matter how desperate one can be, it does not guarantee success at the polls. Every candidate is expected to have done their home work, campaigning for months. They should allow the people to choose who they want to lead them, peacefully.

To Nigerians, as earlier mentioned, these state elections are far more important. We should not take them with levity. Whether our presidential candidate won or lost must not deter us from going out enmass to vote today. Some might felt they have achieved what they wanted since their candidate won. Others, whose candidates lost, could feel demoralised. This should not be so. The two stages of election are mutually exclusive. One does not determine the other. So, here is another chance to entrenched our preferred party that won earlier or compensate for our previous loss. No win is immaterial.

Also, we should be circumspect in how we react to many sentimental and emotional negative appeal of politicians. Most of them are contesting, first and foremost, for their personal or selfish interests, not because they love us. They are doing all these to achieve their personal ambitions. We are secondary or tertiary in their consideration. So, no politician is worth fighting, dying or killing for. Otherwise, we should have seen their kids at the forefronts of the battles. But no! So, “e y’ara yin lopolo”.

Let us go out, cast our votes, and return home peacefully, while we wait for the outcomes. Whatever it is, we should accept it as act of God. No one can run faster than their destiny. There will always be another chance at future elections. He who fights and runs, lives to fight another day. May the best candidates win.

May God continue to protect us and guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole
Email: [email protected]
Whatsapp: +2348179512401

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March 18, 2023.

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