On Saturday, February 16 this year Nigerians will go to polls to decide the future and destiny of their country by casting their votes for leaders that will pilot the affairs of their country for the next four years, which is very important in some quarters and risky in others.
It is very important because government constitutes almost everything. Our ability to bring into the system good governance, by choosing the right leaders, affects decisions made regarding our hospitals, schools, economy, markets, among others; we either upgrade our healthcare system or truncate it by the political decisions we make. Good roads come with it and security improves based on the political choices we make.
It is risky because politics is a game of number. It may dismiss even well-thought views for stupid ones as long as the number matters, especially at this moment when a larger chunk of Nigerians are unemployed, uneducated and hungry.
This may, perhaps, be the reason Nigerians are suffering despite two decades of uninterrupted democracy. At last, indeed, democracy may cater, as one veteran journalist said, for itself even if not for Nigerians.
As good citizens, we all have responsibilities to be carried out. Part of those responsibilities and rights is not only to cast our votes freely and at our discretion, but also to opt for good candidates no matter how tedious that may be.
To naive observers, as Nigerians go to polls on the said date, the much-awaited day, the moment will not be more than a convergence of voters, polling units, ballot papers and the registered parties from which the winner will surely emerge and the loser, as usual, will go to court to challenge the ‘other’s’ victory. Then the whole country moves back to the familiar chains of poverty and hopelessness. God forbids.
Conversely, to many consciously optimistic observers, who wholeheartedly have been following the events as they unfold, that moment will be a turning point in the history of this great nation, especially at this time when the nation is ailing from exaggeratedly all forms of socio-economic problems: kidnappings here and banditry there; political analysts view that as a prelude to the 2019 elections.
Now, it is almost four years since the 2015 general elections that saw President Buhari emerge as the winner, after battling one of his fiercest political battles. We all took a sigh of relief having narrowly escaped the foreboding trouble then.
Then, many Nigerians, terrified by the “international community’s” bizarre prediction of Nigeria’s break up at the end of 2015, were pessimistic that they thought that the juncture would be an end to that age-old marriage that makes up what we call Nigeria today, especially as the different ethnic nationalities aim at jugulars of one another. Perhaps because they were set up, and still are being set off, against one another by some “selfish” politicians.
All praise is due to the Almighty God that we have overcome that bottleneck despite the fears, the threats and the ill-intention predictions – thanks to the ex-Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, too, for conceding.
However, here we are, once again, in this tension-soaked period. Whosoever loves this country must be brooding of a beleaguered crossroad like this. The tension still brews. The odious smell of the looming electoral violence, starting from the 2019 party campaign rallies, hangs in the air.
To back up this argument, on January, as reported by many media houses, three journalists were shot while covering a political rally in Lagos. According to some report, the journalists were caught in crossfire after a gun fight broke out between suspected warring factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).
Another violent incident as reported by the Daily Trust of February 12, 2019, 50 suspected political thugs were paraded by the Kano State command of the Nigerian police on alleged attacks on citizens during the Peoples Democratic Party presidential campaign rally at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano.
According to the commands spokesperson, DSP Haruna Abdullahi the suspected thugs were arrested with weapons during the rally and many of them attacked passersby, robbing them of their valuable belongings, especially money and cell phones.
it is not surprising that during an interview, the newly posted Kano State Commissioner of Police, Muhammad Wakili told me on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 that this week alone about 300 suspected political thugs had been arrested within two days in the state.
It is an understatement to say that these savage attacks have a connection with a political rally in general and is aided by drug abuse, is a major threat to democracy and the peaceful atmosphere the citizens are enjoying.
To go straight into the issue this article aims to discuss, although it is not its duty to tell Nigerians whom to or not to vote between the two major contenders, Nigeria is Africas superpower and the continents top oil producer.
Over eight million Nigerians, as reported by Aljazeera, are set to vote on February 16 polls to elect their next president and members of the country’s National Assembly.
On March 2, 2019, governors and members state Houses of Assembly will be elected. This should be discussed in a different article as this one gives a pride of place to the 2019 presidential election.
In the same vein, 91 political parties are participating in the forthcoming 2019 general elections, as registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); but the two contenders are political heavyweights from the northern part of the country: the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This close contest between the two septuagenarians, Muhammadu Buhari 76, and Atiku Abubakar 72, as argued by many political pundits will be the fiercest in the history of Nigeria’s politics.
While President Buhari, armed with “Next Level” – a slogan that signifies his attempt at continuing with the social and economic programmes he has embarked upon, is working round the clock to maintain his seat, while Atiku Abubakar has vowed to get the country “work” again by reviving the economy of the country after unseating the incumbent.
To President Buhari, in the last three years and six months his administration has reversed that downward slide. He said:
A victory for us as a party is a victory for all well meaning Nigerians, who are committed to CHANGE from an inglorious past; where those in positions of public trust willfully took for themselves what belongs to us all; where the security of our citizens was second place to their acquisition of unwholesome wealth; where our economic growth was sacrificed for the fleeting ease of import dependency.
On the other hand, with Changing the Change agenda, the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has promised to run a responsive government, change the narrative of security challenges and eradicate poverty.
In his acceptance speech at the PDPs National Convention, he said: We have enumerated the challenges facing the country. It is now our role to find solution to the challenges. By the time we start campaign against the clueless administration of APC Nigerians will vote for us.
All in mind, we have a duty to perform; as we go to polls on Sunday, we should remember that our future, especially that of our children, more or less depend on the political decision we are going to take. This shot, based on the decision we make, will be a make-or-break affair for us.
AbdulHamid is on the staff of The Triumph; he can be reached at [email protected]