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2023 general elections and imperative of electronic polls

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IN SPITE of the gloomy state of the country, the federal government should bend backwards to midwife electronic voting 2023. Security agencies should live up to their billings to trace the source and spring of the felons that are responsible for destroying the accouterments of the beacons of democracy which resides with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). 

Ever ready to support Nigeria to join the advanced countries of the world, the European Union [EU], in its elation on Buhari’s re-election in 2019, said: “We look forward to your leadership in strengthening democracy and uniting the country in line with the principles and spirit of the 2019 Abuja Peace Accord, and EU is willing to work with your government to follow up on the recommendations of our Election Observation Mission.

  “The European Union also reiterates Nigeria’s important position in world affairs and the union especially. What happens in Nigeria matters to the rest of the world including Europe. Your commitment to an inclusive government offers an opportunity to take Nigeria forward in a way that meets your objectives of strengthening the economy, fighting corruption and improving security”.

  The solemn exhortation from this strategic world body resonates with the gargantuan wishes of Nigerians from all the ethno-religious groupings and it behooves the president to take stock of his journey so far with a view to making amends like appreciating the value of all-inclusive government, particularly getting people from the Southeast Geopolitical Zone in the security meetings and other very strategic MDAs.

  A national daily in its timely advice to the re-elected president offered a tinge of caution while congratulating him by saying: ”No doubt, many Nigerians had reservations about our president continuing in office after his first term. But, a greater number of our compatriots preferred his continuing for another four years. And this is a majoritarian plebiscite, and Nigerians have spoken. The President has thus earned a renewed mandate for more four years”.

  It has become apposite to advice the president to reappraise his stand on the clarion calls for the restructuring of the obviously lopsided federation. Next is to sign the new Electoral Bill which has been passed by the National Assembly and waiting for his assent. Good governance really starts from reformed electoral system that with electronic voting.

  Nigerians are expectant for the 2023 general elections without the woeful tales of ballot box snatching. If the electronic voting is put in place, there will be no need for constituting election tribunals where the judges apparently compromise their integrity and soiling their exalted reputation. If the shenanigans surrounding the conclusion of the bill and signing of it by the president, then it means that the country is not yet ready to join the international community in fostering democratic ethos and ideals; and that smacks of act of imbecility on the part of the political leaders in Nigeria.

  Expressing disappointment on the unexpected delay in effecting electronic polls, columnist Ralph Egbu said: “Issues about general elections in any country is a very serious matter. Mass participation is at the heart of any democracy and election is the crux of mass participation. Elections establish the sovereignty of the people. It is the tangible sign that the people are masters while political players are the servants. In a true democracy, it is abnormal to postpone elections. That it happened in the past is no excuse or right precedent that it should happen again, especially under a correctional regime such as we claim to have. It is stupidity to deliberately make mistakes and yet claim to be learning every year…”

    For one to say that the imperative of according top priority to reform the electoral system should constitute a recurring headache to Buhari, is to emphasise the crucial importance of the issue to Nigerians who might have cause to distance themselves from future polls. Columnist Ray Ekpu was frank, forthright as well as caustic in his exhortation to Buhari when he said inter alia: “In our recent elections, it is obvious that, like baboons, we have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. If anything, we have marched backwards.

  Apart from the much needed straight option for the digital election system to key into globalisation, the importance of restructuring the lopsided federation cannot be stressed beyond reasonable limits. Restructuring which goes with “True Federalism” simply means going back to the principles of federal system of government at the Independent and Republican Constitutions which was brushed aside by the feudal military oligarch.

  Highlighting the categorical imperative of restructuring and true federalism, Amanze Obi further stated: “The questions we should really be asking are: what has become of the clamour for restructuring?  Is it gone with the winds? Has the ovation petered out? Is the idea dead with the return of Buhari? If we are serious as a people, we will hold the president accountable in this matter…”

   In a restructured federal set up as was advocated in the 2014 National Constitutional Conference, there will be a substantial devolution of power from the behemoth exclusive legislative list to the residual legislative list which should be based on the adopted six geo-political zones of the country to be regarded as “Regional Governments”. Federalist and those versed in the systems of government and division of legislative lists in a federal set up attest to the fact that the federal government has been diplomatic and subtle in the policy of diversifying the economy to only the agricultural sector and solid minerals sector. In a true federal practice [as it was during the first republic], all the sectors are diversified to enable the constituent polities to plan how to initiate policies and programmes and projects to tackle the sectors given the socio-economic and cultural peculiarities of their people.

  The near comatose health and education sectors in the country is principally due to centralisation of the policies and programmes which do not give room to state governments to deviate based on the preferences and choices of their people. The editorial of a national daily stridently condemned the centralisation of many sectors including security system which has made insecurity virtually pervasive and intractable. Fact remains that it has become a well nigh impossibility for the Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast and the supposed bandits and criminals [euphemism for a version of the dreaded Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram] to be “technically and physically degraded and defeated” due to lack of decentralisation in the security architecture in the country with vast land mass.

  If the security architecture is decentralised in consonance with a federal set up the world over, the state or regional security operatives would have smoked out the religious fundamentalists out of their enclaves and hiding places and crushed. Decentralisation will enable the power sector to be owned by the federating units so that the country’s economy will register quantum jump, create massive employment and wealth creation.

  Buhari should shed the alleged ethno-religious toga and gird his loins to diversify all the sectors and not gloat over the marginal achievements in the agricultural and solid minerals sectors which remain a drop in the ocean of socio-economic growth and development the country direly needed.

  Decentralisation, which is at the bottom of restructuring the federation holds key to create wealth and create massive employment through creating the right ambience and environment for private sector initiatives and massive industrialisation in the country including Foreign Direct Investment [FDI]. These are no mean tasks confronting Buhari in his second tenure if he would want to make indelible marks in the sands of time as a patriotic leader who has value for modern style of governance.

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