“The Tsunami of Nigerian Politics” – as the monarch, Ooni Of Ife, referred to Labour Party Presidential Candidate, Peter Obi – did not only bring a tsunami in the Nigerian Political arena, but succeeded in awakening political participation, majorly among youth voters in Nigeria, pre and post the 2023 general elections, as did his able oppositions. One could begin with the famous controversial “Emilokan” statement, which would later herald Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s future antics into media light as the campaign progressed, or the theories revolving around Atiku Abubakar’s umpteenth and unyielding bid for the presidency.
All in all, this comment by Isaac Akerele of FirstNigeriaTV seeks to examine the intricacies of the concluded general elections, its tribunal, and look at how it has set the tone for future elections, rather than take sides.
On Wednesday, 6th September 2023, at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Chief Justice Tsammani declared, “This Petition accordingly lacks merit. I affirm the return of Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the duly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” A declaration that sums up the fate of the struggle and passion of millions of Nigerians. Excitement on one party, anger, and sadness on the other. With the court’s decision that major defences presented by the petitioners lacked merit, theories of a ‘compromised’ judiciary greet media space, while this is not unusual, as is characteristic of the polity, it sends subliminal messages on what to expect from elections going forward.
While I would not fail to criticize the gross incompetence that characterized the conduct of the election by the electoral body, INEC, for which billions were budgeted to ensure all goes well in the election, using cutting-edge technology. With its plans to display results on the go through the IREV portal, whose failure in some units set the tone for cries of ‘foul’ and further deepened the ensuing arguments, post-elections, it is admittable that anyone indeed can be ‘hacked’, as was claimed. It is worthy to note by objective-minded individuals that elections in Nigeria have always been characterized by conspiratory theories and dissatisfied sides after the elections. As is said earlier, this comment looks at the consequence of what has happened on politics, the Nigerian perception of its institutions, and the future in general.
What Now? Post-Tribunal Consequence on Nigerian Society
It is characteristic of politicians to play the Populist before elections and get the hopes of Nigerians high on the prospects of a changed Nigeria, an end to suffering, to achieve an end. This, in no small way, sets the stage for the acceptance of the Presidential Candidates by the teeming crowd of supporters. Peter Obi, of the Labour Party, became the ‘Rock’ on whose mandate the New Nigeria is to be built; the same can be said for the ‘Jagaban’ Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, whose mandate also promised a changed Nigeria. However, failure to produce substantial results that the people can see in record time usually forms a new idea, as more hiss at the system and lose faith in institutions; this is already characteristic of public opinion regarding the few-month-old tenure of President Bola Tinubu.
Regardless of the arguments on the reliability or incredulity of the Tribunal Verdict, one thing is evident for social scientists: there is a widened distrust of Nigerian institutions by the populace which must be addressed. Nigerians must once more be able to trust their institutions, and for this to happen, elections like the just-concluded 2023 election cannot repeat itself. Our fragile Nation is already too polarized. There is a pressing need for electoral reforms in all areas; transparency and accountability are a must if conspiratory theories must be quelled. When there is building mistrust and suspicion, the INEC, since it claims innocence and fairness, must go out of its way to show transparency in future elections. When there is a foolproof procedure in place with little or no reason to cry ‘foul’, objective-minded individuals can rightly trust the process, even amid the unavoidable minority clamors characterized by rumors among less-informed individuals in the nation.
Going forward for Nigerians, it is not enough to claim turns; it is time to make up for the birth pains Nigeria went through by actually performing. The present administration holds the mandate now and owes it to Nigerians to resuscitate the ailing economy as promised and effect the much-needed reforms in the various sectors. It is my firm belief that an effort to actually deliver the much-anticipated changes will make for peace in all dissatisfied sides, even as the tone is set for the next election in four years already.
To Dissatisfied Parties, the way forward is through
The way forward is always forward. It is time to cut losses, re-strategize, and look forward to the next four years for a comeback. While the opposition must be checks to the ruling body, fueling separatist and unpatriotic ideas never bodes well for the nation. If there are indeed accusations of foul play, the right way is the way through. That is, to strategize again, contest in the elections, and get power the correct way and effect the identified and much-needed reforms. Lessons from Waziri Atiku Abubakar’s race for the presidency speak to the reality that the right way is the way through. The Obedient Movement should be refueled to build formidable structures against the next elections. It is arguably safe to say that it can attain in four years, far more than it did in a few months of its birth. Waziri Atiku Abubakar and other players in the race should look forward while partnering with the Presidency to look after Nigeria’s best interests.
The 2023 general elections brought in new registered voters in their thousands. For the next four years to bring in even more participation is the focus now for all stakeholders.
For Nigeria to work as we all want it to, we must not rest on the oars nor keep our hands hanging low in defeat. It is the hallmark of true democracy to have politics characterized with such intrigues and passion.
While we cannot boast of a perfect system, we go the correct way to change what is imperfect. In doing so, we do not lose our heads making unfounded claims, outright falsehoods, or encouraging panic in the already delicate Nigerian society.
With the Nigerian Naira at its lowest in history and pains occasioned by the subsidy crisis amid others, Nigerians look forward to more from the President Bola Tinubu administration in action plans that will address these issues. There is no pixie dust magic to effect these changes immediately; however, one well-informed step after the other by Mr. President and his team should focus on the debilitating economic hardship and other sectors as we look to the future.
Since the ’90s, we have looked for a better Nigeria, told stories of past glories.
A New Nigeria is, however, coming, and as is the nature of the Nigerian Spirit, we will not stop hoping and striving.
As we wade through, a Nation bound in pains and passion, we hope to one day be bound in Peace and Unity.#