2023 elections: Politicians, save Nigeria from disintegration.
This is an article that we are republishing because it suits the current situation of the country.
Since the transition to civil and democratic rule in 1999, Nigeria has witnessed a series of ethnoreligious conflicts stimulated by different political factors. This has been the major cause of the country’s economic regress and political instability. In fact, politics has never been as tough as it is in the present dispensation. Political activities, as well as electioneering campaigns for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, have taken different coloration from previous ones.
The major political parties, the All Progressive Congress (APC) – the ruling party, – the major opposition which are the Labour Party (LP), and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), are the most vibrant in the race to acquire different political offices in the country. These parties are preparing fervently to record success in the forthcoming general elections.
As politicking gets tough day by day, the most challenging issue in the country is insecurity, which has been heightened by the insurgent activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group. The group came to prominence in 2009 with its incessant insurgent activities of kidnappings, killings, and bombings which have affected both the economy and political stability of the country.
Boko Haram attacks have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, displaced almost half a million Nigerians, destroyed thousands of properties in the Northeastern part of the country, and caused several threats to Nigeria’s security. The most disturbing aspect of the insurgent activities of Boko Haram is the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in April last year from Chibok, Borno state.
The southwestern and southeastern parts of the country also have their own fair share of the insurgent groups which include the Odua People’s Congress (OPC) and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), among others. Insurgencies, coupled with different ethnoreligious conflicts and leadership failures have been the major challenges to the security of lives and properties in Nigeria.
As commentators and critics have noted, under the current political dispensation, public corruption has become more pervasive in our country than ever before. Almost on a daily basis, the media is awash with news about the high level of corruption in our country.
Nigeria has been described as a “weak state,” leaning towards failure, a “crippled giant,” a nation of “wasted resources,” where oil has become a curse instead of a blessing to its citizens. As a state, Nigeria has failed to meet the basic human needs of its population; it lacks transparent and accountable political institutions and it has not produced sustainable or equitable economic growth. What is being experienced today in Nigeria is what most scholars call leadership crisis, leadership challenge, failure of leadership, or lack of leadership.
In his work titled, The Trouble With Nigeria, Chinua Achebe noted that: “the trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else.
The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership.” Achebe identified ethnicism (tribalism), and corruption as Nigeria’s twin evils and “in spite of conventional opinion, Nigeria has been less than fortunate in its leadership.”
The survival of a nation depends on good leadership and the respect it has for the virtues of democracy. If true democracy is seen as it is popularly conceived (as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people), it is, therefore, justifiable to say that Nigeria’s brand of democracy has given the world a reason to think that the basic or elementary principles of democracy are after all, questionable and inadequate in the country. “Ours is a democracy that thrives upon filth.
Leaders are selected rather than elected, electorates are subjugated rather than liberated, and results of votes cast are cooked up in someone’s living room rather than collated from the honest votes of the electorates.”
Regional and faith-based politics have been the key challenges posing a serious threat to the political stability of Nigeria. These have been witnessed in 2011, 2015, and 2019 political activities. Politicians nowadays divide the electorates along ethnic and religious lines.
The campaigns of major political parties in Nigeria have been characterized by verbal attacks since the takeoff of electioneering campaigns in the country. Additionally, in almost all the media (broadcast and print), the two political parties have been attacking themselves with derogative statements and sensational advertorials on a daily basis.
“Politics is not war.” There is a popular belief among some foreigners that politics in Africa, particularly in Nigeria is a “dirty game.” Politicians, political parties, and elder statesmen need to be abreast of the fact that they ought to engage in responsible politics.
Nigerians have so many things in common, which they have shared for years long. The use of inciting and derogative statements during campaigns will yield no good for this country. Politicians should also remember that politics is not a “do” or “die” affair and Nigeria as a nation, operates a democratic, not dictatorial system of government.
In spite of all these divisions and challenges in the country, the focus of the electorate should be on which of the candidates has the vision and leadership qualities to resolve some of our “deep-seated” problems that cut across the ethnic, religious, and social divides of our nation.
For the future of the Nigerian state to be guaranteed, government at all levels should imbibe a political democratic culture that promotes values such as popular participation of citizens in decision-making, fundamental human rights, a free press, the curbing of corruption, and above all, shunning of all anti-democratic vices in dealing with issues of the state and the application of the principles of true fiscal federalism without religious adherence to these ideals, then the future will be bleak for Nigeria as a nation.
Importantly, media regulatory agencies and professional organizations must rise against the use of media for the promotion of hatred and intolerance among Nigerians, especially during the election period.
Media regulatory agencies and professional organizations like the Nigerian Press Council (NPC), National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) need to take measures to ensure that the mass media (print and electronic) do not broadcast or publish inciting comments and statements made by political parties and politicians so as to save the nation from disintegration as predicted by some observers.
I will like to conclude this piece by quoting the words of the Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka who stated that: “let’s say there are prospects for a new Nigeria, but I don’t think we have a new Nigeria yet.” We must learn to live peacefully with one another. God who created us has His reasons for bringing us together in one country and the preaching of hatred and intolerance among ourselves will not help us in any way. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “our nation will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
Written by Ahmad Muhammad Auwal a 400-level Mass Communication student of NSUK