Looking at the way things are, politically and economically in the country, owing to mismanagement of our common wealth by corrupt politicians and others who hold public offices, Nigerians of all shades of opinions and socio- political groups such as Afenifere, Arewa, Ohaneze, PANDEF, Northern Elders Forum, Middle Belt Forum, trade unions, traditional institutions, the religious-Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Muslim Ulamas; pressure groups, market men and women associations, have all called for peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections if indeed the country must move forward like other nations of the world. The call made at different times in the past remains crucial, especially now that the future of the country is tied to the outcome of this year’s presidential election and other polls that are lined up by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Just recently in Jos, Plateau State, the UN and ECOWAS during a mediation training and interactive meeting with the Inter- Party Advisory Council (IPAC), with other critical stakeholders advised INEC and other key players in the Nigerian electoral process to ensure that the elections are peaceful and credible.
The concerns of the UN are timely and important as well as encouraging. This must be taken seriously, especially now that some candidates of the major political parties are shying away from the real issues that Nigerians want them to talk about in their campaigns. Interestingly, the Chairman of INEC, Prof, Mahmood Yakubu in his presentation at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham house), London talked so much on the importance of the forthcoming general elections to Nigeria and Africa in general. He used the opportunity to assure the international community and Nigeria, especially that the commission would conduct free, fair and credible election. The INEC boss put the current voter population in Nigeria at 93.4 million as against 76.7 million voters in all of Africa put together, meaning that, conducting general elections in Nigeria is like conducting election in the whole of West Africa to be precise. For the INEC boss, this means that Nigeria must get it right this time. This is food for thought for the federal government to do what it can to ensure that the election in every inch, all the way, is given top priority in terms of preparation and execution.
The security agencies too, and other relevant bodies involved in this critical election therefore, should not wait to be told that the survival and progress of the country at this point lies in their hands. Meanwhile, having a credible poll in a country as big as ours should not be the sole responsibility of INEC and few agencies of government. The citizens should also realise that they have their own roles to play by shunning violence and ensuring they vote on the election day to elect leaders of their choice. Conducting credible polls in a complex society such as Nigeria would not only build confidence in the leaders, but would in fact, promote peace and harmony which have eluded the country for so long. The assurance of Prof. Yakubu to conduct credible polls is cheering and must continue to resonate. It is on record that President Muhammadu Buhari said he had provided all that INEC needed to conduct free, fair and credible elections. While we await the outcome of the polls, INEC should note that all eyes are on them.
…On a sad note
We are saddened by the death of Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi of St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Kafin Koro in Niger State whose house was set ablaze by bandits as the priest died in the fire. The sudden and despicable death of Fr. Achi has brought the number of Catholic Priests killed between last year and now to 39, with 30 priests also abducted, according to SBM intelligence report. The death of innocent and harmless citizens has cast dark shadows on the history of the country. We hope that one day this madness will stop and not repeat itself anymore.