The Nigerian people from the age of 18 and above have continued to besiege various INEC registration centres for their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC), including Local Government Areas. The number of people that have shown interest in the ongoing registration of the voters’ exercise, surprisingly, has increased after the two main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), elected and announced their presidential flag bearers for next year’s general elections.
This is different from what we witnessed in previous elections. The Churches too, have encouraged their members to take part in the ongoing registration exercise since it’s a civic duty for all citizens, including Christians, to participate in electing their leaders by voting candidates of their choice, and not to sit back and complain when the elections must have been won and lost. The Catholic Herald newspaper in the past had also admonished the faithful in all parishes, of voting age across board to obtain their PVCs as the country gears for yet another general election, by 2023.
It went further and called on the Independent National Electoral Commission to ensure that prospective voters are given the opportunity to register seamlessly without any form of inhibition or harassment. The number of people that turn out virtually on daily basis at various INEC registration centres simply justified the fact that, Nigerians, apart from being conscious of their political environment, are also ready for the upcoming elections, especially the youths who have lost count of the number of months they have wasted staying at home due to ASUU strike. It also means that, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike that is still on, in many ways has woken up the sleeping spirits in the youths as they now get involved, more than ever, in the political process at least, to see if a Messiah could come to their rescue.
The insecurity in the country which is now out of control, as people are still being killed, and kidnapped on daily basis is a major issue that Nigerians can no longer wait to be solved. It is expected that issue of insecurity would dominate discourse as Nigerians await campaign promises and party manifestos in the months ahead. At the recently concluded presidential primaries of Nigeria’s two political parties, the APC and the PDP, the influence of money during the exercise was reportedly overwhelming. The money bazaar was so obvious such that, some prominent aspirants withdrew from the exercise. Some of the aspirants in the primaries scored nothing because they had no money to throw around to buy the delegates who unfortunately were the ones that decided the fate of over two hundred million Nigerians at the conventions.
By and large, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has a big task this time, especially now that the people of Nigeria seem to have lost hope in their leaders, just as the country is sliding. Many believe that Nigeria, given the level of corrupt tendencies among the political class, is irredeemable. This is the time the electoral body should rise to the occasion and ensure that, the will of the people is not subverted. Interestingly, President Muhammadu Buhari in his June 12, national broadcast assured Nigerians that one of his legacies would include fair and transparent 2023 general elections. This promise is also coming on the heels of his declaration before the presidential primary of his party that he had no preferred candidate that would succeed him. We want to see a repeat of this kind of neutrality of Mr. President during next year’s general election. We also want to see collaborations between INEC and the anti-graft agencies to nip in the bud the processes that would throw up the wrong candidates in the Nigeria electoral system beginning from the grassroots to the national level.
That the country is not making genuine progress as it should, despite the quantum of human and material resources at her disposal is because the wrong people, unfortunately, are those in the positions of authority. INEC as it stands today, should wake up to its responsibilities. We want to see INEC invoking the relevant legislations against inimical electoral practices aimed at punishing those who run afoul of the law. There should be serious enlightenment campaign and education to be embarked upon by INEC to educate the Nigerian people on the dangers of vote selling.
INEC staff, and all party agents also should be trained adequately to forestall any one found playing the Judas when the elections proper begins. This is the time to begin serious sensitisation because the country cannot afford anymore the mistake of the past. The upsurge of voters’ registration across the country is an indication that a movement is in the offing. We pray God in His infinite mercy delivers Nigeria at this critical time. Everyone is anxious to see that happen!