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2023: Nigeria at cross roads

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THE much talked about 2023 general elections in the country are already around the corner and political activities had gathered momentum and almost at a crescendo or fever pitch.

The various political parties are currently traversing the length and breadth of the country and presenting their manifestos and promises to the electorate who would ultimately make their choices on who among the serious contenders for the top job of the next president of the country, as well as other elective offices at various levels they, the electorate, would finally cast their votes for, in the coming elections which are barely four weeks away.

  It is a sad commentary however, that the campaign activities by the political gladiators and their supporters across the nation leading up to the election on 25th February, 2023, had been terribly marred and characterised by acts of violence, intolerance, unbridled blackmail, mudslinging, character assassination, innuendo, calumny, and other rather unspeakable negative tendencies.

  Indeed, the spate of violence in the run up to the election has rather become intolerable and worrisome and constituted a grave threat to the electoral process.

The level of violence and criminal destruction of INEC facilities across the country by the anti-democratic forces had apparently given rise to the leadership of the electoral body to raise an alarm and issued serious warnings at various times that the electoral process might be in serious jeopardy unless the relevant security agencies took prompt action to stem the tide and halt the ugly trend by quickly nipping in the bud the criminal and senseless destruction of INEC facilities across the nation.

It is pertinent to mention however, that at a certain stage, there was even the speculation that the electoral body (INEC) might be forced to either postpone or put off the entire electoral process should the current intolerable level of violence in the country persisted, a situation that might trigger off a major constitutional crisis of unimaginable dimension.

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  It is heartwarming therefore, that the electoral body’s helmsman, Professor Mammud Yakubu was recently reported to have reassured the Nigerian public, as well as the international community at large that the electoral umpire was never contemplating the postponement of the general elections or  ever considering putting off the entire electoral process.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Yakubu was reported to have given this solemn undertaking and assurances during his recent town hall meeting at Chatham Hall in London, that the forthcoming elections must hold as scheduled and that the anti-democratic forces working against the electoral process which would offer the Nigerian people the rare opportunity to take their destiny into their own hands through their massive participation during the elections was bound to fail, even as he had equally assured the international community that the electoral body was now ready and had perfected all arrangements to deliver a free, fair, transparent and credible electionsto the Nigerian people.

The INEC Chairman, however, admonished the political parties and their supporters to eschew violence in any manner or form and tow the path of civility and tolerance, as well as imbibe the virtue of healthy competition and spirit of sportsmanship throughout the electioneering campaigns.

It was indeed a welcome and cheering news for the political gladiators and their teeming supporters and by extension, the Nigeria public that the forthcoming elections must hold after all as scheduled as already guaranteed by the electoral umpire.

  It has become imperative and incumbent on the political parties and their candidates to heed the timely advice by the INEC Chairman and quickly halt the escalating violence and other negative tendencies among their gullible supporters.

The political party candidates at all levels in the upcoming elections should focus and deploy their full energies on issue based campaigns and diligently present their manifestos to the electorate to enable them make their informed choices or decisions for themselves and their future generations rather than engaging in negative sentiments bordering on ethnicity, religion or region to woo their largely uninformed and gullible supporters.

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  It is instructive to observe in this piece, however, that among the 18 political parties that would be on the ballot, only four political parties and their candidates are indeed the front runners and appear to be serious in the race for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and they are namely; APC, PDP, LP and NNPP.

The parties’ candidates, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, of the APC, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the NNPP are currently engaged in epic political battle for the Presidency and certain opinion polls at various times had placed the Labour Party’s flag bearer, Peter Obi as the front runner and potential winner of the presidential race while the PDP’s flag bearer ,Atiku Abubakar was placed as the possible winner of the race by yet another polls.

It is pertinent also to observe however, that these opinion polls had become rather controversial as it seemed there were no empirical or verifiable data used by those who conducted the opinion polls to arrive at their different conclusions.

Political pundits or commentators had however, predicted that the presidential election might finally end up in a run-off between the two possible leading contenders who were likely to emerge as it might not be possible for a clear winner to emerge on the first ballot.

  Never the less, Nigerians are therefore urged to brace up to any unforeseen circumstances or challenges that might arise after the 25th February, 2023 Presidential election. There must be no going back and we must get it right this time around.

 It would be recalled however, that the four major presidential contenders as mentioned earlier individually had in the recent past held town hall meetings with Nigerians in diaspora at the famous Chatham House in far away London, UK, where each of them presented his manifesto or blue print to the international community on different occasions on how if elected, he would tackle the endemic and multifarious challenges currently facing the Nigeria nation.

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  It is needless to emphasise the point in this piece however, that Nigeria is currently at crossroads and dangerously sitting on a keg of gun powder which might explode into unimaginable disaster and tremendous conflagration and as such, everything humanly possible must be done to avert the looming catastrophe that might consume the entire nation.

And the only antidote to the current unpredictable and extremely dangerous political situation in the country is to ensure that the coming elections would be free, fair, transparent and credible and that the people’s votes must surely count which would obviously facilitate the emergence of a crop of selfless leaders who will truly be accountable to the people.

The dark clouds are already gathering in the air and ominous signs of great danger ahead and therefore all leaders of conscience in the country must unite and ensure that this terrible prediction of doomsday is averted and must not come to past.

  The coming elections obviously would be make or mar for Nigeria’s future and we must not fail to get it right this time around, even as the global community is anxiously waiting for the “sleeping giant of Africa” to quickly arise from her deep slumber and take her rightful place in the comity of nations and among the developed and civilized nations of the world.

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