MPAC ON NIGERIA’S GENERAL ELECTIONS: HOPE OF A NEW DAWN
By Abdulwarees Solanke
Nigerians are now caught in the fervour of the 2019 general elections. Campaigns are on a feverish pitch as political office seekers embark on last-ditch efforts to win the hearts of the electorate. The fever is not just among Nigerians but in the international community too who look towards the outcome of the election as the basis for defining the future relationship with Nigeria.
The passion is understandable. It is the quest to effect a change in the general conditions of the county and the citizens, make Nigeria a better or greater country. Therefore, it is considered a make or mar affair because of the past predictions that the country was doomed to disintegrate, given the unfulfilled promises in the aftermath of past polls and certain contradictions that have locked down the country’s potentials. We pray such predictions never materialize.
For us at the Muslim Public Affairs Centre, we strongly believe that Nigeria is destined to last, that this country is a nation willed by God, that in spite of our diversity, Nigerians will always stand in brotherhood and that neither war nor polls shall pull us apart. To the glory of Allah Who has infinitely blessed our country, this historic election will strengthen our resolve to build a nation where peace and justice will always reign.
So, let us interrogate the following 20-year interval milestones: 1959, 1979, 1999 and 2019. These are of cause momentous election years in the nearly 60-year history of independent Nigeria. The 1959 elections ushered us into a new dawn of independence from the British imperialists while the 1979 elections gave us the opportunity to correct the mistakes of the first republic when democracy was at its very infancy in the country. Our immaturity, impatience and political recklessness precipitated the military interregnum that lasted 13 years between 1966 and 1979.
In barely four years of democratic government but with a seeming repeat of the errors of the first republic, the second republic collapsed for the military to take another advantage of the political recklessness of 1979 to 1983, foisting themselves on our psyche and public life for another 16 years within which a third republic experimented. This process which would have produced a popularly elected president was disrupted with an annulment before we managed to berth at the fourth republic in 1999. In spite of threats and storms of all kinds, including secession plots and Boko Haram rise, this Fourth has endured in almost the past 20 years.
There is of cause no doubt that since 1960, the Nigerian fabric has been threatened and indeed almost to be torn into shreds. We fought a civil war, we suffered ethnic crises and we have not been immune from many religious but politically motivated disturbances. In the entire period, we have in tangible terms have been traumatised by many development challenges, mostly out of the rapacity of corrupt politicians and conscienceless public officials while our authentic values have been with disdain desecrated by the obnoxiousness and obscenity of foreign influences in every aspect of our national and public life.
In this miasma, we have experimented with many reform projects in the awareness that our nation must not be allowed to disintegrate or trip into oblivion. That Nigeria must rise and take its rightful place as an authentic voice and giant of Africa and the entire black race. Indeed we have also made several attempts at constructing a true nation out of what national pessimists commonly called a contraption left behind by the usurping colonialists. But as Muslims, we do not consider all our past self-redemptive efforts including elections as wasteful or something of chance to keep us together but as willed by Allah.
Indeed, we do not pretend about the unpalatability of the happenings in the polity since the country’s independence in 1960 nor are we shying away from the fact that the citizens including leaders and followers have inflicted upon the nation the worst political and economic carnage. These are responsible for today’s crisis of development which political parties and candidates latch upon to seek votes or mandates from the electorate. Our concern is not the promises any politician offers in reshaping or redirecting the country. Rather, we look forward to the public service pedigree and fibre of candidates the parties push forward, their God-consciousness, integrity and experience, and more significantly too, their commitment to national ideals and readiness to sacrifice for the nation at any level of responsibility.
This is because our political psychology has always been one of the motivation to corner the resources of the state and convert them to personal benefits that power and position confer and not for patriotic concerns. Now people are more conscious and we hope the outcome of this election offers the opportunity to demonstrate that never again will politicians take the electorate for a ride in the country.
As we encourage Nigerians to be passionate about the coming general elections, we plead for peaceful conduct and non-prejudicial disposition of all throughout the entire process. In our call for a free, fair and transparent election, we plead that due consideration must be given to the right and credible choice of candidates into all offices at executive and legislative or representative branches of government.
Such choice or preference of candidates we note must be informed by concern for the national and public interest, not by any primordial, paternalistic, patronage and clientele’s interest that often informed voting patterns which never served the good of Nigeria in the past. In the same vein, we must also pray to achieve the best for the country through this all-important exercise that will shape the future of Nigeria.
As we count down ultimately to the polls, the ultimate winners and heroes will be the electoral umpire responsible for conducting the elections, that is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security services drafted to keep the peace, secure the nation and guard the ballots and the electorate who are expected to vote according to their conscience and not by any inducement in any form or with any means no matter how juicy or attractive is the offer.
At MPAC, we say this because it is a cardinal Islamic duty to work and pray for our nation, to keep her together, guide or advise her leaders and sensitize the citizenry to virtues. Therefore we see the 2019 general elections as a litmus test and the greatest opportunity to usher Nigeria into a new dawn, an opportunity to begin proper nation-building and an exercise to confirm our resolve for the indissolubility of the country.
This of cause would be in the choice or voting of men and women who aspire to lead or represent us at the various levels of government. This demands that we vote and choose rightly those who would serve the cause of the nation with all their strength, sacrifice their means and selves, work for her peace and unity and defend her honour and glory. These coming elections must prove it.
May Allah in His infinite mercy afford us a Nigeria where all our dreams, hopes and expectations of happiness, justice, security, peace and greatness are met, in the rise of A NEW DAWN.
Director, Media &Strategic Communications
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, Nigeria