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.
Therefore, it is considered a make or mar affair because of the past predictions that the country was doomed to disintegrate. We pray such predictions never materialise.
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. So, let us interrogate the following 20-year interval milestones: 1959, 1979, 1999 and 2019. These are momentous election years in the near 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 BokoHaram rise, this fourth has endured in almost the past 20 years.
In this miasma, we have experimented with many reform projects in 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.
As we encourage Nigerians to be passionate about the coming general election, 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 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.
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.
Therefore we see the 2019 general election 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 course 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.