The comments by the US State Department vis-à-vis the 2011 general elections was far more positive than that of 2007. In the latter year, the aforesaid department tagged Nigeria’s elections as ‘flawed’ while a chief European union observer, Max Van Den Berg said it had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible.” Irrespective of the improvement in the coordination and credibility of the 2011 elections, it was deemed not void of gross irregularities.
Expectedly, Nigeria has yet another election to grapple with – one that has been predicted by doomsayers to lead to the disintegration of the 1914 arrangement.
Nigeria’s political system over decades has earned itself a bad representation; it has attracted widespread criticism from far and near, especially the West. As hinted in the beginning of this article, it is the unfairness and irregularities perpetrated during elections that mar the process, and the country. It is not unclear that majority of these forms of gross misconduct are made possible by young individuals. Talk about all the atrocities committed during elections in Nigeria and you’ll find youths at the center of it all. It is a pathetic situation.
Ever since the end of military rule which signalled a new dawn of democracy in Nigeria (1999), PDP has been in the seat of power. APC, a new and widely acclaimed worthy contender, now appears set to end this cycle. Two factors set both party candidates apart and the first one was responsible for stirring a crisis after the 2011 elections. The election followed a controversy as to whether a Muslim or Christian should be allowed to become president given the tradition of rotating the top office between the religions and following the death of Umaru Yar’Adua , who was a Muslim, and Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, assuming the interim presidency. In this present case, it is apparent that both candidates are religiously dissimilar.
The other factor relates to APC’s candidate, Buhari, who was once a military head of state while PDP’s Jonathan has always been a civilian. This disparity could stir the people either way, and this is decided based on the antecedents of the candidates. This factor may also do more than affect people’s opinion and decision; it may trigger hostility – which is what we do not need.
The goal here is to remind the general public of how unfortunate, ill-conducted and gory our past elections have been and to attempt to avoid a repeat. No matter how agitated we are with the turnout of the electoral process, it should be no cause for violence. No matter how tempting a call to disrupt or rig during the elections, let abstinence be your position.
As a student, I have experienced politics in the university. I must say, it is far from impressive. Almost everything about the elections are usually flawed. Albeit, I believe that with the right orientation things can be done differently. So as we anticipate the coming elections, let us all sear our hearts against corruption and in our little way ensure that credibility is achieved. A united Nigeria is better than a divided one; let’s preserve this self-acclaimed oneness. For the love of Nigeria!