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Published On: Tue, Oct 7th, 2014

2015: Will power return to the people?

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President Goodluck JonathanBy Ochiaka Ugwu

Democracy has been aptly defined by many scholars of political organism and developmental studies as government by majority which places the wishes and aspirations of people of a particular enclave

beyond individual or group interests. This best explains why many nations of the world are doing everything humanly possible to entrench democratic structure in their lands.

Even Nigerians are not left out as it is now customary for civil society groups to take it as a point of duty to educate the populace elections after elections.

They always go all out to mobilise Nigerians so that they can see the contest as their own, rise up and defend it in such a way that, without carrying guns, they will overwhelm whatever disruptive actions the anti-democratic forces might wish to take. So hopefully, the people themselves have a duty to ensure that power returns to them.

Similarly, most Nigerians believe that the elites always use the state apparatus to subdue people’s wish by manipulating any contest to suit their whims and caprices. This was to find an expression in the words of the former National Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) and a delegate to the just concluded National Conference, Engineer Buba Galadima. Galadima while berating the 2011 election said that what it takes one to win a presidential election is only for the person to have Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in his kit.

The electoral body will declare the person winner against the choice of the people whereas the army chief will be on hand to deploy troops against the people in the event of rising to defend their votes.

Everybody is speaking about 2015 general elections. They also averred that the people must be the subject of the election. It will be an arrangement that will see that those seeking election in 2015 will sign a pact with the people and be chosen by the same people thereby returning power to the Nigerian people.

Some conservatives have insisted that the political offices are not for neophytes who will just emerge from the votes of not-too-well informed Nigerians and needs the tutelage of the elites to carry on.

But there was no guarantee that these elites or savours of Nigerians would nominate those who are not loyal to them instead of going the way of the people for the common good. On the face of it, you might say that they always include those who do not have an electoral price at stake just for personal gains.

The last elections were no elections.

Now government says they want to restructure the political system and give the authority to choose members of the restructuring team to dubiously elected people.

What you are going to have is the voice of the political office holders; telling this nation which direction to go or whom to elect.

From the look of things, there is every conviction that the electorate would continue to resist attempt by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to turn the nation into a one-party state and also impose

their henchmen on positions of authority.

All what they want is an exercise based on democratic election for a united and democratic Federal Republic of Nigeria that we demand and desire. 2015 election will be an insult on the conscience of the people if it fails to meet the yearning of ordinary Nigerians.

Notable agitators of better society have out rightly rejected PDP and what it represents saying their programmes and proposals are clearly different from what the Nigerian people wanted.

The hitch with our political system was that people were always stampeded and cajoled to reaching a decision on key issues affecting the polity. It has been described as a military kind of attitude. In a democracy, decisions are reached after every side has been given a hearing and definitely, that cannot be done with intimidation and harassment.

Ordinarily, the people of Nigeria should be allowed to raise issues to be discussed and elect their representatives but now, we have a situation where the ruling party has adopted candidates without observing the normal party primaries and arrange a system that will make them to be elected without recourse to the people’s plan.

That is not the people’s government because the people will make no contribution to it. It is entirely an elitist arrangement that will produce another unpopular government that will not be people oriented.

That is not what the people of Nigeria are asking for. They want power to return to them no matter what.

There is every acceptance that there is a nexus between free and fair elections and good governance. Challenges of free and fair election in any democratic setting could best be viewed against the structural

setting of the environment i.e. the electoral management bodies involved in the conduct, supervision regulating and adjudicating over all elections in that jurisdiction like INEC in our own case must not be found wanting.

Election management bodies occupy a strategic position in the electoral process and by implication are decisive for the success of any democratic system of government. Since they are charged with the responsibility of organizing elections, their omission or commission could make or mar elections.

In examining the challenges of free and fair election and the relationship between election management bodies and the institutionalization of good governance, the focal point is that an independent, impartial, transparent, effective and efficient electoral management body is a prerequisite for the institutionalization of a viable democratic political system.

In reality, what actually bothers the minds of Nigerians is that those who should ordinarily act as statesmen and vanguards of social change are themselves the architects of the current sorry state of our electoral process.

For instance, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who Nigerian State has so much invested in for both personal comfort and robust international stature later turned against Nigerians by getting himself involved in unrestrained manipulation of state power to strangulate electoral space.  In his avowed commitment to that sordid agenda, Obasanjo declared to the bewildered Nigerians that 2007 general elections would be a do-or-die affair meaning that he will apply every means to win the election.  What truly followed during the elections was an audacious poll robbery through thuggery, ballot stuffing, votes manipulations, compromise of INEC officials  through intimidation, complicity by security agencies in favour of the ruling Party.

To add to the difficulty, they have tactically impoverished Nigerians to the extent that one’s loyalty can be bought with a bag of rice.

That best explains why people are now voting for their stomach instead of issues or programmes that will turn their lives around for better.

The worst part of it was that those who collected rice in exchange for their vote in recent Ekiti State governorship election must have finished the rice before the governor-elect will be sworn-in.

As it stands today, particularly in reference to the last elections, it is clear that conscious process have to be put in place for a free and fair elections in 2015, as it is believed that it is not the electoral laws that are actually responsible for the inadequacies in our election process but the politicians, most often in the ruling Party who employ do or die tactics to subvert the people’s will. It is time for power to return to the people who are the original owner.

“To add to the difficulty, they have tactically impoverished Nigerians to the extent that one’s loyalty can be bought with a bag of rice.

That best explains why people are now voting for their stomach instead of issues or programmes that will turn their lives around for better”

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