Tomorrow is January 1, 2015. For all Nigerians, the countdown to a decisive polls slated for February 14, has since started. Beginning from tomorrow however, the countdown will assume a renewed frenzy among citizens. Unless there is a sudden alteration in the calendar of the polls, that we fervently don’t pray for, it will be precisely 45 days to all the polls beginning with the presidential.
The impending elections would be the fourth successively conducted since the dawn of the 4th Republic in 1999. They were held in 2003, 2007 and 2011. In all previous conduct of the polls, results were disputed up to the Supreme Court on allegations of irregularities in, especially, the presidential. The late President, Umaru Yar’adua who took over from former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, actually admitted such flaws in the election that brought him to office in 2007.
Next year’s election promises to be the keenest. For a number of reasons, most Nigerians yearn for change. They are dissatisfied with the existing status quo. Life for the ordinary Nigerian has been very challenging. The indices have been unimpressive.
Increasing insecurity, a progressively weakening national currency and a hostile political authority combine to wet the grounds for a titanic electoral contest in the new year, a mere 24 hours away.
All manner of pundits are predicting a rancorous electoral duel. Some even posit a possible decimation of the entity called Nigeria in the coming year. Some international watchers of Nigeria’s evolving democracy predicted this Armageddon by the coming year. Specifically John Dmitri Negroponte of the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) of the US president was the first to fly the kite of Nigeria’s imminent disintegration by the coming year. Others have followed suit though not as spectacularly. Only recently, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, former external affairs minister, warned of the catastrophe that awaits the nation should any of the leading gladiators win the presidential polls. According to him, the nation is polarized along the north-south divide.
While we appreciate Bolaji’s fears, we however, don’t share this pessimism. We welcome the suggestion by Akinyemi of a possible bond to be signed by the leading presidential gladiators to guard against the outbreak of violence in the wake of the forthcoming election. We are skeptical of its efficacy nonetheless for we believe that the best way to guarantee peaceful election is by having a transparent one. A situation in which eligible voters are disenfranchised by design or default, or results doctored to favour a party or candidate is a recipe for violence. Successive elections and serial failure to deliver on campaign promises have taught voters to dutifully exercise their rights to elect their leaders.
We urge all meaning Nigerians to shame the cynics at home and abroad by having a peacefully conducted election in the coming year. We wish all citizens a prosperous new year that will usher a new dawn in the country.