On the Rescheduled Election: Opportunity for a Carnival

By Abdulwarees Solanke

Director of Media & Strategic Communications,
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, Lagos

Friday, 22 February 2019.

When the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman announced the postponement of the elections, few hours to the election last Saturday, the entire nation was dismayed and disappointed.

The ground for failure was rooted in INEC internal structure, our rancorous politics and the lack of unanimity on the inviolability of the election process on the part the three arms of govt (recall budget delay, distracting court judgement etc).

INEC needs a massive overhaul to make it a nimble and competent organisation and to fit into the new ethical purview of the nation. Unfortunately, this internal reform cannot be done during the election period given mutual distrust. That should be an urgent task after the general elections.

There is also the need for INEC or govt to initiate and review current political structure, it’s costly, needless, distracting, and largely rent-seeking. We do not need an open-ended political party registration system that turns politics into Jankara market, it is susceptible to abuses while adding little value to national political development.

The consequence is what we have seen in terms of long ballot papers that may result in more invalid votes, huge costs and rent-seeking injunctions and campaigns.

With tomorrow’s return to the polls, the immediate task is for INEC to live up to its promise of free, fair and credible elections. Nothing short of this. The Judiciary particularly, politicians and national institutions to cooperate and allow Nigerians to freely exercise their rights to choose their leaders.

Ideally, we want to see the elections as an opportunity to demonstrate the essential nature of the average Nigerian as peaceful if not for the challenges that have pervaded the nation, if not for the mistrust and disappointments the nation in hands of the past leaders.

Although the nation abhorred and heavily deplored the sudden postponement, perhaps we should see it another perspective as puncturing tension in the land because in the run-up to last Saturday, enthusiasm to vote in many parts of the country was also laced with palpable apprehension. And we see these in killings and kidnap incidents in some parts of the country, the most unfortunate of which is the episode in Kajuru in southern Kaduna where it has been established that Nealy 80 deaths we recorded.

Such incidents, particularly in election period do not offer hope for peaceful election nor build confidence in any assistance of security of lives and properties.

In the next 24 hours when we return to the polling centres, we should all seek Allah to envelop the nation with peace and calmness. Our resolve to vote must be in our preference to see Nigeria getting better and moving to the next level of development.

It must be in consciousness that we can have fun, celebrating the sustainability of the fourth republic now in its 20th year, making it a carnival or festival of sorts rather than a bloody affair capable of pulling Nigeria down. If it is a wish of some that this election fails, it is our firm belief that Allah is in control to hold Nigeria one in peace. We will get it right and embrace and dance together in celebration of an outcome confirms Nigeria the real God’s own country where peace and justice shall reign.

Tomorrow, let’s return to vote in joy as a nation of one destiny, voting rightly without rancour or violence but celebrating our love and faith in Nigeria and commitment to her unity and progress.

Abdulwarees Solanke
Director, Media & Strategic Communications,
Muslim Public Affairs Center, Nigeria