By Segun Showunmi
Mr President, the unpleasant optics of horror from the Kogi and Bayelsa elections, is a bright Code Red, an emergency – the nature of a fire alarm in a hospital except that this is about the fundamental idea of democracy in our country. I am particularly concerned, and I think you should also be for I cannot imagine what this portends for our country Nigeria especially as we begin to march towards future elections.
In future, should all parties in a democracy go and procure arms and soldiers in a bid to match the members of your party, the APC, and security agencies under your watch? Mr President, how do you explain that this is happening under your watch? I have reflected soberly as to what could be your reading of things. I am sure you have access to security reports indicating that all hell was let loose on the citizens you swore to protect while your police and other military agencies looked on, or in some cases, perhaps participated in this show of shame.
I need to remind you that between 1999 till 2015, the election process has continually improved with less human interference and violence. I need not overemphasize this to your good self for I have often imagined how you must have felt given that you participated in a few elections which could not have been perfect but to see that by 2015, the process had improved enough to allow an election that produced you and your government.
How do you feel watching the gains and improvements in elections and attitude to the process go literally to the dogs? The way things look now, it is as though we are now back to one of the backwater fascist inhuman dictatorships – the likes of which no longer exists in the world. One will have to look for the eras of Mussolini, and his irk to find anything remotely resembling what Nigeria has been reduced to under your watch.
What is to be gained in all this is what I am yet to fantom. We might as well save ourself the huge embarrassment within the comity of nations and spear the mothers of our children who we waste needlessly to the election process.
How do we reinforce failure and misery in such a brazen manner?
There is no gainsaying that all of this in a country with a high level of youth unemployment can only spell doom. When you also know that poverty is at an all-time high, then the matter gets elevated to a catastrophe. What we must do is to clean up the entire process. There is a need for us to ask the question, how do we have an election process that can be credible, easy to understand, transparent and fit for purpose. The Independent Electoral Commission needs to be completely reformed. What we are doing right now cannot define us going forward, we must ask the tough question. First, what are we doing with so many parties that makes the whole election process cumbersome from a logistics and costing point of view?
Everyone can accept the result of an election if it is credible but to expect a political party and its followers to look helplessly while they get killed and cheated cannot be allowed to continue. What about the needless anxiety we subject our citizens to just because they wish to exercise their franchise to choose leaders in a democracy?
Mr President fix this before it consumes all of us. I do not see this as a partisan issue for I do not know how your party can genuinely survive if we don’t reform the election process. At best, everyone will run to claim they are members of your party only to implode it and we are back to square one. It has taken us so long to birth two national parties. Therefore, we must ensure that elections and party politics must become a contestation of ideas and not some barbaric, uncivilized gang-up of criminals. Once our values collapse, our country will surely follow. Democracy is meant to give the people the power to choose their leaders and to booth them out if they feel not well served but what is going now right now is that even that right is brutally being taken from them by the agent of the state and their thugs. None of these can happen without the active encouragement and connivance of government agencies, especially as there seem to be no consequences to the perpetrators. As a self-styled champion of change, it is time to show the change in all ramifications. Mr President welcome back.