The way this vote should go

edb lekan sote
edb lekan sote

The all-important presidential election is just four days away, and it promises to be earthshaking. It will likely determine if Nigerians will continue the rollercoaster of denial of voters’ choices, disruption of the yet unfolding democratic values and structures, continued poverty; and dismal economic development.

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, thinks Nigeria will likely become a major superpower by the mid-21st century. This next election will significantly advance or delay the actualisation of this profound prediction.

If Nigerians do not vote wisely, if they mess up with their ballot paper, and do not wait to ensure that the votes are counted, verified and (electronically) transmitted via the BVAS device to the collation centres, their efforts would have been in vain.

So the billions the Independent National Electoral Commission, political parties and Nigerians would have spent on election logistics would amount to an absolute waste of priceless resources.

Do not waste your vote, guard your Permanent Voter Card and your vote, and do not engage in any violent acts near the polling units. Stay calm and insist that other voters and the polling officers comply with the rules of the game.

If you engage in thuggery or any other type of violence near the polling unit on election day, you will play into the hands of the enemies, who profit from the current confusion, those the Yoruba describe as, “.”

Broadcast journalist and a dear friend, Jumoke Alawode-James, suggested that you could counter electoral violence with the FlagIT app promoted by a non-government organisation, the Akin Fadeyi Foundation.

Alawode-James says, with the FlagIT app on your phone, you can report electoral violence and other malpractices during the elections in real-time, and thus compel some healthy dose of decency during the coming elections.

She hopes that INEC, midwife of the crucial elections, would collaborate with the promoters of FlagIT app so that everyone at the polling units, knowing that their actions can be recorded and reported, will comport themselves.

In case you’d like to know, FlagIT app can also help you report bribery and corruption acts by law enforcement officers; human trafficking, gender-based violence and sexual abuse; as well as election malpractices.

With this app, that is worth celebrating, both the (usually ignored) Nigerian mass media and journalists and the oppressed citizens of Nigeria can hold the government, its agencies and agents accountable.

Samson Itodo’s Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement has the following tips for voters and observers on election day: Go early to the polling unit, to enable you observe every action, like verifying ballot papers and result sheets and ascertaining that the BVAS has zero figures before voting commences.

After voting, wait to ensure that ballot papers are counted and recorded on appropriate forms, be sure that voting figures are uploaded unto INEC’s Elections Results Viewing Portal with the BVAS device. If network fails, follow the INEC officials to wherever they will get network to upload the results electronically.

Finally, insist that the INEC officials should post the voting results at the polling unit, and go with them to the ward election results collation centres to ensure there are no “mago mago,” or collation manipulations.

On its part, INEC has promised to introduce a Results Viewing Portal that will enable voters view polling results real-time at the end of voting on election day; curb misinformation from mischievous fake news portals; and enhance voting transparency.

In addition to ensuring that the “hygiene” aspects of the elections are upheld, citizens must intelligently cast their votes in this election. Anyone who allows himself to be swayed by vote buying or other wayward means to cast his vote must be an enemy of this country.

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As Alawode-James further counsels, voters must carefully place their thumb in the appropriate box against the name(s) or the logo and name of the party of their candidate, fold properly and ensure that the ink does not smear into the box of another political party. If it does, that invalidates the vote.

But, to the meat of this discourse: Nigerians, who occupy the highest office of citizens of this country, have an obligation to themselves and to their posterity, to vote the best candidates to run the executive branch and the legislative arm of Nigeria’s Federal Government from May 29, 2023.

The 1999 Nigerian Constitution, almost a carbon copy of the military-inspired 1979 Constitution, confers immense political, military and patronage powers on the President, who is a military President in borrowed civilian garb.

When President Umaru Yar’Adua was completely incapacitated, and it was imperative to invoke Section 144(1,a) of the Constitution, so that “two-thirds majority of all members of the Executive Council of the Federation (or the Cabinet)” could call for a medical examination of the President, they were feigning ignorance.

It took the uncommon courage of Prof Dora Akunyili, Minister of Information and Culture, before the needful could be done. Even then, it took a doctrine of necessity before Vice President Goodluck Jonathan could be elevated to Acting President, and inaugurated substantive President.

Because the Nigerian President has so much patronage to dispense, many people grovel before him, lying and generally making fools of themselves, when they should be demanding good governance from him.

Though Section 22 of the Constitution requires the media to “uphold the fundamental objectives contained in (the social justice provisions of Chapter II) of the Constitution and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people,” the Section 6(6,c) ouster clause denies the courts the authority to entertain them.

Section 308 provides that no sitting President, Governor and their deputies can be prosecuted, imprisoned or compelled to appear in court on civil or criminal matters. So, ab initio, the President of Nigeria, invested with so much power, is not expected to be responsible.

He has immunity from prosecution in his personal capacity for any wrong acts of omission or commission that he may commit whilst he is in office. In other words, the Nigerian President is infallible and can do no wrong whilst in office.

Even that segment of his Oath of Office, wherein he promises that, “I will discharge my duties to the best of my ability, faithfully and in accordance with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the law…” is, at best, a moral obligation.

If the next President chooses to be as irresponsible and insensitive as the current government, led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), and the citizens are made to face scarcity of petrol and cash simultaneously as obtains at the moment, Nigerians may just be in for another round of sufferings if they choose wrongly again.

Nigerians do not need another nightmare of the proportion of a government that always appears to be absentminded. What Nigerians need is a President, assisted by an ideologically committed National Assembly, to deliver democratic values and economic prosperity.

If it is true that a people get the government they deserve, Nigerians had better be more intentional in choosing the next set of public officers. With this coming election, Nigerians must think, avoid violence, vote wisely and take their country back. This Hobbesian state of affairs must end soon.

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