“Today, I confirm that after wide and thorough consultations spanning the six geo-political zones that make up Nigeria, with members of my family, my party, the opposition, civil society, the Private Sector, members of the Labour Unions, religious leaders, youths and student groups and our revered traditional institutions, I Goodluck Ebele Jonathan by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President in the forth coming 2011 elections, ” President Jonathan said in an address on his Facebook page. Continue reading…
In the event of a failed elections in 2011, would Nigeria capitulate? This is the question analyzed on Foreign Affairs Magazine by John Campbell, the former U.S Ambassador to Nigeria.
While America has every reason to be concerned about 2011 elections, Nigerians need to be too. The last decade has brought some stability—even though shaky at best; the general prognosis looks better for the country overall. Advances made in states like Lagos, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Rivers, and Cross River has created a pacifying buffer of hope for democracy in the land. All this may be wiped away if the election goes bad in 2011. Continue reading…
How do we get to the point of having free and fair elections when godfathers continue to control who gets a position? And, when that happens, how do we convince those in power to actually do something positive for the people? This is the question Solomonsydelle, a fellow blogger on Nigerian Curiosity, asked recently.
I will start by saying Nigeria will not get to the “point of having free and fair elections” in just one step, and neither can it happen via one route.
Also, critical elements needed to make the transition happen are better access to information (to the masses), and the presence of well-led and organized pool of democracy advocates. It has come to the point that Nigerians need to learn from the likes of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, and how they went about organizing their bases and championing their causes, because getting free and fair elections rely on just on the government, but all Nigerians, who must wrestle ownership of democracy from the hands of the few exploiting the system. Without this grassroots component, I doubt if the true meanings of democracy can be realized.
In addition, democracy advocates should also tap into success stories like Governors Tunde Fashola (Lagos), Rotimi Amechi (Rivers) and Segun Mimiko (Ondo) as tools and “democracy brands” to market in Nigeria. They must not fail to tap into the resources of existing grassroots structures like street and landlord associations, market women, transporters’ and students’ organizations to drive their agenda. These are ready-made entities waiting to be organized, tutored and assisted, and deployed into better relevance under the democratic system.
It is also important that advocates remain free of political party influence and quick to seize opportunities as they unfold. For example, the recent elections in Ekiti presented a great opportunity for advocates to “shock the system” when the Resident Commissioner, Ayoka Adebayo, resigned.
Nigerians were waiting to know what went wrong, and it was a major blunder that the Commissioner Adebayo appeared alone at the INCE office -– without support or security from the civil society, which could have used the moment to as display of force.
How about 40-50 lawyers and advocates showing up at INEC office with the Adebayo, and insisted on being present with her during the meeting with Iwu? Even if Iwu refused, there are ways the conversation could be recorded, discreetly, Nigerians need to know what happened behind that closed door. The more information (intelligence) the better prepared people are to fight for democracy.
I need to ask one question though…
How many of ‘us’ will be ready when called upon to step up, engage and contribute to activities strengthening democracy in Nigeria — and I don’t mean the all-too-easy proselytizing/ranting/complaining/ seen on newspapers and on this blogs and others?
It is a bliss to read the Nigerian Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, ponder over electoral fraud in Nigeria, asking , “what can we do to end this shaming cycle of electoral fraud?” This is a question that I have asked and discussed on this blog as well.
Professor Soyinka proffers some answers to the topic using Edo state as a case study – where the Appeal Court had to overturn an election recently, a legal decision that took 19 months to be pronounced.
The time calls for fire and brimstone!”, Soyinka states, “election rigging so costly to the perpetrators that it is not worth their while. Offer them, not a vision, but a taste of hell. Right here, on earth.”
He went on…’if there are means to bankrupt such high-and-mighty felons, make them forfeit their possessions – along similar measures to those that are applied to drug barons – these options should also be pursued.”
The guilty would be compelled, for a start, to pay the entire cost of the Tribunal proceedings, including legal and other costs incurred by the vindicated appellants. All known assets of the guilty will be seized, the costs of both Tribunals and Commissions deducted from the sale of such assets.
Those who connive with electoral criminals and break their oath of office – police officers, military personnel, returning officers, other staff and overseers, all the way up to directorate level within the commission – the penalty for any form of aiding and abetting should be imprisonment without the option of fine.
How can these measures be implemented? A question Soyinka not only asked but answered:
The answer is that we are not looking at a solution that will be effected within the next month or year.
The preliminary stage is the setting up the commission – or special courts – for criminal prosecution. The Tribunals’ case-books are routinely filled with evidence of just who did what, and how, and if some of those miscreants are sitting in any of the Houses, or in any governorship lodge, then obviously the rest is up to the electorate. Indeed, those who oppose any measures for the drastic sanitization of the electoral process should be marked down for the day of reckoning at the next elections. Any member of the civil society who believes that he or she is not required to be part of this corrective exercise has already succumbed to the blackmail of power and impunity, and cannot be considered part of the affected polity. It is up to the people to dislodge, in the most humiliating manner, the guilty or collaborating, from their undeserved; positions.