BY YAYA ADEMOLA
THE die is cast, there is no turning back. This expression was first used by Julius Caesar in 49BC when he led his troops across the Rubicon, a river in northern Italy, in violation of Roman law. As Caesar was reflecting on his decision, he said in Latin, “aleajectaest” – “the die is cast.” Apart from Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in February 12, 2022, staggered gubernatorial elections will hold in Ekiti and Osun in June 18 and July 16, 2022 respectively – a month apart. Again, 2022 is a forerunner to 2023 general elections as electoral processes and activities that will snowball into determining candidates of all political parties at all levels up to the presidency will be decided this year.
To have free and fair elections where votes count and electoral processes are not to be in doubt, stakeholders must play their roles. The foremost is the Electoral Act which stipulates guidelines and procedures for registration of voters, conduct of election, registration and regulation of political parties, electoral offences, conduct of party’s primaries, amongst others. However, because of provision of direct primaries for all political parties, President Muhammadu Buhari has refused assent to 2021 Electoral Act Amendments. His reasons, among others, are that direct primaries will be too expensive, susceptible to litigations and manipulation. I don’t want to dwell on the veracity or otherwise of Mr. President’s position; what matters is party internal democracy where the transparency and credibility of processes leading to electing party candidates are not based on imposition via thuggery and violence. If direct primary is expensive but will surely get us to the “promised land,” let it be. Over time, we shall nurture it and get acclimatised to it. While education is very expensive to acquire, we agitate for free and qualitative education for all. Though, we are far from achieving it, we cannot take ignorance as an alternative to expensive education.
Interestingly, there are other fundamentals in the 2021 Electoral Act Amendments like electronic transmission of results, strengthening of INEC, etc, which are suffering because of “direct primary” provision. These essentials need urgent attention and procurement of equipment on time for test run, for efficient delivery. If the President refuses assent, the National Assembly should do the needful by veto or amend the grey area and represent to the President. As such, I recommend an addendum that a certificate of psychiatric status of every aspirant to executive position from a renowned psychiatric hospital to determining his or her psychotic order/disorder. This should be included in the amendments as some of our ruling elite patterns and methods seem to suggest mental disorder. Delay is unhealthy.
In this electoral year, party faithful should not allow their personal urge and stomach override their sense of right choice. If you want freedom, you can’t deprecate agitation; if you want crops, you must not refuse to plough the soil; if you want rain, you must not hate thunder and lightning. It is better to genuinely collectively make a wrong choice than allow personal benefits becloud our judgement. Time will definitely make up for a better choice as politicians in position of power will want continuity, right from the halftime to the expiration of their term. This is the juncture where party faithful strength of choice will be rejigged. A wrong choice of candidate is not only a disaster for the party and its programmes, it is a monumental disaster to delivery of democratic dividends to the society at large.
As foods and other essentials are inevitable to man, so is politics as we shall continue to organise our society. The era of saying, “politics is a dirty game” is over. If it is dirty, we should all be involved to cleaning it up. Otherwise, we allow fools and charlatans to dictate and determine our economic policies and social wellbeing. We have collectively suffered for leaving conventional politicians to politics. Now is time for popular participation. A voter should not just go, vote and return home; he/she must be beautifully involved in every electioneering programme, campaign, etc. He/she must vote, monitor the processes till the end to make sure his/her vote counts.
Already, the politicians, especially, ones seeking re-elections, would have warehoused money to buy voters votes. “If you want the present to be different from the past, study the past.” – Baruch Spinoza. We cannot continue in the old way of misery and penury, poverty and unemployment which conventional politicians have tailored our lives and society. A mistake of four years tenure and characteristically, the politician will want 4+4. Two terms of eight years in five times is forty years wasted life under bad governance occasioned by wrong choices! We must wake up and struggle to chase away those politicians who have continued to deceive and take us for granted. Who does not know how to award contract with public fund and getting rebate from contractors at the end under the guise of doing us a favour? Our fortune or misfortune is in our hand. It is the type and quality of leadership we submit our mandates to that will determine the type and quality of life we live. We must shine our eyes this time around in making a right choice.