The 2023 Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi campaigned among other policy slogans, on the possibility of a new Nigeria – “where the freedoms and potentials of our greatly endowed country and her youths will be supported to create an inclusive, sustainable, growing and progressive Nation.” Obi said
A new Nigeria is possible is a slogan of optimism. It is a statement of hope and an affirmation of trust. A new type of trust on the leaders and institutions of governance.
Since the former US president Donald Trump used “make America great Again” and a few Nigerian politicians adopted it to “make Nigeria great again”, several arguments were made on different fora on whether there was such a time that Nigeria was great that it would be made great again.
I wondered like many other people how Nigeria was ever great but reflecting on what Nigeria was pre-independence and post-independence and when Nigeria was practicing regional governance before the war, it could be understood that at some point in the life of Nigeria, things worked well and it was great.
So many years of military rule and many years of democracy have made Nigeria go down the tubes where it has become the poverty capital of the world, where electoral laws are abdicated and rigging and thuggery have taken over. It is now a country where the constitution is cherry picked by the Judiciary and where a person with moral baggage is installed to lead the country. Nigeria has become a country where the common man is ruled upon by the few money grabbers whose idea of governance is to gaslight the people while they loot the treasury.
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The last election was an attempt by the people to take back power from the ruling class. Believing the electoral reforms made was to be judiciously followed, but alas, INEC reneged on their own regulations.
The Judiciary was waited upon to right the wrongs, but it showed that it has also been corrupted leaving Nigerians to be victims of institutional malfeasance.
“Where the value and import of the recent Supreme Court ruling ends is where our commitment to a New Nigeria begins. Our mission and mandate remain unchanged. From the very onset, our mission has been more about enthroning a new Nigeria.” Peter Obi said in his press conference some days ago.
Enthroning a new Nigeria is daunting. Not in the face of the malaise and rot starting from the head. Each politician condemns and appraises the institution depending on how it favours him.
Going by the consistency of the statement by Mr Peter Obi, it calls for optimism but that is not the only requirement.
To start the enthronement of a new Nigeria, it must start with the mindset of Nigerians. They must do away with ethno-religious divide, cronyism and nepotism by enthroning merit. Nigerians are a group of people who bring “harm” to themselves and then turn around to complain about the harm. They must be made aware that they are the ones inflicting pain on themselves. This will go a long way in the reorganising of the electoral system where the INEC is completely unbiased and independent.
Without the sanctity of the election, a new Nigeria is not possible.
Another most important thing is the Constitution. From the blatant disrespect to the constitution by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal and the upholding of the same by the Supreme Court, the constitution is made to be a mere document.
The respect for the Constitution comes from the laws made and accepted by the people. The “We The People” introducing the constitution did not emanate from the people. The people must be involved in the making of the Constitution.
Without the named stumbling blocks, which is not exhaustive, the quest for a New Nigeria will be reduced to a mere slogan.
The Constitution, electoral laws and process must be respected and riggers punished. When the ballot is pure, leaders will have legitimacy and moral authority to apply reforms.