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Opinion

The Oracle: 2023 General Elections and a Fractional Electoral Process (Pt. 1)

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

Democracy has become globally accepted by the international community as the system of government applicable to a modern state. Election, being the instrument through which inclusive and effective representative leadership is constituted, is the lifeblood of modern representative democracy. This underscores the indispensability of credible elections, for just as elections impact on governance, so also governance impacts on electoral conduct. The issue of free and fair elections is a recurring decimal in Nigeria’s attempts at sustained democratic governance. Several problems are associated with conduct of elections in Nigeria. According to the Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the electoral process in the country faces many administrative, political and attitudinal problems that have consistently challenged meaningful, open and democratic elections in Nigeria. This is sometimes taken as failure of the electoral system and practice of politics in the country. Nigeria merely practices Electionocracy – a system whereby Nigerians turn up at a 4 year interval ritual to elect or select their leaders.

There is therefore, the need to inquire into whether the electoral system has failed, the extent to which it has failed and factors responsible for its failure. I will here avoid the temptation of engaging in polemics and chronicles of the ills of specific elections in Nigeria. My approach is to have a robust and balanced discourse that can contribute to the pool of knowledge of how to overcome elections malpractices and problems associated with governance. How do we achieve good governance by the rule of law through a credible electoral process. What is the missing link in the process, rule of law, leadership, clean electoral process, good governance and development? Where did we get it wrong again? What are our recommendations as well as the way forward towards the 2023 general elections.

CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK

A number of terms, although commonly used, have to be defined they are;

Election, electoral system, electoral process and credible electoral process, and Rule of Law.

ELECTION AND ELECTORAL PROCESS

“Election” deals with means by which representative democracy is effected. It is a process, a system and a procedure – all combined. It is less of a single event, but more of a process. Election is regarded as the formal process of selecting a person for public office or accepting or registering a political proposition by voting. It is a process by which leadership is instituted and political mandate and authority are conferred. Thus, election is seen as a process of choosing a leader, leaders, parliament, Councilors and other representatives by popular votes. By this process, the electorate is provided with freedom to choose their leaders and to decide on public policy.

Election, ideally, is a process of guaranteeing popular participation in governance by citizens. An electoral system is a system which allows institutional procedures for the choosing of office holders by legally qualified persons. This includes a “complex of rules and regulations that govern the selection of office holders”. According to Umezulike, “The electoral process … entails the selection or election of people into positions of leadership. The electoral process comprises all the constitutional procedures, arrangements and actions involved in the conduct of elections. It includes the suffrage, the registration, the right to contest elections, electoral competition between rival political parties, the body charged with the conduct and supervision of election, the method of selection of candidates, method of voting, the actual conduct of election, the determination of results, trials and determination of election disputes, electoral malpractices and their consequences”.

“Electoral process” thus refers to the series of laws, rules, guidelines, actions, operations, activities, changes and methods by which opportunity is given to legally qualified citizens to participate in the choice of their leaders and decide public policy. An Electoral process is said to be credible when it is free, fair, transparent and possesses integrity; gets the right people into power, and guarantees the provision of basic rights, amenities, security and development for poor individuals and communities in Nigeria.

RULE OF LAW

The rule of law is put into effect through a constitutional system by which power is separated and balanced among three branches of government. “Rule of law” is a philosophy of both ancient and modern times. Exponents include Plato, Aristotle, Bracton, Montesquieu, John Locke and Sam Rutherford. It found expression in the Magna Carta (1215); the French Revolution (1879); the American Declaration of Independence (1770); and the Bolshevik Revolution (1917), as well as in the Constitutions of several modern states.

The modern formulation of the rule of law was based on the constitutional theory of Albert Venn Dicey, Professor of English Law at Oxford University, wherein he devoted a large part of his book, Law of the Constitution 1885. There, he identified three characteristics of the rule of law namely:

“First it means, the absolute supremacy of predominance of regular law as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power and excludes the existence of arbitrariness or even of void discretionary authority on the part of the government.
Secondly every man whatever be his rank or condition is subject to the ordinary laws of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of ordinary tribunal (i.e. courts).

Thirdly whereas in many countries private rights such as freedom from arrest are sought to be guaranteed by a statement in a written Constitution of the general principles relating thereto in England, these rights are the result of court decision in particular cases which have actually arisen”.

In his Introduction to the study of “Man and Constitution”, Dicey stated:
“…in the first place, the absolute supremacy or predominance of regular laws, as opposed to the influence of arbitrary power, and excludes the existence of arbitrariness, of prerogative, or even wide discretionary authority on the part of the government, Englishmen are ruled by the law, and by the law alone, a man may with us be punished for nothing else. It means again equality before the law or the subsection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts. The rule of law in this sense excludes idea of any exception of officials or others from the duty which govern other citizens or from the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals”.

The International Commission of Jurists made efforts to give the rule of law effective meaning which was actualized in the Declaration of New Delhi 1959; and which was reaffirmed in a similar conference held in Lagos in 1961, with special reference to Africa as follows:
“The rule of law is a dynamic concept which should be employed to safeguard and advance the will of the people and the political rights of the individual and to establish social, economic educational and cultural conditions under which the individual achieve his dignity and realize his legitimate aspirations in all countries whether dependent or independent”, and finally declared in Lagos conference:
(i) That in order to maintain adequately the rule of Law all governments should adhere to the principle of democratic representation in their legislatures.
(ii) That fundamental human rights especially the right to personal liberty should be written and entrenched in the constitution of all countries and such personal liberty should not in peace time be restricted without trial in a court of law”.

The concept of the Rule of Law has also in recent times been endorsed by world bodies. For example, Article 25 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, provides:
“Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:
to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; to vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections, which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors; to have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country”.

This connotes the participation of citizens in the affairs of governance of their countries either directly by representation and which involves electing the representatives in free and fair elections.

The basic principles of rule of law include superiority of law to arbitrariness. By this, all individuals and institutions, public and private, and the State itself, are held accountable to the law, which is supreme. Rule of law is further embedded in constitutionalism, that is, restraint of governmental power, to prevent those in authority from being corrupted by power. Another tenet of rule of law is safeguard and advancement of the will of the people. This is achieved by requirement of adherence to the principle of democratic representation. Equal enforcement and equality before the law constitute a central tenet of rule of law. Rule of law therefore presupposes adherence to due process. It recognizes and guarantees of the political rights of the individuals. This principle allows for the guarantee and safeguard of fundamental freedoms and liberties of people. Rule of law is also further encapsulated in independent adjudication of the law, fairness in the application of the law, access to justice, and the ability of people to seek and obtain a remedy through informal or formal institution of justice. Separation of powers and participation in decision-making are other components of rule of law.

There are elaborate provisions in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that deal with, and guarantee the observance of the rule of law in the country. Nigeria is a signatory to various International Conventions, Treaties and Charters, of which promote and sustain elements of the rule of law. There is also a plethora of judicial decisions on applicability of the principles of rule of law in respect of the country’s constitutional democracy.

The rule of law is the very antithesis of arbitrary and unbridled government power. It brings reason, fairness, and equality to the law. In virtually all nations today, the rule of law finds its quintessential expression in constitutional provisions which state that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor be denied the equal protection of the laws. These provisions, which are the direct descendants of the Magna Carta, establish the rule of law as the constitutional right of all persons. (To be continued).

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“I believe that democracy is about values before it is about voting. These values must be nurtured within society and integrated into the electoral process itself”. (Tzipi Livni).

 

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Kayode Emola

What is happening to the Yoruba Nation Struggle? Is sovereignty still an attainable possibility? These questions and many more are on the lips of enthusiastic Yoruba begging for answers whilst awaiting the birth of their new nation. Rightly so, given that many of us in the trenches promised that there would be no 2023 election in Nigeria, as we would have already left the country. Alas, it is less than a month before the 2023 general election is scheduled; only a miracle will be able to thwart the election now.

How did we get it wrong? Why haven’t we got out of Nigeria by now? I don’t think this is the appropriate time to start apportioning blame. However, I do believe that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, then we are bound to repeat them again and again. We must be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, those hell-bent on causing schisms amongst the advocates of independence are not only impairing their work, they risk jeopardising the entire struggle if care is not taken.

The solution to the Yoruba question is hiding in plain sight, yet it is so simple that only a few can decipher it or see how to implement it. Rather than focusing on the practical steps to get us out of Nigeria, some people are now being cajoled by meaningless slogans. Consider the claims of the Ominira Yoruba 2022 team, that if 5 million people signed a petition in support of independence, Yoruba would be able to exit Nigeria and nothing could stop it. The petition surpassed its five million target and yet nothing happened.

So Ominira Yoruba 2022 announced that they would make a declaration of independence and this would be the catalyst that would bring us our own nation. Yet no plan was put in place on how this was to be implemented aside from flippant announcements on Facebook and other social media outlets. When this failed to materialise Yoruba Nation, they then came out with Reclamation, and following its fruitlessness, then Occupation. The truth is that, no matter how catchy a slogan we produce, if we don’t have a concrete plan on how to get Yoruba out of Nigeria, we will continue on this trajectory of big grammar inside empty cannon.

The first step in achieving anything in life is to ask if anybody in the world has done the same thing already. If so, you can learn from them and apply their methods to your situation. If there are none, then by all means go ahead and invent the wheel, do some trial and error and work out a strategy to get you to the finish line. However, in this situation, there are many countries whose precedents we can learn from, including Norway/Sweden, South Sudan/Sudan, Czechoslovakia and finally, former Yugoslavia etc.

Whilst some of these countries exited peacefully, some had extremely violent departures. However, the key element was that they were determined to exercise their right to self-determination. The unifying feature that they all shared was that they all declared their independence from the larger, and dared to face the consequences. For some countries like South Sudan leaving Sudan it led to a long and bitter civil war; in contrast, when Norway left Sweden, the latter accepted the declaration of the former and they parted peacefully.

If the only option that allows for every indigenous nationality to exit Nigeria is through the declaration of independence, then the simplest and most logical route would have been to bring everyone together in consultation. In this scenario, any declaration of independence by one indigenous nation in Nigeria could be followed immediately by simultaneous declaration from other regions. This would dissuade the Nigerian government from attempting to take a stand against these nations or starting a war that they could not possibly sustain.

In light of this, what should we now do? We need to organise ourselves into formations, working towards the greater good. Those in the diplomatic circles need to intensify their diplomatic outreach to those countries around the world that will be sympathetic to indigenes’ independence. Whilst those in humanitarian circles need to embark on massive campaigns with humanitarian agencies, explaining the reasons why Nigeria must be dissolved

If we all come together with this resolve, then Nigeria would have no option but to let us go because we would have the support of our people and the international communities. Undoubtedly, we will not achieve unanimous acceptance from every country, or even across own our people; but those who do believe in the cause must press on until victory is achieved.

Therefore, my advice to those still being deceived by slogans and jamboree is this: open your eyes and see that, unless we do the work, no amount of camouflage or deceit can bring us out. We need to be ready to be open-minded, to put in the effort required to achieve success. Yoruba nation *will* come, but not by lies of ¬_”a tí gbá”_ (“we have collected it”) or “God has done it”.

Even if God has said Yes, if we fail to put in the necessary work, we will remain on this mountain for a very long time. The year of 2023 still has a long way to go: we can work towards something meaningful, or we can continue to deceive ourselves that Yoruba nation will be served to us on a platter of gold with no effort on our own part. A word is enough for the wise.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Power of Imagination

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Success and failure start from the mind. The human mind is like a rubber, the more you stretch it, the more it expands. The human mind is the brain, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. We all have the power to change the course of our life without allowing us to be victims. This is because the greatest power God gave us at creation is freedom and choice. Just like you have the power to think positive thoughts, you also have the power to think negative thoughts. It should be noted that whatever you focus on expands.

It’s quite unfortunate that many of us don’t know how we can use our mind to attract opportunities, if properly stretched. For the human mind to work at optimal capacity, it must be capable of using the power of imagination. According to Napoleon Hill, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it. The right question we should ask ourselves is if we are using the power of our imagination.

Imagination takes several forms. The human mind can be artistic in nature, it can be creative, and it can also be challenging. The mind will only work on how you program it. If you program your mind to think like a leader, it will be activated, if you program the mind to overcome challenges it will be activated, if you program the mind to either think positive or negative thoughts, it produces the desired fruits for you.

You may be wondering where the power of imagination comes from? The power of imagination starts from the mind. To understand how the mind works, you have to look at the brain. The neocortex and thalamus are responsible for controlling the brain’s imagination, along with many of the brain’s other functions such as consciousness and abstract thought.

One may ask, is imagination the same thing as intelligence?  One can imagine something, but don’t take proactive steps to implement it, but the man who takes actionable steps can be regarded as an intelligent man because he got the inspiration and knows what to do. According to Albert Einstein, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. This is a fact because the true intelligence level of an individual is not dependent on the facts a person knows but on how he applies them creatively to solve problems in the world.  Albert Einstein further stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The power of imagination cannot be overemphasized. One of the distinguishing traits between wealthy men and the poor men is their mindset. A big difference between a rich mind and poor mind lies in how they process information. While rich and wealthy minds have a positive and growth mindset, poor men have a negative and fixed mindset. While the growth mindset sees problems as opportunities to make impact by solving them, fixed minds see problems as obstacles to making impact. While rich and wealthy minds spend money to invest, poor minds spend money to impress. While rich and wealthy people spend after saving, poverty-stricken minds save from the remnant of their expenses.

This power of imagination works in different ways. Sometimes, it comes like a vision, a revelation. inspiration or even feelings. This imagination can be something you would like to change, or a cause you would like to work on. When you get this prompting, the best thing you can do is commit it to prayer and believe in it especially if it’s a revelation or vision you have been shown. It might look so big and impossible to attain. Whenever you feel this way, just know that you must activate your growth mindset.

Wealth creation starts from the mind. If you want to be successful in any craft, you must envision it in your mind. Most of the great people if not all the great people we celebrate in the world utilized the power of imagination to create a product. If you want to be rich or start a business, you need to take the bold step, if not, you’ll remain where you are.

Nobody can stop a person whose time has come. Nobody can stop you; you are the only one who can stop yourself if you doubt yourself or tell your dreams, vision, or ideas to the wrong person. The wrong person in this case can be your parents, friends, mentors or even your spiritual leader. Don’t get me wrong, these people may not be bad people, they may not understand the calling or vision you had. They may not even see you as the person capable of doing it because you don’t look it. They may be speaking from their experience which may not be your reality. Let me tell you, if God wants somebody else to get the revelation or inspiration, he will put the imagination in their mind. Just to encourage you, God does not call the qualified, he calls the unqualified and then qualifies you.

In conclusion, the power of imagination is a very powerful and creative tool a progressive mind can use to excel in life if properly activated. This is because nobody knows you more than you know yourself.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Be Empowered to Remain in Power

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“When you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to “MANifest”! Chase excellence, and success would chase you pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

 Commitment has been described as dedication, steadfastness, allegiance, faithfulness or loyalty to a course, and individual, group or a supreme being. It is about giving one’s self to a course with success as the only option. Commitment binds you irrevocably to a course you believe in until success comes. It is not the same as mere involvement, but dedication to seeing a course(s) completed or fulfilled to cause an effect or impact either within one’s self, others, corporates and the world at large.

The world is filled with peoples. Anybody can be involved. Being involved in an activity that involves other people does not make you part of a team. As a matter of fact, it only takes a number of people involved in working together to have a group. You must understand that a group is absolutely not a “team”. The difference? In a group, people are involved in activity(s). In a Team, people are committed to a process and a goal. The difference between commitment and involvement is known by the difference in the “omelette and “corned beef”. In the making of omelets, the chicken is involved, in the corned beef, the cow is committed!

Commitment is the secret to the success of the postage stamp. To get the letter to its destination, it must first commit to the envelope. After that, the rest is a matter of time. A train gets to its destination because of its commitment to the rails.

Commitment operates in five major levels which would be expatiated below:

  1. Commitment to God (The Creator that gives to all that gives and receives)
  2. Commitment to a Course for a Cause

iii.              Commitment to Process

  1. Commitment to People
  2. Commitment to yourself

Commitment to God

Those who have discovered themselves in God have no problem committing to Him. Those who sideline God in success ventures will find out soon enough that it is the pathway to “frustration” and an insignificant “death”.

Commitment to a Course for a Cause

You must always remember that, you were never created to simply pursue wealth and all trappings of the worldly successes. After all your bills are paid, and you have a spill-over, what next? Highly successful and effective people, first of all, find a higher course for a greater cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives if need be, then throw themselves wholly into it. The principle is that, if death does not scare you, the possibility of failure cannot! As the Bible rightly said, “those who keep their lives lose it, while those who lose it, find it!” The other name for it is significance or relevance. Make money in order to enhance your platform(s) for significance or irrefutable relevance. At a recent time, Bill Gate has committed time and resources to finding solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication in Third World countries. What he did caught the attention of Warren Buffet (who wasn’t reputable for charity), the World’s Second richest man at that time. This made him donate the sum of $37billion (US Dollars) to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When asked why, he answered, “Because they know how best to give it away better and faster than I can.”

Commitment to a Process

Everything in life evolves. The only tree that grew to full stature in one day died the same day! Ask Prophet Jonah in the Bible. If you cannot commit to a process, you will forfeit the promise.

To master your skill in life, there is always a process of apprenticeship. Permit yourself to fail…but don’t remain a failure. The Olympic medalist who won the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds was only celebrated for what he had invested years of consistency and hours of practice to.

Tiger Woods had played golf as a child and he had always nurtured a vision to win every championship in golf. So he started to work towards that, easily.

The father (being a good Lawn Tennis Player) of Serena and Venus Williams (The World Lawn Tennis Champions) had coached them to always win since they were very young.

What the world celebrate today in these people is actually the process they had committed too long before they started winning laurels.

Commit to Yourself

Budget for self-development. Your greatest investment is the one you make on your personal development. When you are right, everything around you will be right!

Things don’t happen because you chase them to happen, rather they happen become you have become a center of attraction that commands the necessary attention. For instance, when you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to MANifest! Chase excellence and success would chase you, pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”

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