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Opinion

The Oracle: 2023 General Elections and a Fractionalised Electoral Process (Pt. 3)  

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

Election is the hallmark of democracy. Any democratic regime that does not conduct election will be regarded as a dictatorship. The trust and reputation built up on the electoral process impedes on its credibility, ligitimacy and public acceptability. The higher the level of trust and reputation built around the electoral process, the higher the acceptability of the leaders that emerge. The electoral process in Nigeria is in a state of total relapse, confusion and quagmire. To what extent has the reputation of the electoral system made Nigerians trust its process and output? How can Nigeria get out of the electoral process conundrum for credible leaders to emerge in the country? Today, these and many more will be discussed in our conversation.

ASSESSMENT OF NIGERIA’S ELECTORAL PROCESS/WHERE WE GOT IT WRONG AGAIN

The extent to which there is a missing link between good governance and credible electoral process in Nigeria is amply reflected in assessment of electoral process in the country. Right from the outset, it is essential not to be under the premonition that all is lost in the nexus between the mechanism of rule of law via electoral process, and good governance through the instrumentation of political leadership in the democratic structure in the country. Far from it. The emphasis on the failures in the above nexus is predominant because of the laagered effect of the electoral process on sustainable development and inability of the process to meet the yearnings and expectations of the people for a better life, a progressive nation and transition from the doldrums of developing nation (third world) to the fortress of a developed nation (first world). By analogy of medical prognosis, the essence of highlighting the causes and symptoms of the nation’s electoral process is to capture the saying that they that are whole need no physician, but they that are sick. If the Nigerian electoral process were to ventilate or portend prospects of good governance, there would be no need to choose and belabor the theme of this article.

CHALLENGES

Challenges to Nigeria’s electoral process are innumerable. They find expression in the assertion that elections in Nigeria since independence have gained an unenviable reputation for fraudulent practices; not always free and fair. The general saying is that since the colonial period, Nigeria has organized about 19 (nineteen) national elections all of which but only one, the inconclusive June 12 elections of 1993, were congenitally marred by electoral fraud. Electoral practices in Nigeria over the period show that elections in Nigeria have shared a number of common characteristics. First, they have been particularly characterized by massive frauds, violence, the intimidation of political opponents, the brazen subversion of the ‘sovereignty of the vote’ and controversy. The political actors including some government in power have had their own designs and used the instruments of the state in penetrating electoral brigandage, thuggery, violence and warfare. Secondly, while there has been continuity in violence and warfare, there has been lack of continuity in the political organizations through which both violence and warfare have been conducted. Thirdly, pattern of lack of continuity in the political platform used by members of the political class to compete for power is not simply that the names of the platforms keep changing; it is rather an individual politician could and did change party membership as many times as they wish. Fourthly, the sudden shifts and turns in political commitments and orientations have meant that the parties have not been defined by ideological positions that set them apart from each other. A fifth common denominator of elections and electoral practices is the increasing materialization of politics.  Election campaigns are not based on issues rather than on brinkmanship. There is no correlation between good election campaign effort and electoral performance.

The levels at which the challenges are discussed include the following:

  1. THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK

This consists mainly:

The Constitution

International Human Rights instruments/laws

Criminal Code Act

Electoral Act and Guidelines

Election Tribunal and Court Practice Direction, 2011

The Evidence Act

Case law 

As regards the Constitution section 1(2) provides:

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.

The subsection confers the right to vote and be voted for especially when read with sections 117(2), 117(4), 118(5) and 178(5) and 36 of the Constitution. This right is further assured by some international instruments. Article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 provides:

“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures”.

Article 13, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, provides:

“(1) Every citizen shall have the right to participate freely in the government of his country, either directly or through freely chosen representatives in accordance with the provisions ….”

Furthermore, Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, provides:

“Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

(b) 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…”

These rights, in addition to importing rule of law, afford opportunity for free and fair periodic elections where the will of the people is expressed. In APGA v Ohakim, (2009) 4 NWLR (Pt 1130) 116, the Court of Appeal insisted that “the purpose of holding an election in a democratic set up is to determine the wishes of the people as to who should represent them.” The challenge is the limited nature of the expression of the people’s will in practice during elections. Cases abound of violation of the Constitution and these international instruments.

The Electoral Act 2022 is the extant legislation to regulate the conduct of Federal, State and Area Councils in the Federal Capital Territory elections.  Its provisions include establishment and functions of Independent National Electoral Commission, and its staff; National Register of Voters and Voters’ Registration, procedure at Election; procedure for Election to Area Council; Electoral offences; Miscellaneous provisions. The States have their respective legislation on local governments often embedded in the respective Local Government Laws. The challenges in respect of the laws are centered on non-compliance and enforcement. There is controversy over the omission of electronic transmission of results in the Electoral Act of 2022. Interpretation of section 84(12) of the same Act on the ineligibility of political appointee as a voting delegate or aspirant have become a subject of litigation.

2. ROLE OF SECURITY AGENCIES IN ELECTION MANAGEMENT

Security is an indispensable part of electoral process and the principal security agency charged with maintaining internal peace and security is the Nigeria Police Force. Section 4 of the Police Act, 2020 provides for the duties of the Nigeria Police Force. In carrying out its responsibility in guaranteeing election security, the Nigeria Police Force has designed a number of programs. For example, the Force launched “Standard Organizational Guideline of Rules for Police Officers on Election Duty” prior to the 2015 General Elections under which the police are required to perform a general role before, during and after elections.

By the Constitutional and relevant enabling legislations, the military and quasi or para-military security agencies have no direct role to play in elections, except to aid civil authorities to restore law and order. In Nigeria, the military and para-military agencies are involved in election monitoring and discharging general security obligations.

By international standards security agents are supposed to be neutral and impartial in providing election security. They should not be engaged in politics or prefer any party or candidate, but in practice in Nigeria some security personnel flout these rules, allow politicians to harass, intimidate and use them.

There is the question of the role of INEC in providing security. INEC is not a security agency, but it can and does provide support to security agencies. It collaborates with security agencies. It has established the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) jointly chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Chairman of INEC.

Complimentary to the role of security agencies in election security is the role of Non-State Actors especially the civil society through CSOs, trade unions, professional bodies, faith-based organizations, traditional rulers, the media, etc. They assist in providing information on security challenges to security forces. In this era of social media, dissemination of false information and fake news is not ruled out.

3. ELECTION MANAGEMENT INSTITUTIONS

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) are the regulatory bodies charged with the management of elections at federal and state levels respectively. Section 153(f) of the Constitution establishes the INEC, while its composition, powers and functions are provided under Part 1 of Third Schedule of the Constitution. Section 15(a) of that Schedule provides:

“The Commission shall have power to –

(a) organize, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the President and Vice-President, the Governor and Deputy Governor of a State, and to the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each State of the Federation;

(b) register political parties in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution and an Act of the National Assembly;

(c) monitor the organization and operation of the political parties, including their finances;

(d) arrange for the annual examination and auditing of the funds and accounts of political parties, and publish a

report on such examination and audit for public information;

(e) arrange and conduct the registration of persons qualified to vote and prepare, maintain and revise the register of voters for the purpose of any election under this Constitution;

(f) monitor political campaigns and provide rules and regulations which shall govern the political parties;

(g) ensure that all Electoral Commissioners, Electoral and Returning Officers take and subscribe the Oath of Office prescribed by law;

(h) delegate any of its powers to any Resident Electoral Commissioner; and

(i) carry out such other functions as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly”.

Some challenges that are often ventilated concerning the electoral bodies include their degree of independence; integrity of the members/resident electoral commissioners; ability, willingness and readiness to conduct a free and fair and credible election as and when due; minimize electoral fraud and irregularities; ensure voter education, enlightenment and political sensitization; greater community involvement; disenfranchisement of voters. The outcomes of State Local Government elections give one the impression that if only candidates from a ruling party in the State win all the elections, then the SIEC is far from conducting credible elections. There is the all-important challenge of funding in terms of adequacy and timely release of funds. (To be continued).

FUNTIMES

“Dear Geography teacher, thanks for deceiving me. If the earth is rotating, what am I still in Nigeria? mtcheeeew” – Anonymous.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system.” (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

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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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