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    Politicians in deft, desperate moves as 2023 nears

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    Jan 2, 2022

    The year 2022 is the eve of the 2023 general election when the 18 recognised political parties will be conducting primaries to field candidates for the various offices.

    Politicians are expected to increase their desperation in their quest for various elective positions in the months to come.

    They are already in deft moves to position themselves for electoral victories.

    As expected, there would be alignment and realignment of forces through the common option available to many Nigerian politicians; defection from one political party to another and even merger or formation of new political parties as the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC) recently disclosed that over 100 associations have applied to be made political parties.

    Experts predicted that there would be a rise in political activities, more defections, and establishment of new political parties in 2022, as they called for zoning of offices to checkmate marginalisation; and more youth inclusiveness, as well as living above board by INEC, the umpire.

    Christian Okeke, lecturer in the Department of Political Science in a Nigerian university, told BusinessDaySunday that Nigerians should expect a phenomenal rise in political activities, as the next general election draws nearer.

    He said that there would be political alignments, defections, campaigns, membership drive, and so forth, noting that political noise is expected to dominate the geo-political space, while there will be much political drama and thuggery.

    “Sadly, all manner of negative political participations, which characterised previous elections may still rear their ugly heads because it appears the process has not been cleaned up the way it is supposed to be. So, a lot is expected to happen in the area of politicking this year,” he said.

    According to the International Relations scholar, the year 2022 and the forthcoming 2023 general election are going to put INEC on the spot as a lot is expected of the Commission as its integrity and independence would be put on trial.

    “Of course, the electoral umpire has an opportunity to write its name in gold or mess up everything. Whether INEC will save our democracy or become an accomplice to collapse will be a concern for Nigerians. Bearing that in mind, it is expected that INEC goes beyond its usual mantra of ‘we are ready for the election’ to really tackle anticipated logistic and technical failures.

    “Many people still expect that INEC’s bimodal machines will fail on election day. As a result, it is up to the Commission to prove the naysayers wrong by test-running the machines ahead of the polls and going further to ensure that whatever would cause a hitch is nipped in the bud. Recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff are expected this year, so is the issue that has to do with security during the election. So, INEC has its hands full this year,” Okeke said.

    He also called on the electorate to play their role very well by turning out en masse to cast their votes, remain peaceful, and protect their votes, especially if security and credibility of the process are guaranteed.

    “I expect to see a large turn out on the election day because of many things that have happened between 2015 and now, except insecurity does not allow the electorate to show up at polling units,” the former journalist said.

    Read also: 2023 Election: Senator calls for equity

    While backing the agitations for power shift from the North to the South, Okeke said: “I support that power must shift to the South and South-East in particular. Actually, to clean the mess in the polity will not take north or south politics to be done. It is a very herculean task that awaits the next president because things have really gone bad. Don’t forget that insecurity alone is hydra-headed and multi-dimensional, not to talk of other challenges like poverty, poor education system, decayed infrastructure, hyperinflation, and other internal contradictions.

    “However, allowing power to shift will address one of the perennial challenges in the system, which is injustice. There is a need for fair play, equity, and fairness in the political calculations leading to the next election. Anything short of that will further draw the country backward and create more problems. After 2023 and the end of whatever tenure those to be elected will have, we can talk about shifting to the marginalised ethnic groups in the north and so on.”

    He expressed worry that there are no signs that youths will be given a chance in 2023 yet as the political elites have already skewed the process to perfectly and cunningly exclude the youths.

    “Think about the over N20 million nomination and expression of interest forms, how many youths can afford that? Has all the former this and that told you that they are retiring from politics for good? Youths beg them for virtually everything and the 2023 general election will not be an exception. They may allow a few youths in but bet me, the ratio will still be wide, comparatively.

    “The implication of excluding the youths is that the country keeps going in the same circle of infamy. Imagine a country that excludes her youths in governance? There is nothing that will make it not continue to become a laughing stock and wallow in underdevelopment,” the political scientist said.

    Idayat Hassan, director of the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Abuja, said Nigerians would see many politicians who lose out during the National Convention of either the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2021 and the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2022 defecting to other parties or establishing new parties.

    “The Nigerian election is 14 months away with the electoral management body, INEC officially releasing the timetable for the elections. 2022 will herald the official commencement of campaigns for the politicians. In fact, for most elected government officials, all emphasis will be on campaigns against governance.

    “Nigeria as it currently stands is already battling with disinformation, we can expect to see an increase in the disinformation produced in a bid to delegitimize opponents, parties, ethnic and religious groups,” Hassan said.

    She noted that INEC would not just be planning for elections but unfortunately will be faced by fake news from all quarters in an attempt to discredit the Commission and it will at the same time be planning a difficult election as the level of insecurity in the country increases.

    “This time around, it is not just the Boko Haram insurgency but also the banditry in the North West, the South East impasse just to mention a few. We need to reflect deeply on the difficulty in putting the Anambra election together.

    “All the challenges currently being faced by the country have made it imperative for citizens to do beyond voting based on primordial sentiments. This time, the citizens must ask what are they voting for, roads, security, electricity and not for N5000 and suffering for the next four years. I believe as Nigerians we have finally learnt that votes do have consequences,” she said.

    The democracy and development expert opined that zoning is important as it balances the winner-take-it-all political system, saying if not for zoning, moneybags and majority ethnic groups would control the government at all levels.

    She emphasised that: “At this point in history, where national cohesion is at risk, there must be zoning. It is not like zoning means jettisoning competency, but we can zone and also ensure that only competent people get the tickets.

    “For instance, I see no reason why the Presidency should not go to the South East, it is about equity and justice not a game of numbers. There is no way to promote loyalty to the ideals of Nigeria other than by sharing power with the ethnic groups that feel marginalised. At this point, let’s stop the number game, if the two dominant parties agree, then all is balanced. We must make Nigeria liveable and also workable for her people,” she further said.

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