By Kayode Ketefe
The die is cast, the battle line is drawn, and the gauntlet is thrown! Within the next 48 hours, Nigerian electorate shall storm the polling booths across the length and breadth of Nigeria, armed with their Permanent Voter Cards, and with a mission to exercise their civic responsibility of electing a “new” president. The judgment Day is here!
The peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are ready to invoke their prerogative as sovereign peoples and decide who to lead them.
Who will wear the crown? Is it the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan or the retired Gen. Muhammdu Buhari? In this era, “Change” and “Continuity” are the slogans of the day, they have become the mantra which the two leading parties bandy about with passion. Ironically, both the said leading parties want the two oxymoronic terms simultaneously. The All Progressive Congress (APC) wants “Continuity” in Lagos State and “Change” at the presidential level.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) wants “Change” in Lagos State and “Continuity” of the presidency. Who said these are not interesting times?
Both Jonathan and Buhari have their areas of strength which the nation can benefit from and of course, each has its own respective Achilles’ heel. One interesting thing is that neither of them is new to Nigerians, one has ruled us before and the other is still doing. This should, at least guide us in the quest to exercise our votes wisely.
The respective saleability of these candidates is not however the primary concern of this piece, rather the intent here is to set agenda, concerning what we expect from our newly-elected President. (Yes that is the correct terminology, “newly elected” and not a “new” President.).
The first thing we will expect our next president to address is the problem of terrorism and insecurity.
The challenges we have traditionally braved on insecurity like armed robbery, ritual killing, extra-judicial murder etc., paled considerably against virulent onslaught of mass killings and bombing as bombs and IEDs keep exploding all over the landscape.
Thank Goodness that signs are on the wall that the problem is receding with the unprecedented onslaught against the hitherto invincible Boko Haram insurgents.
But we want a permanent end to this pernicious menace. We want a situation where terrorism will “NEVER AGAIN” be our perennial headache. We believe the battle against terrorism can be won if the right strategies and inflexible will are combined.
Next on the agenda is the imperative to implement our socio-economic rights which the framers of our constitution had the good fortune to insert in Chapter Two of that sacred document. Many Nigerians may be surprised to know that we don’t have to add a single clause even one jot to the constitution to realise the kind of fair, people-focused and just society we crave for. All provisions needed to realise this is already provided for under the heading tagged ‘Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy’ in the 1999 Constitution.
We will appeal to our next President to cast aside the apathetic attitude often being displayed by our rulers towards the provision of the said chapter. If the provisions are implemented to the letter and spirit. Nigerians will have access to good and qualitative education, adequate means of livelihood, infinite opportunities for suitable employment and facilities for leisure.
Many nations have done this and Nigeria has the means and resources and capacity to do same if the political willpower is there. Granted such a developmental state will not happen overnight, but we can be moving there gradually.
Thirdly, democracy is said to be the best form of government, so, when this so-called superior political system is entrenched in a socio-political clime, it is natural to expect realisations of some values reflecting the essence of human deepest cravings. These, ideally, should include civil freedoms and liberties, rule of law, social order and due process. Accordingly, we want our incoming President to place great premium on these time-honoured ideals.
Due process should be followed in all operations of government. If rule of law is entrenched where there is no sacred cow, it will be easy to fight corruption.
This brings us to the last point, the issue of corruption itself. Since the return of the nation to democracy in 1999, successive government have devised its own way to fight corruption, but the reports after of many credible and neutral international agencies have continued to show that corruption has not waned in the country.
Not that Nigerians living at home need any report to know that corruption has become endemic, the realities we face daily are enough evidence. But we want president that will emerge in this Saturday presidential election to take up gauntlet against corruption in an unprecedented ways because it is a battle that could be won.
But before all these, the elections themselves, beginning from the presidential one this Saturday, must be free, fair credible and above board. Professor Atahiru Jega and his cohorts must not fail to successfully ensure that genuine representatives of the people are installed in offices.
Ketefe may be followed on twitter @Ketesco
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