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OPINION: To clean up governance, we must clean up electoral pandemic

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Mr. Lugard Izoukumor

By Lugard Izoukumor

 

ON every June 12, Nigerians mark democracy day as a somber reflection on the state of good governance in Nigeria. Whilst, Nigeria for more than 22-year, has had uninterrupted democracy with Nigerians reaping the dividends of civil rule by any lens or coin the pendulum swings.

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Interestingly, in a zoom conversation I had with someone, tagged as “VOMO’23,” meaning: “Vote or Miss Out in 2023,” aimed at to encourage electoral participation: and in most part of the dialogue my friend and argument-partner framed a cliche, the “electoral pandemic,” reflecting the 1993 election as a watershed in Nigeria’s history, moving to the electioneering cycle of 2023.

My argument-partner poignantly explained that “electoral pandemic,” as “election-related matter(s) corrupt conduct or the abuse of state resources in election campaigns, in some cases has led to the winner becoming a loser. A hero (the protagonist) as the person in a story that is trying to bring the story forward, a villain (the antagonist) as the person trying to stop the hero from continuing.”

He said further, “electoral pandemic,” is on the rise given the fundamentally unjust system, which is an urgent pervasive threat to governance, prosperity, and security of Nigeria.

In other words, my friend argued that “to clean up governance”, “we must clean up” the “electoral pandemic!” And the solution to that he opined is “participation,” working hand in hand, feeding on weakened institutions, adding that without effective protection, elections can be a central component in cycles of systemic corruption. This is increasingly true as leaders use elections for some form of legitimacy for their rule. During elections, vote-buying, bribery, and the abuse of state resources are used to influence and coerce voters, he added.

He concludes by saying, “democracy is not a failed or failing model, but a system that must be perfected and protected. As part of that, democratic elections must be seen for what they are: Our greatest weapon against corruption and the ultimate measure of accountability for corrupt actors.”

Another friend interjected and said, “we must Vote or Miss Out in 2023”, pinpointed why INEC must put mechanisms in place to facilitate high levels of transparency around political funding and spending. This is where I advocated for President Muhammadu Buhari to keep to a policy of non-interference in the 2023 presidential elections, which will be a meaningful way to keep a bigger legacy, pointing to PMB’s Democracy Day broadcast of bequeathing a free, fair and credible elections.

Moreover, I advocated for public institutions that oversee political finance must be protected from political interference and have the authority to take on powerful stakeholders. These steps will strengthen the ability of Nigeria’s democracy to fight the pandemic, “to clean up governance,” that will clean up “electoral pandemic!” The failure of governance by Buhari’s administration in Nigeria, has continuously manifested in poor socio-economic performance, human rights abuses, widespread poverty, insecurity, corruption, etc.

However, history is giving President Buhari another chance to connect with the most marginalized demographics or populations (social, political and economic) because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, social and cultural dimensions. After, missing the golden opportunity of the End SARS movement, failure to implement the 2014 National Conference report and lack of political solution to the crisis triggered by separatist agitations in Nigeria. The 2023 general elections is a pivotal opportunity for PMB. Given that the priority of the 2022 election is: “To clean up governance, we must clean up “electoral pandemic!” And the solution is “participation,” which is reflection of this moment in history for the declining capacity of political leaders to recognize systemic risks such as “electoral pandemic….”

Izoukumor writes from Ogbe-Ioh, Delta state

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