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History Unfolds As Nigerians Go To Polls Today
Published Feb 25, 2023 IN Features, SPECIAL FEATURES,
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TODAY February 25, 2023, marks another milestone in the an­nals of our nation's journey on the democracy highway as eligible voters troop out to their various polling units to exercise their franchise on who steers the ship of statecraft as President of the Federal Republic and members of the National As­sembly, respectively, for the next four years.

Although 18 political parties got the nod of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the elections and some political analysts are of the opinion that the hottest contest is likely to revolve around the All Progressives Congress (APC), the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and the Labour Party (LP) among others, we are of the firm view that the ultimate decision lies with the actual lawful voters.

Definitely, the stakes are high and the poll provides a unique opportunity for the electorate, the political gladiators and the nation's political umpire (INEC) to manifestly demonstrate their belief and practical commitment to the en­thronement, protection and defence of democracy and the norms and values therein.

 Emerging political permutations have clearly indi­cated an unprecedented enthusiasm by the electorate to massively exercise their franchise in this and sub­sequent elections.

This could be gleaned from the massive rush by eligible voters for the registration and the collection of permanent voter cards (PVC) despite the prevail­ing biting obstacles posed by fuel scarcity, insecurity, hunger, unemployment and excruciating economic hardship across the country. No election in the na­tion’s history has been known to elicit this high level of interest locally and internationally. The campaigns have been competitive, an indication that citizens’ participation and the nation’s democratic culture are deepening by the day.

Already, INEC has assured all stakeholders of adequate preparations for hitch-free elections with prompt distribution of relevant electoral materials and men , the application of modern technology through the use of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BIVAS) as well as deployment of a total of 146,913 domestic and international observers, 404,10 security personnel for the conduct of the elections.

According to the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, of the 404,106 security personnel, the police will provide 310,973 personnel comprising the conven­tional policemen, the mobile policemen, the special counterterrorism unit, the special forces, intelligence response team and other sections of the police.

Others are the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence (NSCD); 51,000 personnel; Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), 21,000; Nigerian Correctional Service 11,336 (NCS); the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 9,447, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), 350, totaling 404,106 to police the elections.

By this template a minimum of at least two person­nel, drawn from the above agencies, will jointly man each of the polling units across the country.

While we commend the eligible voters, INEC and se­curity agencies for the enthusiasm and arrangements, respectively, so far, it is our hope and indeed all well meaning Nigerians, advocates of democratic norms , values and global best practices, that these laudable indices are judiciously deployed to fast track a true re­flection of the peoples will as expressed true the ballot.

Indeed, with the coming on stream of further technol­ogy into the electoral process, INEC is expected to be above board and resist all forms of manipulations of the process and ultimately the results of the polls.

For the electorate, the issues are crystal clear and no­body needs a pair of binoculars or the para-psychological somersault of Voodooists to read the hand writing on the wall.

Suffice it to say that this election clearly provides a unique opportunity for Nigerians, through the ballot, to choose the desired social, political and economic way forward for Nigeria and Nigerians. It is our historic oppor­tunity as a people to get the leadership puzzle of Nigeria resolved for the good of the citizenry.

Issues that are likely to shape where the peoples loy­alty at the polls tilts this time around rest squarely on the inexorable need to vehemently address insecurity, corruption, economic asphyxia, executive lawlessness, unemployment as well as lack of infrastructural facilities such as roads, potable water, electricity, food, shelter and health services.

It therefore, goes without saying that at this crucial moment, Nigerians more than ever, deserve leadership hinged on fit and proper pedigree that is economically sound, patriotic , transparent, popular, wise, detribalized, visionary, selfless, lawful, dynamic, energetic, resilient, tested, trusted and willingness to perform.

For this to materialize, voters should be wise, focused, firm and resolute on which side their ballot tilts. They should stridently resist any attempt to be swayed or hoodwinked by mundane issues such as tribalism, reli­gious bigotry, vote buying, culture of impunity, political mumbo- jumbo and thuggery.

The whole world is watching and the onus is now on the eligible voters via the ballot box to move the nation to an enviable position by voting wisely for visionary leadership that will guarantee the wellbeing, security of lives and property of the masses.

Anything to the contrary is analogous to subjecting the destiny of Nigeria and Nigerians to further and unmitigat­ed hardship inevitable descent to the brink of Golgotha. God forbid. We call on the political actors to show high degree of sportsmanship as there will definitely emerge winners and losers after today’s exercise. In all, we should learn to put the interest of the nation well above every personal or sectional aspiration or agitation.

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