Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, reminisced on his 2015 timeous concession telephone call to his then-rival, Muhammadu Buhari, and said it was a “collective decision to save Nigeria”.
Speaking at the Goodluck Jonathan 2022 Peace Conference themed, “Nation Building: The Role of Elections in a Multi-ethnic Context”, the former president, however, warned current political actors to tread with caution in the run-up to the 2023 general election, saying there first must be a country before their aspiration.
Also speaking at the event, a former head of state, General Abdulsalami, charged politicians to put Nigeria first before their ambition, as there could not be democracy without the nation.
In like manner, Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, has identified the lack of ideological politics as the bane of political parties in the country, which are no more than a special purpose vehicle.
At the same time, former president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, called on politicians to always reflect and be willing to concede defeat as Jonathan did in 2015, an action, believed to have salvaged the nation’s fledgling democracy.
But on a different scale, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, yesterday, called on political leaders across the country to step up and assuage the pains of Nigerians on many fronts due to poor governance and inefficiency or expect a surprise from the electorate in the forthcoming elections.
Jonathan, who in his speech, described hate speech and propaganda as a threat to democracy, reacted to comments that he saved Nigeria and bloodshed by telephoning now President Buhari to concede defeat, saying, it was a collective decision.
“We saved the country collectively,” he said, noting that the era of ballot box snatching was over, because of the introduction of electronic voting as contained in the new electoral act.
He recounted his experience in his hometown, where ballot boxes were snatched during the first and second republic, but maintained that “All these are a thing of the past because of innovations in the electoral act.”
Continuing, the former president explained, “First and foremost, there must be a country first. If you destroy a country, how can you be the president of Nigeria or governor?
“Those who want to be president, there must be a country first. So, those who want to be president tell your supporters that there must be a country first.”
Specifically to the youths, he said, “We urge you to discourage hate speech. Hate speech and propaganda remain threats to democracy. The young people should embrace good conduct.”
On his part, the former head of state, said, “It is pertinent to say there cannot be democracy without elections. The election is an important component of democracy. The forthcoming 2023 general election, therefore, represents an opportunity for Nigeria to consolidate its democratic success.
“While we celebrate the ability of this great nation of ours in its peaceful democratic transitions and all the actors, who play by the rules, it is equally important that we should not rest on the gains of old. As political actors, some have the habit of appealing to tribal, religious, ethnic and cultural sentiments.
“Therefore, as we are about to formally commence campaign for the 2023 general election, the ECOWAS calls on Nigerian political actors and their supporters to avoid the weaponisation of ethnic and religious biases that will jeopardise democracy, but to embrace issue-based campaigns that center on good governance and quality representation.
“Let’s always place Nigeria before ambition as elections come and go, but the nation remains. People predicted the collapse of the nation in the past, but the nation remains and this coming election will not be different. This is the time to consolidate our democracy. I call on all security agencies, INEC and others to put the nation first before their ambition,” he stated.
The SGF, in his submission, described the political parties as mere special utility vehicles with the basic aim of winning elections without an ideology that is value-driven towards good governance.
This, he said, was unlike the days of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), where Adisa Akinloye and Obafemi Awolowo, were in charge of ideology that could ensure good governance, even as there was political parties’ supremacy.
The SGF, however, said under the present circumstances, there was nothing in the political parties’ good governance but just to win the election.
His words: “The political parties’ only desire is to win the election. They have no value on how to ensure good governance. We need to address the formation of political parties to ensure that ideology. The parties should have control of party affairs and governance as were the situations in the second republic.
“The political parties should have the drive to ensure discipline and the force behind the ideology that would enhance value. There is the need for a re-engineering of the political parties and not just instruments to win elections,” he explained.
Chambas, spoke of Jonathan’s decision to concede in 2015, saying, “That single act saved shedding of innocent blood and this credibility that Jonathan is enjoying today.”
2023 matters a lot to Africa and West Africa in particular, because “If 2023 was successful without violence, and was credible, it will stabilize democracy in Nigeria and Africa, but if the contrary is the case, it will become a huge set back to the growth and democracy in Africa.”
He explained that a failed election would erode the leadership position of Nigeria in Africa, while a failed 2023 general election would intensify the Boko Haram and security challenges as well as an increase in the farmers/herders’ crisis.
The Bishop of Sokoto Dioceses, Bishop Matthew Kukah, on his part, said what Nigeria needed at the moment were leaders that could be trusted, adding: “We are looking for politicians and leaders we can trust. The real challenge is to rebuild Nigeria. We appeal to political to help us to trust them.”
Obaseki: Nigerians may shock political class, and parties in 2023
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has called on political leaders across the country to step up and assuage the pains of Nigerians on many fronts due to poor governance and inefficiency or expect a surprise from the electorate in the 2023 general election.
Speaking to journalists in Benin City, the state capital, Obaseki noted that Nigerians were fed up with the inefficiencies and failures of government officials and other representatives and might reject them if nothing was done to change the narrative.
He said the people were closely watching the political situation in the country and were ready to shock political parties with their new political orientation.
“I am sure that we are all watching the development in the country very closely, particularly,the evolving political development. It’s clear now that Nigerians are getting fed up with the government and those that represent them in government. We can see that in their reactions in social media and where their actions and emotions are headed.
“For us, as a government and representatives of our people, we would be hurting ourselves if we ignore the changes that are coming and believe that things are still the same. We will all be shocked as we are beginning to see.
“People are now beginning to realise that they need to demand more from people in government and those managing their resources and commonwealth; people will go out to vote their choice or interests. No political party today can beat its chest and say it will win or have a clear victory in the next election in the country.
“People are watching and the only reason why people will leave their houses to polling units is that there is a reason to either vote for or against something. If they have not benefited, they are not likely to come out on Election Day. People will ask questions saying,‘you have not done what you promised us; you have not delivered. People will react.
“Nobody will be spared. The new group will come in and will not spare the civil servants; they will put pressure on them and politicians will be kicked out of office. We are lucky in Edo State, because we saw it coming and have laid down the roadmap and anticipated it coming but our challenge is that many people don’t believe it, thinking we have time and things will still happen the way they usually do,” Obaseki stated.