In the face of the foregoing, and given the events around the just concluded March 18th elections, Mr. President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu must quickly attend to the following as he…
●4th April 2023
The tension across the country days before the governorship and House of Assembly (HoA) elections was palpable. The 2023 general elections came to a crunch because local issues were now used to decide who superintends over the affairs of the states. It is no secret that in Nigeria, state governors wield a lot of powers, and are also covered by the same immunity from prosecution that the president enjoys. In most parts of the country, they have stifled both the legislature, judiciary, and local governments, thus becoming all-powerful. This is the reason state elections, particularly for the position of governor is very crucial, and often bitterly contested.
Generally, the elections of 2023 have been fought on various grounds. There were attempts in some quarters to place issues at the front of the campaigns. Issues such as ending the current level of unemployment, cash shortage, fuel scarcity, general economic downturn, and insecurity featured prominently in the campaigns. The leading presidential candidates went round Nigeria soliciting for votes and support, based on the promise to make the lives of Nigerians better in these areas. In the more local context, several issues related to states came up for debates as candidates went round local governments to campaign for votes and solicit the support of the people. Issues around municipal services, security, economic development, and zoning of governorship positions featured prominently as aspiring governors and HoA members went round to canvass for votes.
Apart from these issues mentioned, the election also threw up the never-ending tribal and religious tensions that have existed in the Nigerian polity for a long time. The elections witnessed religious, and tribal profiling of candidates, electorates and whole ethnic groups. In certain parts of the country, voters from certain tribes were not allowed to freely make the choice of candidate they wanted, as attacks were mounted on them. The elections also showed how weak some state institutions can be in the face of threats to voters who were ready and willing to cast their vote. In the just concluded state elections, there were reports of voter intimidation, thuggery and harassment in various places across the country, with victims feeling helpless in many instances. Fearing threat to their lives, some voters were seen with personal body guards and dogs on election day.
In the face of the foregoing, and given the events around the just concluded March 18th elections, Mr. President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu must quickly attend to the following as he assumes office on May 29th, 2023:
1. Condemn in no uncertain terms, the ethnic tension raised in certain parts of the country following the gubernatorial elections.
2. Direct that the instigators of these ethnic tension be arrested and prosecuted according to the law. This way, he will be seen as being distant from those who push the ethnic narrative. Such directive will give confidence to those Nigerians who feel threatened because they do not belong to the ethnic group of the indigenous people, or cast their votes differently.
The two areas highlighted above are low-hanging fruits that the incoming president can quickly pick to endear his government to the vast majority of Nigerians, and boost their confidence in his leadership. Interestingly, issues around ethnicity always hit at the core of what it means to be Nigerian.
Other areas that demand the president’s immediate attention are:
1. Ensuring that the CBN follows the court order that pronounced the old naira notes as legal tender till the end of 2023. Scarcity of cash has had a negative effect on the economy – stifling commerce at the medium and small-scale level, increasing the prices of commodities as sellers demand transfers above selling prices to cater for charges when they want to eventually withdraw cash from PoS operators, and generally inhibiting the ability of people to meet their daily needs for cash.
2. Constitute a very formidable team on security, to tackle the current state of insecurity which spiked immediately after the presidential elections. This will further douse the tension of Nigerians and boost their confidence in Mr. President and his government. Such team must quickly move to boost the confidence of the Nigerian Police and begin the process of police-citizen relationship to ensure confidence in the force.
These highlighted areas are current pain points of Nigerians. On social media, radio and television programs, these are their areas of discussion. Mr. President-Elect would have started off his time at the presidency with great zest, if he attends to these issues.
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