F or long, the Nigerian nation has been on a backward march. This retrogressive movement was engendered by the numb, visionless and epicurean administration of General Yakubu Gowon. For Gowon, the problem of Nigeria was not how to make money, but how to spend money! Rather than channel Nigeria’s excess resources into the exploration of science and technology, development of the rural country which Nigeria was and has continued to be and saving for the future, the Gowon administration opened conduit pipes like the frivolous FESTAC 1977 for squandering Nigeria’s treasury which was bursting at the seams with money from the oil wells.
I am convinced that the problems of Nigeria as a nation began with the discovery of crude oil in 1956 at Oloibiri in Bayelsa State. It was crude oil that gave Nigeria access to so much money without demanding commensurate industry or diligence. This anomaly killed the drive for excellence, ingenuity, vision and proactivity in Nigeria; and the lack of these formed the foundation for corruption which is the bane of the nation.
Currently, corruption has graduated to a culture in Nigeria and this is evident in this generation where wealth without history of industry is celebrated openly even in places of worship. This has changed the orientation of many Nigerians who see public service as opportunities to steal. Policy decisions and implementations have been subjected to the whims and caprices of those in leadership positions while public interests have abandoned.
This is why public institutions have collapsed to the extent that offices of the Ministry of Power run on power-generating sets; the president, governors, ministers and officers of Ministry of Health depend on foreign hospitals for healthcare; and the children of the president, state governors, ministers of education in Nigeria study overseas while Nigerian universities where the children of ordinary Nigerians study were locked for as long as eight months.
In fact, public institutions in Nigeria have collapsed. Nigerian leaders have not been accountable to the citizens whose mandate they hold. Nigeria today represents a classical irony in nationhood where many individuals are stronger than public institutions.
To seal the fate of the country, these powerful individuals who constitute Nigeria’s political elite club foisted an odd electoral system which bequeathed the elites with impregnable succession plans on Nigeria. Between 1999 and 2022, the members of the Nigerian elite club were able to transition from presidents, governors, etc. to godfathers who determined who became what from the grassroots to the presidency in Nigeria. The Nigerian masses were totally emasculated with their freedom of expression targeted for elimination as shown by the haphazard enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act and the stillborn Hate Speech Bill of the National Assembly. At a time the Nigerian masses seemed to have been conquered, God set confusion among the Nigerian political elites during the amendment of the Electoral Act.
Due to clashes of political interests between state governors and federal legislators from their respective states, the federal legislators inserted three clauses in the 2022 Electoral Act which have fundamental therapeutic impacts on the hitherto ailing Nigerian electoral system. These clauses included the bimodal voters’ accreditation clause, the electronic transmission of results directly from the polling units to the result portal and the abolition of manual accreditation and incident forms!
Nigerians, especially the youths, were encouraged by these landmark provisions in the Electoral Act 2022 which gave hope that thugs who had become critical stakeholders in Nigerian politics would have no roles in the 2023 general elections; and that the votes of the Nigerian electorate would count for the first time in the history of Nigeria! These revived the hopes and confidences of Nigerians on the electoral system. Consequently, Nigerians turned out in their numbers at the last lap of the continuous voter registration exercise. In the face of multiple hitches, many Nigerian voters registered and set the tone for the revolutionary transition that the 2023 general elections promise to be. For the first time, contestants for various leadership positions in Nigeria are truly appealing to the Nigerian electorate for votes. For the first time, no contestant is relying on political godfathers.
For the first time the masses seem to hold the aces in Nigerian politics. However, now that the democratic revolution necessary to save Nigeria from collapse has started, it is necessary to remind the Nigerian electorate especially the youths that no one should rest on one’s oars till votes are cast, sorted, counted and results properly entered and declared at the various polling units in every election. Pursuant to this patriotic exhortation, this piece hereby charges all registered voters to ensure the collection of respective permanent voters’ card (PVCs) as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
PVC collection has become critical because according to section 47 of Electoral Act 2022, the presentation of the permanent voters’ card at the appropriate polling unit is a mandatory requirement from each voter before the processes of accreditation and voting could be activated in the voter’s favour. Year 2023 is the time for democratic revolution and the onus of driving the revolution squarely rests on the Nigerian electorate. PVC is the weapon for the democratic revolution. Go and collect your PVC!