I Want To Vote For A New Nigeria Of Strong Institutions | Remi Raji-Oyelade

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    Once I put my reflection on the upcoming presidential elections in my country on my WhatsApp status, a number of responses came flying in. There were those who agreed with me that “indecision is almost like a virtue” and that, for some of us, confusion has taken the better seat than conviction about who to vote for among the three leading contenders. I had wondered, how would I surrender my rights to any of the triumvirate of doubts?

    But there were those who genuinely desired to encourage me to vote for their candidate and took the extra effort of asking why, why not, why would I opt not to exercise the civic duty of voting?
    It is the impression of this group that I decide to correct in a moment.

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    In the buildup to this particular election, the major political activities were the primaries which resulted in the confirmation of a number of presidential candidates. After the primaries, and up to the campaign trails, there seemed to be little difference in the mission of the major political parties. There were no clear-cut, originally thoughtout manifestoes; no engaged policy statement primed by particular ideologies; no sustained debates; only pomp, pageantries and gaffes, fake ops, hired mobs and louts, violence and all actions that discourage the endearment of true and lasting democracy.

    In the buildup, I saw a very recent video clip showing vandalised buses of traumatised citizens in LP t-shirts, somewhere in Lagos. I saw a couple of scenes in the eastern part of the country where APC and PDP vehicles were riddled with bullets, and the blood of innocent citizens shed on the altar of carrying the opposition party membership cards. I have seen clips of at least two of the candidates waxing tribal when they campaigned in their regions. I have listened to followers of each of the three major candidates express their sense of entitlement to Aso Rock, so brazenly that one could conclude that we are still just pockets of tribal nations within a country but under a flag and a contentious constitution.

    I realised that this round of election only comes close to affirm the contention that my country, a mere geographical expression, is still a potential nation on paper, an imagined nation.
    The campaigns so far, and the counter-reactions of one supporter against an opposition voice, have opened up our national flanks and exposed the real problem with the system and the people. The entirety of our election is in a tribal fix. Our main problem is that we are quick to point fingers at other ethnic groups for being the problem, whereas the problem is so refinely endemic that we do not see ourselves in the mirror.

    This is the reason why I felt it would be sheer waste of voting time, voter energy and voter hope to invest so much in a system that has been primed to fail every trial time since 1979.

    Therefore, the question to resolve the confusion is not who will you vote for, it should be what will you vote for?

    I want to vote for a new Nigeria of strong institutions, not strong men or messiahs.
    I want a Nigeria with strong viable regions or zones and a ceremonially representative centre.

    I want an Abuja without its Aso Rock; I want a federal centre of governance with regions as financial powers and contributors to the federation. I think a less bloated and ceremonial President will serve us well. I think that we need self-governance in the regions with Premiers or Governors-General as the heads of administration. The newly defined regions may be three or four, or six, but for now, Providence has given us three but we are not ready to try.

    In 2023, God has spoken in parables. _Since you are a people who will spill blood for your tribe, I shall design and give unto you each one of your own, and you must take them as your plague or as your gift._

    To the westwind, let Tinubu dance and sweep the floor
    with the power of his broom and brood
    To the wings and centre of the East, let Peter carry
    his crusade and every sigh will verify it
    To the North and from the very strips of great rivers,
    tell Atiku to stretch his dreams to the savannah

    Then allow them to run their regions in a 5-year rolling plan, as you dissolve into representative constitutional conferences for the birth of a true federal Nigeria.

    A little bird then whispered, I am of the West and I will vote PO. To this, I suggest different flights according to the fancy of the new tribe. Go ahead and do, if you are in Lagos and you like Obi, move east. If you are in Onitsha, and you prefer Atiku, fly North. But if you live in Kano and your man is Tinubu, swim westward.

    In short, I prefer a progressive return to the days of the regional governments. Strong regions, strong institutions and a consensual Centre, a federal system that is truly federal. In the centre, we must put an end to such wastages like the bi-cameral assemblies.

    Yes, it may be too late to achieve the kind of confederacies that some people wish and hope for. But it may also be too late to save the land from the disaster that lurks around the corner.
    In two weeks hence, there will be some tremors; some elections will be inconclusive; some diehards will cry foul and promise hell upon the land; no one knows the Ritcher scale of the earthquake that cometh.

    Remi Raji
    14.02.2023

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