Home / News / Local / 2023 polls and Nigeria’s Third Force By Ebuka Ukoh
Mr. Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP) Presidential Candidate

2023 polls and Nigeria’s Third Force By Ebuka Ukoh

Nigeria gained political independence 62 years ago, and this came after nationalist agitations that had swept through the country. Africa then was mainly under colonial rule, and there were nationalists and freedom fighters all over the continent fighting for the emancipation of the African people. These notable nationalists in Nigeria include the famous Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, and Ahmadu Bello. The foundation for these nationalist agitations was self-rule, for the Nigerian people to govern themselves, manage their resources, and guarantee social and economic advancement. The subsequent events that characterised the state of affairs after the flag independence from the colonial rule were unexpected. The country’s leadership plunged the state into corruption, mismanagement of resources, and repeated usurpation of power by the military and consequent widespread poverty.

Several factors are responsible for this turn of events from leadership deficiencies at all levels of government to tribalism, religious extremism, neocolonialism, and political apathy, among others. Of these factors, one that stands out remains the failure of political leadership. Over the years, Nigeria has had several leaders, most of whom are not passionate about their calling or its many problems; they are more concerned about themselves, their parties, godfathers, and clinging to power and these leaders devise various means to achieve these goals.

Notably, before independence, Nigerian nationalists were one for one purpose – the liberation of Nigeria. After independence, they sponsored ethnic and religious divides among the people to maintain their hold on political power. There was a party for northern Nigeria known as the Northern People’s Congress; there was the Action Group, a predominantly southwestern party, and the Nigeria National Democratic Party, viewed as an Igbo party because of the presence of Nnamdi Azikiwe. These parties took on ethnic representation, and the country’s leadership quickly identified with these different parties, each having its objectives and backed by ethnic sentiments. Little attention went to the growth of the nation-state.

The maladministration that followed plunged the country into such chaos that it precipitated the intervention of the military. Although the goal of the military’s intervention was to create peace and oversee a transition to an effective civil rule, ethnicity and corruption had eaten so deep into the country’s fabric that other coups followed. There was no objective to the military takeovers; it was just aggrieved tribal and political loyalists who wanted a taste of power. The country continued on this trajectory, and even after the transition to civil rule, the situation only worsened. Nigeria has repeatedly been notorious as the world’s poverty capital, one of the top security-risk countries to live in, with poor infrastructure, widespread illiteracy, and other social malaise.

What an irony that a country with so much potential – talent and natural resources – could suffer so much despite the abundant resources! Nigeria indeed is blessed with several natural resources and human talents, but unfortunately, a failure of political leadership has crippled this potential. The reason for all these might be that the country is yet to experience a compassionate leader. A compassionate leader would not only empathise with the situation but would also be passionate and committed to resolving these challenges. But one would wonder how and why Nigeria, after 63 years, is yet to experience compassionate leadership.

The answer is not far-fetched and will come under the following sub-heads:

– Ethno-religious Sentiments: Over the years, these sentiments have been a ready tool in the hands of corrupt and dubious politicians. The ethnic divides in the country run so deep that certain citizens would rather not cast a vote than vote for someone of another ethnic group. The same goes for religion. The situation has grown so much worse that it would be difficult to unite the people towards encouraging and supporting a compassionate leader, irrespective of his tongue or creed.

– Corruption: Corruption in Nigeria today is both systemic and endemic. Government institutions are filled with individuals who are only after their gains, and because the agencies tasked with checking their activities are largely ineffective, these corrupt individuals carry on with their activities with impunity. These people would rather support the system because it favours them than align with a leader who is interested in the common good.

– Apathy: Many other people need more stomach for political participation. On several occasions, this demography of persons has been recorded to form a reasonable population of voters that would have impacted the electoral outcomes but who instead, stayed away.

These factors and several others can be counted among the reasons why the country has yet to experience compassionate leadership. However, a somewhat surprising turn of events tends to be unravelling in the coming 2023 elections. As against what was obtainable where two predominant parties would contest against each other. There is now a third force aiming to upset the status quo. The Labour Party (LP) and its presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi are having a far-reaching appeal among Nigerians of all ethnic groups and religious affiliations, and much more significantly among younger Nigerians. It is still uncertain what the elections will turn out to be. However, several polls conducted by international and local agencies have put the Labour Party’s candidate above those of the two other predominant parties. This acceptance is a consequence of the LP’s candidate’s record of uprightness and how he was able to manage the resources of the state he previously governed.

However we look at it, Nigeria has a chance of getting it right, a chance of electing a compassionate leader. The citizens must look away from the issues that have defined their previous political positions and consider the country’s current sorry state. Nigeria could be better, but it would only be so if the people are intentional about who emerges at the President this time around. As we head to the polls today, may our consciences win. God, bless Nigeria.

Mr. Ukoh, an American University of Nigeria (AUN) alumnus, is a candidate for the Master of Social Work at the Columbia School of Social Work, in the United States.

About admin

Check Also

Passport applicants task new NIS boss to improve passport offices

By Bukola Adetoye. Lagos, May 31, 2023 International travellers, passport applicants and other stakeholders on …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *