The Cost of A Truncated Democratic Process – Japheth Omojuwa

A lot has been said about Nigeria’s ‘bouncebackability’; the ability of our country to bounce back from every adversity. We have survived tough times over the last half-century. We went through the Western Nigeria political crisis of the early 60s; we came through a bloody civil war, we have since survived countless coups, ethnic and religious crisis, election-related violence and several colours of violence over the years. Through it all, we are still here; a young democratic nation, learning the ropes and tenets of democracy and looking to survive the times, to thrive through the years. 2015 brings us to yet another critical point.

The 2015 elections will determine the future of this country in more ways than one. Those muting and testing the public reception to a possible Interim National Government (ING) would be asking too much of our people’s patience. There is no reason whatsoever for such an undemocratic end to what is an upgrade on our democratic process over the last 15 years or so. What is the point of an ING if we are already going to the polls to elect our president? Two things are possible; Nigerians either re-elect President Goodluck Jonathan or elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. An ING is an indication of chaos and confusion; it should never have been part of the conversation and it must be stated, it is not an option.

History, by this I mean, the immediate and long term history of our country will not favour those who truncate this democratic process. Mind you, an ING headed by a civilian would not mean the process has not been truncated. It does not have to be a military (wo)man at the helm for it to be considered an affront on the people’s democratic rights. Let us not cloud a clear sky; our people are willing and ready to vote, the politicians and, increasingly, the military must let them. Anything short of making their votes count will plunge this nation into the worst violence unimaginable since the beginning of the civil war.

This is not a prophecy of doom, this is a statement of knowledge; if anyone or group attempts to subvert the will of the Nigerian people through election rigging or an illegal ING, the people will arise against such injustice. This is avoidable; as all we all need to do is let the will of the people prevail. It prevailed in April 2010 when Nigerians rose in their numbers to have the National Assembly make the then vice president, Goodluck Jonathan to become the acting president, in the wake of late President Yar’Adua’s illness. It must be allowed to prevail again. Desperation on the part of those who want to cling to power could be their greatest undoing if they employ means other than the democratic process to achieve same.

Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Taylor are relatively recent examples of what could be where the people are taken for granted. We must let peace to reign; we must let this democracy to breathe. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest democracy and it is about time we started showing the rest of Africa how to make governance work. Zambia just completed a democratic process after what many expected to be a constitutional crisis in the wake of the death of their president Michael Sata. If Zambia can do it, Nigeria can.

This government expended all that is left in its already depleted bank of credibility when it postponed the presidential elections to the 28th of March. No further postponement would be tolerated without being considered an attempt to provoke the Nigerian people to go on rampage.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has its work cut out. The Nigerian military couldn’t have been deaf to the mentions of “coup” in the wake of their telling role in the earlier postponement. If what happened on February 7– the military induced postponement – happens again, it would be considered a coup. That would open up the possibility of International intervention and would subject Nigeria to the possible control of foreign elements. We don’t need that but that future remains in our hands except we want to travel through the road Iraq, Syria, Libya and the likes are travelling through right now. We must do the right thing.

The Nigerian people must stay vigilant. This is not the time to trust the politicians or even the government to do the right thing; this is the time we must ensure they do the right thing and see that the right thing has been done.

It is our country.

© Japheth J Omojuwa @omojuwa

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