We are disturbed by attempts by some Nigerians to shift attention of fellow citizens from very important issues in the polity. We are alarmed that despite the important issue about President Muhammadu Buhari’s health and its implications on the economy, certain individuals are playing politics with an otherwise serious matter, urging the President to seek re-election. While we join other well-meaning citizens of this country to pray for the quick recovery of Mr. President, we straightaway state that we do not think it is in the interest of the country to stampede him into taking a decision he never prepared for.
It is sad that every new day ushers in fresh issues that tend to drown previous important ones. Over the years, the ruling class appears to have capitalised on this and the seemingly fleeting reaction of the Nigerian masses to such issues, to engender more distractions in the system.
It happens so quickly that people no longer keep tabs on happenings in society. For instance, while many Nigerians are sad that the present government appears too slow to meeting the aspirations of the people close to two years after assuming power, and while the Nigerian people are still chewing on the issue of President Buhari’s lingering ill health and its multifarious implications on the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made a surprise announcement of the timetable for a new round of general election billed to take place in 2019. This, we daresay is a huge distraction. What the announcement has succeeded in achieving is to raise the consciousness level of politicians about the coming election. Elected office holders who by virtue of their election spend a term of four years, yet having done only one year and eleven months are already strategising and re-strategising for another election even when they have not delivered on the mandate given to them in 2015.
Although some analysts have justified the early timetable rolled out by the INEC, many observers, however, insist that the increasing calls on President Buhari to contest for re-election must have been given impetus by the Commission’s action.
Whereas robust debates and discourse on how to pull a greater percentage of Nigerians from the abyss of poverty and deprivation should be going on; whereas discussions should centre on quality of education in the country and how to ensure that every child that should be in school does so without limitation, and while the debates should centre on how to create jobs for the teaming unemployed able-bodied men and women, and on how to end the orgy of senseless killings across the country, energy is being dissipated on irrelevancies.
Some critics believe that the INEC announcement and the premature calls for Buhari’s continuity may have been sponsored to provide Nigerians a fresh issue to chew on and to divert their attention from the issue of the President’s ill health that has become a huge liability on the country.
Although some commentators say the rolling out of the timetable two years ahead of 2019 would enable the INEC prepare adequately (finance and logistics-wise) for the election, many observers believe it has the capacity of distracting those in government from concentrating on their duties in office. Already, since the Commission’s announcement, there are increased talks among politicians about 2019. What that means is that money voted to carry out projects for the good of the people could be diverted and hidden away by individuals who are nursing political ambition in 2019.
Ayo Opadokun, a former secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, and publicity secretary of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), condemned the early release of election timetable by INEC, saying: “INEC can continue to deceive itself by releasing electoral guidelines for 2019 general elections and its claims of adequate preparedness. INEC’s alleged improvements can best suit the politicians themselves, who are the only beneficiaries, not the Nigerian electorate”.
For those calling on President Buhari to re-contest, it is our candid opinion that the onus lies on the Nigerian electorate to either return or reject the President in the event he decides to contest again in 2019. We are more concerned about good governance today; tomorrow can take care of itself. Things must be done properly and in order, after all, we are not in a banana republic.