So That We Are Not Called “Shitholes” Again

Nigeria News takes a look at the recently conducted US midterm election as a lesson ahead of the 2019 election in Nigeria.

The US midterm election happened without much noise as the democrats won the majority seats in the House of Representatives.

President Donald Trump’s solace is that the Republicans is still in control of the senate. For eight years, the Republican dominated the House until yesterday when the Democrats took over, winning 218 seats.

There was no report that the US government deployed thousands of policemen or beefed up security for the peaceful election. The electorate were not induced. Thugs were not employed. Ballot boxes were not snatched. Electoral officers were not bought over.

The midterm elections in the US beautifies democracy. And I wish that the 2019 general elections in Nigeria could go peacefully without government deploying soldiers on the streets.

How I wish there would be no thousands of policemen to harass the Nigerian electorate, democracy would have been painted in beautiful colours, voters would have elected their own leaders without rancour.

But our democracy is militarized. The election period does not come with dramatic fanfare anymore, it is now a season of war. Gone were the days when Nigerians would stay indoor to watch political debates among their candidates.

In 2015, former US President, Barrack Obama made a public address, urging Nigerians to allow a peaceful election. He reminded the electorate of how the country fought to get independence and how the successive governments of Nigeria had built the largest economy in Africa, despite the challenges and ethnic diversity.

But a few years after, Obama’s successor, Donald Trump described Africa as “Shitholes”. He denigrated President Muhammadu Buhari, describing him as lifeless.

While Trump’s words are condemnable, there is a need for Africa and Nigeria to rebrand the process of its elections and make it attractive to the outside world.

The recent elections organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission were not credible and fell short of international standards. There were various reports of electoral frauds.

Ballots were snatched; voters induced with money while heavily armed security men were positioned at polling units to stalk the electorate.

The recent primaries by the two big political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) exposed high level of electoral corruption. Some of the aggrieved PDP members had since sulked up their annoyance but for those in APC, the crisis had persisted.

The crisis, which resulted from various fraud perpetrated by the leadership of the APC during primaries, is a testimony that Nigeria political elites are yet to learn from developed democracy.

Perhaps, Trump could be right, judging by the gap between the conduct of an election in the US and the ones we have witnessed in Nigeria.

There is need for the INEC and the Federal Government to take a cue from the US midterm elections. The Nigeria forthcoming polls should not be a do or die affairs but a step to repaint democracy as a new bride in Africa.


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