Commentary Commentary Headline Nigeria Politics Special Report

Implications of 2023 democratic transition

In a few weeks from now, precisely on February 25, 2023, Nigerians will again, go to the polls to commence another civilian-to-civilian transition.

All in all, the Nation has enjoyed about 25 years of unbroken democratic civilian-to-civilian political stability. Worthy of note has been the phenomenon of intense political struggle at each election cycle having implications for national security.

Explicitly, it was a situation of two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), democratically challenging one another, whereby, there was a clear dichotomy of a Northern candidate versus a Southern candidate.

The incoming political transition is presenting greater diversification, taking the Nation to a tripod of post-independence regional politics, which includes the North, East and West having security implications for the polity.

The PDP is presenting a Northern candidate, the APC a Western candidate and the Labour Party (LP) presenting an Easterner. In a normal democratic political climate, nothing is wrong with the regional geo-political arrangement.  

Given however the unfortunate and debilitating Nigerian socio-political climate, resulting in tension, confrontation, bad blood, tribalism, ethnicity, and religious acrimony, the 2023 elections and the political transition may seriously impact the polity, with negative consequences.  

The phenomenon of arson, assassinations, political hooliganism, infrastructural destruction, oil pipe vandalism, kidnappings, railway bombings, Boko Haram, ISWAP, IDPs and all sorts of crime and criminality constitute a very serious threat to the 2023 democratic transition and national security.

(L-R) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (APC), Atiku Abubakar (PDP) and Peter Obi (LP)

Elders and national political leaders are disappointed by the conduct of the current political party gladiators, who seemed to have learnt nothing from past failures and challenges.

Implicitly, there is a need for all parties to exercise restraint, to avoid putrid political confrontation and undue violence capable of destroying the basis of the polity.

Nigerians are genuinely apprehensive and increasingly disappointed by the vile and cantankerous language of intimidation, generalised violence and outright gangsterism.

Whereas the citizenry expects a language of nobility, decency, and civility quite dignifying of good leadership particularly given the country’s position and status as the ‘giant of Africa’.

Explicitly, the citizenry, the traditional institutions, the clergy, the academia, the business class, the intelligentsia and other class of professionals must work and act in favour of the unity, peace and collective security of the people.

Nigeria’s national interest, the people’s power and survival as a leader nation must be the supreme preoccupation to strengthen the democratic political credentials in the comity of nations.

The peace accord signed by the major political parties must be strictly followed. Elder political statesmen must be seriously involved and committed to ensuring a peaceful civilian-to-civilian political democratic transition.

Subsequently, there is a need for INEC to conduct free, fair, violence free and credible elections, with a call for tight and elaborate security arrangements.

According to INEC, about 75% of voters are between 18 and 49 years old, constituting a huge chunk of the electorate with fresh and fertile minds, having greater expectations for National security, stability and development.

Therefore, as the final days approach, the national survival imperatives command that the political leadership must demonstrate reciprocal respect towards one another to avoid subverting the basis of a plural democratic polity.

By Prof Danfulani Ahmed, former Director-General, National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS Kuru), Jos; Editing by Muzha Kucha