The 2023 General Election scheduled for today (Saturday), and March 11 will be the seventh election since the nation returned to uninterrupted democratic governance 24 years ago.
As a matter of fact, this is the longest period of democratic rule in the history of the nation.
To some, there is nothing to celebrate, but to others, it calls for celebration.
This is more so, considering what the nation has passed through socially, economically, religiously, politically and has remained an indivisible entity, even amidst predictions, from some quarters, of possible break-up.
For that reason, a wide-range of political observers believe that todays election, a major determinant of the nations journey in the next four years, calls for celebration.
Besides, the regular conduct of free, fair and credible elections, wherein people can vote or choose their leaders, is a major indicator of a democratic system.
No two ways about it! Todays election has shown that another feat in the democratic road map Nigeria needed to stand tall, not just among the great democracies of the world, but also as the giant of Africa, has now been recorded.
Now that the D-day has arrived, Nigerians should conduct themselves in a manner that would guarantee peace, harmony and progress of the nation.
But having said that, we must also accept that there is nowhere in the history of the world wherein election results are not disputed or challenged.
What is important, albeit less successful in our own context, is how some advanced democracies handle their own electoral litigations, demonstrating maturity and progressiveness .
In that wise, todays election should not be seen as a winners-take-all and losers-lick-their-wounds affair.
It is also vitally important that those seeking leadership positions through the mechanism of todays polling must understand that, though the outgoing administration has, without doubt, impacted on the socio-economic and political lives of Nigerians, many more critical issues will still need to be tackled by its would-be successors.
The issues are staring every Nigerian citizen in the face, be they multi-cultural, multi-religious or multi-ethnic; be they issues of insecurity or sky-rocketing unemployment, they are national issues that must be addressed by a new administration.
It is indisputable that the present administration has worked really hard, committing huge financial and human resources, in touching the lives of ordinary Nigerians, despite some setbacks arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. To the credit of the current administration, Nigeria, unlike some nations that are still reeling from the Covid crisis, has pretty much weathered the storm, preventing the deaths of thousands, if not millions of citizens.
On the issue of insecurity, the first problem in need of attention, it is incumbent on government at all levels to invest heavily in better intelligence and surveillance programmes, as well as strengthen border security, control and support local communities, in order to improve their economic power. There is also the need for greater investment in counter- radicalization efforts.
Another major problem the incoming government should look into is the issue of poverty.
Although the current administration at the centre introduced measures like trader-moni, national poverty eradication programme, youth empowerment scheme, Rural infrastructure development scheme and several others, it is important that these programmes be sustained and improved upon.
What about the nations tertiary education system, which has for decades been gravely undermined by incessant strikes?
It is true, is it not?, that a nation’s future is determined by the quality of education it provides its citizens.
But prolonged strike actions, and some would say inadequate funding as well, has accounted for the major reason why contemporary institutions and governments around the world no longer have much regard for Nigerian certificates.
As such, finding a way to end lecturers always embarking on strikes, in addition to increasing the budget on education, may help begin the process of returning our education system to the pride of place it once enjoyed worldwide.
Also, there is the issue of electricity, which is the driving-force for economic development in any country.
It is on record that this administration has committed to improving the nations hitherto epileptic power supply by injecting huge sums into the sector. In practical terms, the administration deliberately focused more attention on completing all ongoing rural electrification projects spread across the country’s six geopolitical zones.
The least the incoming administration can do is to sustain priority its predecessor has given to the power sector. After all, electricity remains the bedrock of industrial revolution for any nation.
Now that the dark clouds over the 2023 general elections have largely vanished, given the holding of todays election, what remains is consolidation, no matter who the winners are. The votes of more than 93 million eligible Nigerians will have spoken and counted.
Writing by Olufemi Fulani of our current affairs department; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino and Tony Okerafor