2023 Election: It’s Time, Nigerians Start Facing Reality

2023 Election: It's Time, Nigerians Start Facing Reality
Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi And Atiku Abubakar

The 2023 elections that many Nigerians have always talked about, prayed, dreamt, prophesied, hoped, and campaigned about finally came and passed over the weekend leaving most of them bruised and mentally defeated. In the aftermath, a good majority of them have resorted to prayers ignoring the fact that if prayers and good wishes were prerequisites for a prosperous country, Nigeria will be far richer than China. Indeed, they have refused to acknowledge the fact that repeated idiocy has never been known to produce different outcomes notwithstanding the frequency of attempts. 

After casting their votes on Saturday, anxious Nigerians waited patiently for the biased and evidently compromised umpire – the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) to muddle through a substantially self-inflicted, messy process and decide on a verdict that was expected to raise the tensions and deepen the depression among those who can see beyond fixed numbers and anticipated celebrations.

The elections have defied the widespread expectations of Nigerians who innocently, and perhaps ignorantly assumed that INEC was going to eliminate its name from the toga of the clearly-established failure of virtually every institution in Nigeria. Indeed, the failure of the electoral body has not only dampened the morale of the electorate but has also cast Nigeria into a deeper mess in the eyes of the international community.

Despite the repeated warnings to Nigerians to consider boycotting the elections until specific questions around nationhood were answered, many Nigerians chose to legitimise the process last Saturday by providing INEC an opportunity to further decimate them.

Before this election, many Nigerians had, for very probable reasons, lost much hope in the power of the ballot. Sadly, these hopes were roundly restored after INEC decided to commit to some institutional Abracadabra coupled with constitutional amendments to the electoral act which they felt was sound enough to rekindle their interest.

Before the elections, INEC made good efforts and spent good money mischievously trying to convince Nigerians that going by the constitutional amendments that were effected to the electoral act, only people whose biometrics had been captured during accreditation would vote and only results transmitted electronically from the polling units to INEC server would be admitted and tabulated for results. The electoral body had assured Nigerians that the introduction of technology will effectively cut off the chances of tampering with the results and sadly, an intimidating majority of Nigerians bought that fable and went to the polls only to have their hopes smashed to the smithereens.

On Saturday, the 25th of February, it didn’t take too much time for Nigerians to realise that they have been scammed by the electoral body whose promises they ignorantly chose to believe. On that fateful day, reports of the late arrival of electoral materials began to filter in from different parts of Nigeria that even by 12 noon and beyond in many polling units, no INEC officials had been sighted for an election that was supposed to commence by 8.30am. Interestingly, these included areas that were in the heart of cities and easily accessible by vehicles. In several areas, reports began to emanate that while voting had commenced, some electoral officials conveying voting materials went to different polling locations and were yet to even locate their voting centres. That was an indication that INEC officials did not visit their assigned centres days before D-Day.

It was such a shameful process that TV stations had to even show many of the INEC officials arriving at election venues in rickety commercial vehicles that can easily break down for lack of maintenance. Many arrived at their duty posts without basic materials like pens, ink pads for thumbprinting, and office pins. Some members of the electorate provided such, to ensure that there was no delay.
Going by the institutional failures which have become synonymous with the Nigerian state, the failures of the electoral body wouldn’t have been alarming if the commission didn’t go out of its way to make Nigerians believe that it was about to deliver the best election the nation has ever witnessed.

When the election itself commenced, in some states such as Lagos, Rivers, Kogi, Edo, etc, there was voter intimidation and violence. Soon enough, Nigerians began to juxtapose these anomalies with the fact that way before the election, several agencies had released the list of states that were projected to be flashpoints, and the Federal Government had in response to that deployed the police and the military. Nigerians were essentially assured that adequate security would be provided for the election. However, this did not stop thugs from besieging different polling centres, attacking voters, and destroying votes and other electoral materials. This cannot be blamed solely on INEC but in some places, INEC’s officials were alleged to have colluded with election disruptors or manipulators.

This crazy atmosphere offered a great opportunity for electoral malpractice by the major parties. It is on record that the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and surprisingly the Labour Party all engaged in various degrees of electoral misconduct. The Labour party, wittingly and unwittingly engaged in cases of overvoting in some of its strongholds which were rarely penetrated by other parties. The ruling PDP and APC simply went off the cliff with their rigging such that it was so brazen to shock international observers who were in Nigeria to monitor the elections.

However, of all these issues, perhaps the most saddening for the Nigerian electorate was the inability of the electoral body to keep to its biggest promise to upload the results from the polling units to the INEC server.

In different parts of the country, more than six hours after the election was concluded, the results could not be uploaded as promised by INEC. As expected, this gave room for various kinds of manipulations at various wards, LGA, and State collation centres. The rest they say is history!

When the dust finally settles, Nigerians will simply look back at the charade and be inundated with questions that would have no answers. Questions like why was Olusegun Agbaje allowed to remain the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos after he spewed hatred for the Igbo electorate in Lagos? Why was Femi Olubiyi, a former Commissioner for Science and Technology under Tinubu in Lagos allowed to remain the Head of the Information and Computer Technology of the INEC? Why did they believe Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the same man who oversaw the 2019 electoral heist when he promised them free and fair elections? Going by every available credible report, INEC failed in transparency, failed on organisation, failed on impartiality, failed on logistics, and failed on time management!

A careful look at the entire process shows that what played out was more of an institutional rigging of the 2023 presidential election and the truth is that many Nigerians saw it coming and were promptly warned about it but their warnings fell on deaf ears.

It is, however, a very shameful outing for Nigeria whom, Africa had looked upon to conduct an election that is clean and similar to what is seen in Western countries. Having an election dogged by violence and shoddiness has only succeeded in casting an aspersion on Nigeria. The world has believed that elections in Africa are similar to war. Such beliefs help to belittle Nigeria and Africa in the eyes of the world as disorganised people of no consequence.

Going forward, Nigerians must understand that resorting to self-help by taking laws into their hands is ill-advised and must be avoided with every sense of discretion. What Nigerians need now are strategy and tact, not noise.

First, they must find ways to unite in their rejection of the fictitious results while insisting that the structure of the country be addressed first before a new President is allowed to go into Aso Rock. This can be achieved within the shortest possible time if Nigerians are united in their resolve.

In conclusion, this quagmire was avoidable if only Nigerians paid heed to sound logic and boycotted the elections as the first step. Hopefully, the lessons of the past few days will be enough to reset their thinking into waking up to reality.

© 2018 – 2020 Africa Digital News, New York
Powered By


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s