In face of the challenges of worn-out public infrastructure, neglect of education and health care delivery, humongous cost of governance, youth restiveness, and abject poverty and misery on the increase, the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, has described the 2023 election as a big deal for the country.
In an article entitled which was obtained by Africa Daily News, New York: ‘2023: That Nigeria’s Tomorrow May be Alright,’ the former president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), noted that Nigerians cannot afford to get it wrong even as he set an agenda for the next president.
The article reads: ‘On Saturday, February 25, 2023, over 95 million registered voters are expected to troop to 176,846 polling units across Nigeria to elect a new president. This time around, there is a very strong indication that there will be a high voter turnout. The reason is not far-fetched. In the last seven years plus, Nigerians have had their high expectations dashed by the current President Muhammadu Buhari administration resulting in mistrust and widespread discontent. That is not all, the standard of living and the cost of living for the average Nigerian is nothing to write home about.
‘These, amidst other unfortunate incidents, are some of the reasons the forthcoming elections must be taken as seriously as possible. From the political parties to the candidates themselves and even, we, the electorate; all hands must be on deck so we begin to salvage what is left of our nation.
‘The #EndSARS movement/protest by the youths made the populace realise their power and place in the country. Unfortunately, it was poorly handled or responded to by the government and the resultant effect is what we are seeing today. Now, more than ever, at least, in the history of our nation, there is an increase in the rate at which people want to ‘JAPA’, simply put, brain drain or leave the country in search of greener pastures. So, this election is a big deal and we cannot afford to get it wrong.
‘Yes, President Buhari, Independent National Electoral Commission and the security agencies have assured Nigerians and the international community that the forthcoming 2023 general election will be free, fair and credible. But there is still noticeable uneasiness in the country. Volatile security challenges such as banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram insurgency, killings and harassment of farmers by cattle herders, coupled with religious and ethnic intolerance and violence still plague the country and there are very weak or no attempts at bringing the culprits to justice.
‘The impression that these create is that there is no law and order in the country, which has gravely affected the country’s economy. It is unfortunate that today, Nigeria borrows for consumption as the 2023 budget projected N11 trillion deficit revealed. A recent statement from the Debt Management Office put Nigeria’s total debt (local and external) at N42.84 trillion or $103.31 billion. We are yet to know how these monies are spent. Corruption has become the greatest constraint and hindrance to the growth and development of our country. It is estimated, from research, that more than $200 billion has been stolen from Nigeria and laundered offshore since the first year of this Fourth Republic.
‘Shamelessly, Nigeria, a major crude oil producer, imports petroleum products even from non-oil-producing countries. The challenges are legion. Today, it has become almost normal to hear that the national power grid has collapsed, yet consumers are continually charged higher tariff rates.
‘Worn-out public infrastructure, neglect of education and health care delivery, humongous cost of governance, youth restiveness, and abject poverty and misery have been on the increase. It is common to see both old and young begging on the streets for a living. In all of these, our losses have become a huge human capital gain for offshore nations, particularly the West.
‘For a country blessed with rich human and natural resources, it is both shameful and painful that we are where we are today. All over the world, we have Nigerians doing exceedingly well in every area of human endeavour. A young Nigerian, Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo is deputy secretary of the Treasury in President Joe Biden’s administration and recently, Kemi Badenoch, nee Adegoke, was appointed by the British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, as the Secretary of State for International Trade for the United Kingdom. These are just to mention a few illustrious Nigerians helping other nations with their knowledge and talent. If the proper facilities and opportunities were present here, these men and women would be enriching the nation.
‘The #Obidient movement bears much semblance with the #EndSARS movement. Both are driven by the idea of a better Nigeria, both have the youths occupying the central place and both are fuelled, funded, and organised by unseen forces that have a magnetic pull on a vast majority of the populace. It will be foolish for the government to deal with it the same way they handled the #EndSARS; as scripture says, ‘Therefore let him who thinks he stands to take heed lest he falls’ (1Cor. 10:12).
‘From the above narrative, the next president already has his work cut out for him. This calls for a president that is decisive and forthright; a president that will avoid and reject nepotism. Nigerians are looking forward to a president that will put food on their table, value education, provide easily affordable housing, promote industry and create jobs and wealth. Nigerians are looking for a God-fearing and people-loving president; that cares and is willing to serve – a servant leader.
‘To elect such a leader, all hands must be on deck. We must shun all forms of tribal or religious politicking. We must not allow our greed or selfish interest to influence our choices. We must scrutinise each candidate judiciously and without any bias and elect the best man for the job irrespective of tribal, religious or regional affiliations. May God grant us a willing servant leader.’
Africa Daily News, New York reports that the Presidential election will hold on February 23rd next year.