“IF YOU DON’T VOTE, YOU LOSE RIGHT TO COMPLAIN”

As we go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new President and members of the National Assembly in Nigeria, there is the need to be circumspect about our collective desire to change the paradigm of governance  in the country. For the first time in 1979, we had a taste of democratically elected government in a Presidential system  as foisted on the country by the military government, headed by Olusegun Obasanjo, which conducted the federal elections and handed over government to late Alhaji Shehu Shagari, whose party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) had the majority votes over other parties like Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Great Nigerian Peoples Party (GNPP) etc. The life of this democratic government was cut short at the beginning of its second term in 1983 by the military headed by General Muhammadu Buhari and his junta, thus denied Nigerians the tutelage of a new paradigm in governance after our British bequeathed Parliamentary system.  Nigeria waited for another 16 years of military contraction before a second trial of full civilian government emerged in May 1999. In between, there had been a maradonic invention of a diarchy where some civilians were elected to work under the military Presidency of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babanginda. Later, the infamous annulment of June 12 1993 elections which produced Bashorun Moshood Kasimawo Olawale Abiola in an undisputed fairest national elections in Nigeria. By popular pressure, MKO, has been recognized posthumously by President Muhammadu Buhari with the highest national award of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (GCFR).Agitation for restructure of the current system of government has been very loud in view of empirical evidence of lopsidedness and inequality in the distribution of the dividends of democracy.  Besides employment and appointment into sensitive positions in the government which have more evidence of nepotism and sectionalism, allocation of federal revenue based on local government availability per state are obviously unequal with undisputed evidence of parochialism and favouritism in some areas of the country at the expense of the other.Today, notwithstanding the fight against corruption mounted by the government, the causation of the vice remains unattended to. This includes the bloated emolument and allowances of elected members of the National Assembly and a deluge of political jobbers on their payrolls and the potpourri of perquisites that go with their offices. Aggregate of all these wastes and regularly flaunted form the basis for the tendency to struggle for the national cake by all means . . . pathfinder to corruption.  The local government distribution in the country, to say the least, exemplifies the unfairness and lopsidedness of the pattern. Take example of Lagos and Sokoto. While within 20 years (1976 – 1996) Sokoto had been split into 4 states of Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi and Zamfara with 23, 25, 21 and 14 local government respectively totaling 83 local government from the previous 20 two scores of years back. For Kano, with 20 local government like Lagos and Sokoto, Jigawa had come out of Kano and they both had 44 and 27 local government respectively while Lagos still remain 20 up to date.Devolution of power to reduce concentration of power in the centre is the essence of restructure that is being agitated. This will reduce the struggle for Abuja. Whoever wins the Presidential election must encourage inter and intra party dialogue to evolve with the wish of the electorate. Suffice it to believe the outgoing governor of Ogun State who has experienced the Green chamber phenomenon before his eight years sojourn in Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta as the Ogun State governor, knows the feelings of his constituency and the South West in general, therefore, becomes a veritable tool for the desired change and the next level of governance that would meet the demand of the aggrieved.Quoting Lyndon B. Johnson of America, “a man without a vote is a man without protection.  So, all eligible voters should troop to the booths and fulfill their civic responsibilities and vote for our desired change.
By Towulade of Akinale, Oba Femi Ogunleye   

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