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2019 elections and state of the nation - Umar Lukma

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In his views about the elections taking place this week, elder statesman and second republic governor of old Kaduna state, Balarabe Musa, concluded ruefully that Nigeria was heading inevitably towards the sort of unfortunate tragedy that was witnessed in 1966.

Looking at the state of the nation as we head for the elections, I could not agree more with this objective assessment.

 

There is a saying in the Hausa language which goes to the effect that happenings in mid-week will shape and determine how the weekend turn out to be.

As usual in this country, we are going into the elections with trepidation. The usual cocktails of untoward actions are visible; rising incidence of violence between supporters of the two main parties and sectarian differences are being stoked by political figures.

 

All these have become normal fare during elections. As the security agencies have proven capable in containing such situations in the past there is no reason to believe they will not be able to do so this time around.

But essentially in the 2019 elections we are dealing with a deeper fundamental issue which pertains to the body politic of the nation. This has to do with the political threshold which the outcome of the 2015 elections has spawned. The principal issue in this regard is the Buhari factor which has introduced a new narrative to the political firmament.

The political opposition which lost to Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, have been struggling to come to terms with that development since then. At first they thought it was a mere glitch in their calculations which will surely be corrected in the subsequent election in 2019. But they became alarmed at the trajectory of Muhammadu Buhari, the president who seemed bent on carrying out a political paradigm change which for all practical purposes was aimed at consigning them to political oblivion.

This then is the background to the 2019 elections which discerning minds should dwell on. The political threshold is such that those individuals and forces who feel threatened by the politics of PMB are now irrevocably convinced that the president represents an existential danger to their place in the political scheme of things. To them, there can be no further accommodation with him in the polity.

The president himself knows that he has reached a point of no return in his political mission and must carry on otherwise he runs the risk of a repeat of what happened to him in 1985 when he was overthrown as military ruler of Nigeria.

In all of this no holds barred political slugfest, the battleground is the Nigerian people whose basic needs and interest are hardly taken care of. And all indications point to the fact that the two forces ranged in the 2019 elections will not yield ground no matter the outcome. If PMB wins he will resume his crusade with more vigour and go after the political opposition like a ton of bricks. And should the opposition win, PMB and leading members of his administration will be hounded and thoroughly demystified.

It should worry us Nigerians that the outcome of the 2019 elections may not likely settle the electoral contest between the two. There are clear indications from what we have witnessed so far that the elections will rather be a catalyst for further contentions that will likely take on more dangerous dimensions for the country. In the event of this happening Nigeria will likely be thrown into further uncertainty as the business of government will be distracted and geared more towards resolving emergencies than towards the normal requirements of the citizenry.

This much has been reflected in the country analyses of foreign institutions and think tanks as well as the mainstream International media.

This prompts the question what should Nigerians do about the situation?

We recall that sometime before the 2015 elections there was a National Intelligence Assessment on Nigeria from the United States of America which concluded that Nigeria was likely to disintegrate by the time of the 2015 elections. Although that prediction thankfully did not come to pass, looking at the current situation of things in the polity, we may just as well be hurtling dangerously towards that possibility.

I believe this assessment ties up with what elder statesman Balarabe Musa was alluding to and I am inclined to concur with him. I also believe many Nigerians are in agreement with that assessment.

My objective view is that what is happening now and likely to happen in future is the consequence of our not confronting and resolving our many contradictions as a country when presented with the opportunities to do so. It is inevitable that at some point these contradictions will all come to head and will then task all our abilities in resolving them in an inconvenient way.

In this regard it need not be a tragedy if we show sufficient understanding of the issues and approach them as challenges for necessary nation building which the situation calls for. It is what other nations have had to face and surmount and we also must do same in order to survive and thrive in the comity of nations.

 

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