The Many Mistakes of the 2023 General Election, By ‘Tope Fasua

Until we are able to stand up for ourselves and calmly assess which systems of government are good for us, we are likely to be floundering and further poisoning our society. Somehow the loudest among us are also the ones who have been wired and conditioned never to think of an alternative to the western idea of ​​democracy. And Westerners have continued to pour money into this democracy – perhaps unwilling to consider any variation of it – preventing the system from changing. What do I mean? Our democracy is too expensive. These four year elections are killing Nigeria financially. We’ve spent trillions running these elections since 1999. And we’re not even building a more cohesive society out of it.

Expensive indeed in terms of time and money. As the elections approached, I noticed that many people had taken vacations from work. Two of my junior staff came to take two days off before the elections. As I’m typing this on a Monday, they have yet to continue. I actually asked one of them who was heading east if he was sure of the safety of his journey. The problem is that some people like to vote in their home country, while others don’t mind moving to where they live. I belong to the latter group. Why take days off and spend so much on transportation just to vote. Voting in Nigeria is quite stressful in that we need to start evaluating this process to ensure sustainability. I remember voting once when I was living in London. It was the simplest thing. I just went to a voting unit in Belsize Park on a Tuesday and went about my business for the day. It took less than five minutes to complete the process. Well, I don’t expect us to get to that level just yet. But it looks like the voting process is getting more and more tedious here. Me and my family stood to vote for at least five hours on Saturday February 25th.

I believe we have tried to use technology to achieve behaviors, giving up ourselves and the possibility of mental reform. I believe that in this matter, too, we will dispense with grading. We now use sledgehammer attacks to solve problems, doing more damage to the system as a result. For example, in an attempt to leave a legacy of free and fair elections, President Buhari, with the connivance of the central bank leadership, decided to lock down the banking sector for the elections. We’ve had people being robbed of their money and having to climb over fences to get tiny fractions of what they need. People died in hospital because electronic channels were blocked and cash was unavailable. The dark side of the banking sector has been exposed – as a sector in which players declare billions in profits annually, but in which they operate with a very weak infrastructure. Aside from the sheer thoughtlessness of throwing such a caper into an election – because of the fear, anguish and anger it instilled in voters – the meanness of it all was exasperating. The human cost was unnecessary, and the damage to people’s confidence in the financial sector was quite significant.

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The lesson our politicians need to learn is that they should spend more time and effort focusing on the long-term efforts that will affect most people, rather than these knee-jerk reactions. Rather than inflicting more pain on people by confiscating their money for targeting politicians, a leader should strive for mass education and improve living standards across the country. That’s why I disagree with those who say it’s not the President’s duty to deal with basic education and to ensure that the problem of the 20 million children who are out of school is solved. It’s a problem that should keep a president up at night. And among himself and the governors down to the local governments, the president should make sure that no one rests until a big dent is made on this issue. He should also ensure that some unstoppable processes are put in place to keep the train moving even when it departs. I would advise that something like this should never happen before or during an election again. It was amazing. The people felt they were being punished for no reason, and this caused an uproar against the ruling party. reckless.

Even the idea of ​​always buying all sorts of gadgets to try and solve man-made problems is outrageous. We forget the principle “garbage in – garbage out”. Humans can screw up any device. Since we returned to democracy in 1999, INEC has probably spent trillions on importing all kinds. Lots of gadgets were bought that were supposed to be our lifesavers, that should completely eradicate fraud, that should finally sanitize the electoral process. I’m sure INEC has some of the largest warehouses for scrap equipment in all of history. Many of the gadgets block on voting day. Many make it into the homes of political gangsters and their leaders. Many are crushed by thugs without caring that some cost millions per unit. Another godsend device will be introduced in the next cycle. This time it’s the BVAS – the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. This became widespread. My polling department was three hours late before the polls started because they said they forgot one and had to pick it up. We were told that the one on the ground could only catch people with surnames beginning with the letters A through D – which we later found out was utter nonsense. In many places the BVAS was completely ignored – such as where a lady was busy helping old women get the thumbprint for a particular party. If there are any legal disputes this time, they will never end. Seems like there are people who specialize in making billions every cycle selling gadgets.

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Other anomalies noticed in this election cycle include:

The referees – including, unfortunately, young youth bodies – do not seem to understand that they should never show bias. How can you referee and show openly that you support one side of the game? Youth corps and professors have been caught trying to falsify results for parties they pay for. Intimidation was particularly evident in the South East and South West as people were beaten for not voting for their popular candidate. A video showed a polling station locked down and people had to indicate who they wanted to vote for. Even where I voted in Abuja, there were boys who would intimidate anyone who wanted to vote for the ruling party. Other people have openly cursed such people. There was violence, particularly in the south-east and south-west, but not enough to invalidate a general election. As always, there were child voters – more in the north. But even in the Southeast there is video of child voters. No evidence of that in the Southwest – yet. There were mass thumbprints everywhere, even in the cosmopolitan areas of places like Lagos. Evidence shows that, in fact, even the burgeoning opposition party got involved. There is evidence that political bosses, governors and others tried to win votes. I was listening to a voice memo that showed it may not have worked for a certain southern governor.

The good thing this time is that smartphones are everywhere and with them a flood of image and video evidence that people can browse through in the coming days. There will be a lot more coming from everywhere I think. It is obvious that we are not improving as a society. And in that election, the malaise of the past rose up—especially between East and West. The North, in its position as kingmaker, seems stoic with its numbers, but of course there has been massive manipulation, even from a certain new party influencing the grassroots. Honestly, it was a dog meal. But in the end, the dirt-stripped bottom line still pointed to a winner. Better next time. Let the Nigerian leaders work on people’s minds. We need a real revolution of ideas, policies and actions that will positively impact millions of our people and shift our thinking away from all this negativity, mutual hatred and distrust, a sense of scarcity instead of abundance, and a loss of hope in an otherwise hopeful one , bountiful, graceful, blessed, land. I am saying that our younger people need to immerse themselves in history to know that if they harbor bad feelings towards this country, it is their fault. There are too many opportunities here to make an impact and live a great life. May Nigeria prosper.

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“Tope Fasua, economist, author, blogger, entrepreneur and new presidential candidate for the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), can be reached at [email protected]

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