Democratizing Elections and National Security in 2023

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DThe history of development lends credence to the maxim that any democratic state can only organize free and fair elections if security agents, media professionals and civil society organizations perform their roles adequately. It is quite clear that the developed countries are what they are today simply because everyone or the agents of politics fulfill their constitutional role to support democracy.

Has a state developed without institutionalizing the means to organize free and fair elections? In other words, failed states are often notorious for their inability to choose competent leaders in credible, free and fair elections. I mean capable leaders who can paddle the canoe of state to the Promised Land. African states are still wallowing in a pathetic sea of ​​bad leaders due to their inability to organize internationally acceptable elections.

National security is a common language used by both rulers and ruled to express the state of being safe from physical harm or the loss of cherished values ​​such as political stability or regime security; the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation; economic dependence, environmental security and the sustainability and preservation of the people’s cultural heritage, among others. Moreover, the achievement of national security is premised on achieving and achieving other state goals such as the advancement of science and technology; economic dependence, military superiority, political stability, effective and efficient exploration of natural resources; national cohesion, agricultural and food self-sufficiency and favorable diplomatic exits, among others.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria, as a democratic state, has wallowed in a pathetic sea of ​​backwardness, insecurity, corruption and high levels of poverty. The threat of these problems is often referred to as bad leadership. Awareness of this fact has prompted Nigerians to clamor for democracy. The logic is that democracy will allow them to choose good heads to paddle the canoe of this country. It is a pity, because since the beginning of the current Fourth Republic, the elections have not reflected the opinion of the voters.

The Nigerian Presidential Election 2023 will be held on February 25, 2023 to elect the President and Vice President of Nigeria. Incumbent APC President Muhammadu Buhari has a term limit and cannot run for a third term. Presidential candidates generally do not appear to have developed a plan to tackle our security challenge or tackle the country’s economic quagmire.

Instead, attention is more focused on the mundane squabbles over the fallout from the primary election; personality clashes or name-calling even among them, none of which can save Nigeria from its current predicament.

Unfortunately, given the indispensability of election in a democratic framework as a means of emergence in the political office and political economy of the Nigerian state, elections, especially in developing states like Nigeria, are generally characterized by despair. Consequently, elections have become a political handicap and a source of crises rather than a political asset and a legitimate force. Nigerians’ experience with electoral democracy since 1959 has revealed intense competition for power from the political class, leading to various forms of electoral irregularities and violence.

Similarly, the various experiences of competitive electoral politics in Nigeria have brought the worst in terms of political violence, robbery, rigging, manipulation of election results, theft of ballot boxes, arson, wanton assassination of ‘suspected political opponents, of immediate and unbridled destruction of lives and property among others.

Moreover, the arbitrariness of the Nigerian state does not arrange things in the same way, thus constituting a huge challenge to national security. The privileged class observes only the laws which favor its interest. Election laws are unpredictable as they are frequently changed to reflect the changing interests of the ruling class.

Beyond protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity, it is imperative that the state address other critical issues such as unemployment, poverty and corruption that pose great challenges to national security. and even to the very existence of businesses in the country. Building on the above, the article recommends a drastic reduction in the benefits accruing to political office as a deterrent to intense struggle and contestation of power that results in repeated and flawed elections in Nigeria.

Felix Oladeji writes from Lagos Nigeria

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