Today marks the beginning of another year and ushers in the long awaited and critical elections in the life of Nigeria.

From now on, the electoral activities are expected to reach their peak with political actors and candidates intensifying campaigns and strategies to help their victory at the polls.

This makes the year 2023 a watershed year for the Nigerian electorate, while also ushering in desperate times for the parties and their candidates vying for the various elective offices.

Furthermore, considering that as of today, the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 25, 2023 are less than two months away, the parties are truly in moments of desperation, pulling and pushing their last few parties to ensure victory.

Of course, leading up to the elections, in recent weeks there has been a further alignment and realignment of politicians and political actors to platforms and political parties where their interests would be better served.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, various organizations and media platforms have started dialogues, debates, lobby platforms for presidential candidates, to develop their agendas and interact with Nigerians on how they intend to reposition the country in different sectors.

Some of the presidential candidates have also made extensive tours of states and constituencies to learn firsthand about the challenges that await them if elected to office in 2023.

In Nigeria, expectations are high among Nigerians that this election will be an opportunity to elect a credible leader who will reposition the country and set it on a path to prosperity, like his peers globally.

However, with the campaign in full swing, observers are increasingly concerned about the desperation of politicians in seeking to win at all costs.

In recent weeks, since the campaigns began, attacks, killings and politically motivated violence have been on the rise in Nigeria.

Experts say the politicians’ win-at-all-cost tactic poses a considerable threat to electoral integrity in 2023, despite advances in technology.

Pundits and concerned Nigerians have called on the candidates and Nigerians to focus on discussing the issues rather than heating up politics.

Despite repeated promises by candidates at various levels to play by the rules, violence and politically motivated attacks have been on an alarming rise.

Since October, reports of attacks on or assassinations of politicians and clashes between supporters of candidates have been on the rise.

A few weeks ago, gunmen killed Victoria Chintex, a female leader of the Labor Party (LP), in Kaura LG in Kaduna state.

Just two weeks ago, a Labor Party House of Assembly candidate, Christopher Elehu, was assassinated in Imo state by suspected assassins in the Onuimo local government area.

In November, the convoy of Olajide Adediran, the PDP gubernatorial candidate in Lagos state, was attacked during his campaign tour of the Badagry local government area, with several people injured and cars destroyed.

Mike Ejiofor, retired director of the Department of Security Services (DSS), said hate speech and violence are threats to the country in the buildup to the 2023 general election.

Ejiofor said that the candidates should focus on discussing issues instead of heating up politics.

According to him, “You don’t buy my vote, you don’t buy the vote of Nigerians; what we must do as electorates is vote our conscience.

“If the people do well, you can vote for them and if they don’t do well, you can remove them from power. So when they bring you money, pick it up and vote your conscience. We should not vote for the person who did not do well.

“There are security threats towards the 2023 general elections. There would be fake news, violence, personalities, health issues, among others, instead of what the person wants to offer.

“So we need to focus on discussing the issues instead of heating up politics.”

Similarly, the Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) recently raised the alarm that desperate political players looking to win at all costs could rig the outcome of the 2023 election if left unchecked.

The organization also noted that worsening insecurity across the country also continues to be a threat to the ballot box.

Idayat Hassan, director of CDD, in a statement, observed that the 2023 election would be one of the most challenging elections to be held in the country.

She said: “The Boko Haram conflict that defined the 2015 elections has yet to be quelled, but with bandits operating in the north-west, violent secessionist turmoil spiraling in the south-east and ongoing clashes between farmers and herders across the country, the 2023 election is set to take place amid national insecurity.

“The June 5 attack on a church in the relatively stable state of Ondo in southwestern Nigeria, which killed more than 50 people, was a stark reminder of the security challenges that will affect the security of electoral materials and the staff, and a great challenge. for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” Hassan said.

Sola Ogundimu, a political analyst, said that impunity and collaboration between security agencies and politicians contributed to the trend.

Ogundimu said that security agencies need to rise to the challenge ahead.

“The fact that we don’t prosecute the people who commit these crimes is responsible for their continued occurrence.

“We hear that candidates and politicians are killed every time, was there an arrest? We just talk about it for a day or two and move on, even the party the murdered person belongs to doesn’t do anything.

“I think we have to do more. Security agencies must be equipped, some of them even work with politicians to protect these children who carry out these acts,” said Ogundimu.

Pius Oiwoh, immediate past president of the Benin branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), dismissed speeches made by supporters to undermine candidates’ chances ahead of the 2023 presidential election, saying candidates will be judged on their pedigree and background to be presented. endure to prevent the nation from collapsing.

“Social media is now being seriously used to promote hate speech about candidates. Honestly, this time, I think that people are not moved by what they say about anyone. The people have made up their minds and will not be moved by these speeches.

“The truth is that Nigerians are now getting wiser and regardless of what people say or do to smear and undermine a particular presidential candidate; By the time people realize what we are going through as a nation and where we want to go, then they will know that these speeches against the candidates will not help anyone.

“Truth be told, Nigerians have realized that in order for them to get this country to where we want to be, they have to have the capacity. So people will be judged by their past and not by what they say,” Oiwoh said.

The legal professional stressed that the 2023 elections will provide Nigerians with the opportunity to choose who will truly lead, steer the country’s ship to safety and turn the tide on rising insecurity, declining economy and high level of corruption. in the country.

According to Oiwoh, “Nigerians cannot continue to be impoverished and go through so much misery and hardship that we have gone through over time. Our votes are our power, our votes are our strength to be able to do the right thing this time. Otherwise, we will have ourselves to blame.

“Nigerians are looking for a president who is ready to change our economy. Nigerians are fed up with a system that continually assures us that it will reduce corruption. Corruption is even at its peak despite the anti-corruption agencies we have. If the issue of corruption had been addressed, I am sure that, to a large extent, poverty and all the ills of society that tend to undermine merit and undermine the principles that will allow fairness and justice would have been solved. So we want a president who guarantees that corruption will be minimized in our society.

“Our economy is down; the ship is sinking and we need a president to guarantee us and steer the ship of this nation to a proper destination. The level of insecurity has taken a worrying turn. Unfortunately, when this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, he identified these three components, namely the economy, corruption and insecurity, as the main focus areas. But unfortunately, he couldn’t achieve any of them. These are the areas that affect us as a people.

“The time has come for us as a nation to talk about corruption, the economy and security. Many people have left the shores of this country and investors have moved out of this country. Even those who have the human capital, particularly doctors, are leaving the country.

“The next president has a lot to do and that is why you have to look at the trajectory of the candidates to be able to determine who of them will rescue this country from ruin,” he said.

Oiwoh opined that Nigeria by nature has talented citizens and is blessed with abundant natural and mineral resources, but the leaders are the problems.

“Nigerians have realized that the little money they are given will not sustain them through four years of bad leadership. People have learned their lessons terribly. There are many things that the immediate fund that politicians give cannot cover. I believe and hope that the Nigerians we see now will collect the money and vote conscientiously.”

Also read: Will new voters influence the 2023 election?

Sharing his views, Douglas Ogbankwa, a lawyer and coordinator of Vanguard for the Independence of the Judiciary, said that the fulcrum of election campaigns is now problem-based and Nigerians are no longer moved by persuasive words considering experiences past.

“I think Nigerians are wiser now, so anyone who uses hate speech is actually doing themselves a disservice. Citizens want to hear how problems such as insecurity, the value of the Naira, bureaucratic bottlenecks that hinder investments, among others that the country faces, can be solved. This is what the citizens will use to determine who will rule them for the next four years.

“Apart from a few incorrigibles, many Nigerians know that when they are bought and their votes, they have actually sacrificed themselves for the next four years and have no right to complain. I think Nigerians, right now, want to vote who they believe in and not those who are looking for sympathy.

“After the EndSARS protests, the power of the youth is obvious and there is a clear direction for the ruling class that it is no longer business as usual for all politicians, it is a campaign based on the people and for any politician who wants to to come. for a second term, the person must be ready to involve the people in their programs and must be able to make populist decisions that will affect the people as a whole,” Ogbankwa said.