Welcome aboard the new year of our Lord-2023. This is the day, the hour, the week, the month and the year that the good Lord has made for us to rejoice and be glad in it. As people privileged to be alive, we must praise and thank God for his sufficient grace and mercy upon us throughout the year. From January to December 2022, a lot has happened, and some incidents have consumed many people. Having survived the precarious and unprecedented insecurity, economic crisis, dynamic poverty, kidnappings, terrorism, floods, misgovernment, etc. It is to thank God immensely. Many have died because they could not afford 500 naira to buy their daily high blood pressure medication and many have died because they could not afford to know what their medical problem was. We are just the ones who are gone, we are just lucky to be alive. Many people who started the year before with us couldn’t make it to yesterday, being the last day of the year. Some even died minutes or seconds to the new year after each preparation for the new year celebration. Many things have happened to many people and none of us could explain. There is no one who is too big to die or too small to live. We are all equal before the creator and none more important than the other. Whether you have mine or not, hold a position or not, it is just a matter of God’s discretion to call you or leave you.
Therefore, we must show gratitude to God for this kind gesture. We can only show this by loving ourselves and avoiding unnecessary bitterness towards others. We must put aside pettiness, envy, jealousy, malice, unforgiveness, and anything that seeks to bring us down, and embrace peace and love.
We have been through a lot in this country for us not to learn to live in peace with each other. We were created with different ethnic, tribal, and religious backgrounds in order for us to justify why we should have been created in the first place. Almighty God did that to see how we will behave and if we will show the difference as human beings. But we have failed God in many ways and have let him down on several occasions. It is not man, but God who easily forgives when we realize our shortcomings and limitations. He has never refused to listen or forgive us and he has never punished us as we deserve for his wealth of love. So why can’t we do things differently to get his support, backing and blessings from him?
As we begin the new year, I urge you to digest this simple but very important and fundamental message. We must resolve to practically and sincerely change our ways and actions. We must increase our mutual understanding and tolerance to make our communities beautiful and peaceful, stable and prosperous.
As we face the transition elections of February 2023, we must reflect on what we want and what we need as a people. We need to be deeply concerned about the leadership deficit in this country. Because every action and its outcome comes down to how leadership is driven, it means we must not play or take leadership for granted in this day and age. We have suffered severe results due to poor leadership, so we must ensure that credibility, integrity, strong performance, and compassion guide our decisions.
At this stage, we must decipher between the good ones and the bad ones, those who go out to work and those who want to use privileged positions to enrich themselves and put people down. There are those in leadership positions today who are totally sorry even for those who voted for them. There are those who have no respect for their people, they were not voted for office, but rigged and imposed. This category of people have exposed their evil agenda in government and need not come close to power again. We need Representatives who can respect people regardless of their wealth and not those who got rich for people only to arrogantly reduce people to nothing. Enough is enough for the wise.
Before I round out this new year column, I implore all registered voters in Nigeria to sit up and stay tuned. We must all collect our PVCs to be able to vote. We must vote wisely. The BVAS are established to reduce or eliminate any fraudulent irregularities and we must go and collect them to use them on election day.
2023: Fear of BVAS, Beginning of Wisdom
With the growing awareness and information of voters by political parties and other civil society organizations about political participation and the increasing rate of voter registration, only hard work, lobbying and persuasiveness can give good results. A candidate can only be optimistic about winning the elections if he is sure that the people accept him. No government can easily impose on anyone else. There is no longer the old system of waiting in the wings and ambushes in the collation centers to change or exchange the results of the votes already cast at the polling stations. The anxiety and apprehension, insecurity and crisis associated with snacking have been taken off the shelf. The main work falls directly on the voting units from where the results are electronically transmitted to the INEC server after the last person has cast their ballot. Under the new arrangement, the vote count is done and the election results are announced in the presence of everyone from where the results are entered and broadcast. While there will still be manual copies of the results delivered to each participating political party, security agents, and INEC, the big novelty here is the immediate electronic transmission that was absent in previous exercises. In this way, everyone will see the result of all the units transmitted and monitored from the different situation rooms created by the different candidates, parties, security agents, observers and other monitoring groups. A situation in which the ruling party colludes with the INEC to cancel the results of the opposition parties in some areas is now history. This level of electoral surveillance, control and supervision has largely served as a serious check against any electoral malpractice or fraud. It is an improvement that has been greatly celebrated, although it was not easy to get to this level. Election criminals who cannot win elections through fair processes but rely on the old system to manipulate may no longer be comfortable with the new system. The new tide is definitely against you. The INEC must have taken seriously the possibility of criminal attempts to break the new processes and other technological manipulations and therefore put in place the proper safeguards that will make it very difficult and impossible.
Now that legal frameworks have been put in place to support the use of technology to make our elections more credible, it is incumbent on all democracy-loving citizens to seize and mobilize to elect competent and good leaders for the purpose of good governance.
With the BVAS, incidents of manual accreditation and incident forms that have encouraged electoral fraud in the past will end. All results must be uploaded (transmitted electronically immediately after voting) on the official INEC website at the voting units before taking them to the ward, constituency, LGA, state or collation centres. No more inter-party agreements to share the remaining unused ballot papers, no more mass printing and ballot box stuffing. If you like, go and steal the ballot box, you’re wasting your time. You cannot change the result. The votes of the people are now counting. But until you’re registered and have your PVC, and until you go to the polling place on Election Day to vote, this can’t happen. The choices have become easier now with the new technological development. The security of sensitive materials and that of the votes have been taken care of, so we must all have our PVC and vote. Now we have the power in our hands to choose the ones we want and if we don’t, we shouldn’t complain again. Now that the power is in our hands, we must not play with it. Now that the system has taken care of all forms of manipulation to reduce fraudulent practices, voters should enjoy taking advantage and doing the right thing. People must wait in the voting units to ensure that the exact results obtained are transmitted to the INEC server before leaving the premises. This is where fraud can take place under the new arrangement. Once the results are fraudulently exchanged or exchanged and transmitted, they are recorded on the server and there is nothing you can do about it except go to court. If you allow that to happen so you can go to court, you may be surprised by the nature of our judiciary. The recent elections for Ekiti and Osun are excellent examples of BVAS. The results were generally accepted because everyone saw the processes. The issue of buying votes is the next to be addressed. With continued advancements, the time will come when one can vote from the comfort of their bedroom, kitchen, or bathroom. For now, let’s all prepare as loyal citizens to do our part to vote for good candidates who provide good government and government with integrity.