The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have held their presidential primaries to elect candidates to represent their parties in the 2023 presidential election. The way the primaries were conducted, the role that money played in determining the outcomes of the primaries, and the shifting behaviour of some of the frontline candidates have disappointed many people. All these show democracy is still a long way from becoming entrenched in our political system.
The emergence of Peter Obi as presidential candidate of the Labour Party is causing concerns among politicians in the leading parties and creating waves among youth across the country. Peter Obi represents positive change, not the kind of bogus change that was promised by the APC in 2015 that has left the country stagnant for seven years now.
The youth are encircling Obi because his political ideas represent a better future for the youth and the country. The movement he generated enjoys mass appeal. His political ideas are pragmatic and appealing. When he talks, he electrifies his audience. The youth believe in him because they see him as a symbol of that future that has eluded the country for decades. The challenge for Peter Obi and his supporters is to overcome the challenges of a conservative political system that still believes in ageing politicians as the saviours of the country.
In 2023, all eyes will be on Nigeria to see whether disaffected youth would lead the much-talked-about electoral revolution that would overturn the long-established practice in which Nigerian voters always elect geriatric politicians as Presidents.
Next year presents a unique opportunity for political change in Nigeria. Leading the vanguard of that change are youths who are determined to wrest political power from the monied class who believe that, with money, they can buy political power and influence. If Nigerian youth want to support Peter Obi to make a change, they must troop out to vote during the election. But before they can vote, they must ensure they have their permanent voter cards (PVCs) that will enable them to participate in the process.
A political transformation led by Nigerian youth will send an unmistakeable message that credible, free and fair election devoid of money politics has become an established part of our political culture. The future will tell.
One clear advantage that Peter Obi has over Atiku Abubakar (PDP) and Bola Ahmed Tinubu (APC) is age and the massive support of youth. But Obi lacks what Atiku and Tinubu have in abundance. That is surplus money. As experience has shown over the years, in Nigerian politics, money talks. With money, you can buy voters, their PVC, and their conscience. With money, you can buy election officials and security agents. With money, you can buy party agents and thugs. Whether money will influence the outcomes of the 2023 presidential election remains unknown.
If Obi wins the election, the first challenge he would face is to identify, during his campaigns, the problems that require urgent national attention. These include, but are not limited to, the collapse of national security, volatility in the supply of electricity, crippling unemployment, a disrupted and erratic university system, poor agricultural production and widespread corruption. Obi must find solutions to these problems. The problems have persisted because previous governments and the present one ignored them.
Perhaps the greatest challenge that will make or mar the administration of Obi is the collapse of national security, particularly the breakdown of law and order typified by the emergence of bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram terrorists. In 2015, many people thought President Muhammadu Buhari, with his military background and credentials, would construct a no-nonsense strategy to topple Boko Haram terrorists. That did not happen.
One way Obi could deal with growing insecurity in Nigeria is by empowering the army and the police through significant salary increases to make the police and army attractive occupations. Obi should support salary increases with regular training intended to advance the skills of soldiers and the police, and to equip them with knowledge of, and skills about, how to fight modern-day terror groups. This means Obi must invest heavily in procuring state-of-the-art technology to enable the police and soldiers to fight criminal groups. One such equipment is drone technology.
Drone technology helps to protect and preserve the lives of soldiers and the police. It does not require face-to-face combat. Drones enable troops to assail the enemy by getting close to them without being observed. Drones do the job while troops are stationed in their operational command centre far removed from the target base. Drones have been used and are still being used by advanced countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada and other developed countries to fight terrorists at home and overseas countries. There will be more benefits than deficits in using drones to fight terrorists in Nigeria, regardless of the ruggedness of the terrain.
As President, Obi will have the power to overwhelm criminal groups by doubling the financial, human and technological resources that are invested to strengthen internal security apparatus and the defence of the nation’s international borders.
Enhancing the welfare and combat readiness of the police is important for national security reasons. In 2019, acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, painted a grim picture of the dire security situation facing the country. He said lack of funds, insufficient and obsolete equipment, and shortage of trained personnel have weakened efforts by the police to reduce insecurity in the country. In 2022, our national security situation has degenerated to this level because past and present leaders left the problems unattended. Sadly, it will now cost the country a lot more to address growing insecurity and a police force ill-equipped to fight crime.
Here is the dismal paradox that confronts Nigeria. The police are required by law to protect life and property, yet the same police are denied access to vital resources, as well as adequate salaries that would position them to be in the right frame of mind to fight crime.
When criminals strike in our neighbourhoods, everyone blames police inability to respond promptly. When security challenges arise, people say the police have abdicated their responsibility to protect citizens. In the face of public outrage, no one talks about the environment in which the police are trained and brought up, and the awful conditions in which the police do their job. Certainly, the police cannot fight crime with dilapidated weapons, and the low esprit de corps of the men and women who serve in the force.
This is why Peter Obi’s first response to growing insecurity is to enhance the welfare of the police, the quality of training they receive, their salaries and allowances, and the superiority of the weapons they carry to fight criminals. These can be achieved through introduction of much needed reforms in the police. This must be Obi’s priority in his attempt to address national security challenges.
Electricity problem has overwhelmed previous governments and the current one. Olusegun Obasanjo was in office for eight years and, despite his rhetoric about the commitment of his government to eradicate the problem of capricious supply of electricity, he achieved nothing in the power sector.
Universities are on strike. There is no indication when the universities would reopen. Similarly, agricultural production has been abandoned. Government’s indifference to these important sectors of the national economy will carry consequences for the future growth and development of Nigeria. Obi must accord priority to the higher education sector and agricultural production.
A country that abandons university education will pay the price of cultivating illiterates in the society. The economy will not move, and national development will become a distant memory. Obi will be looking at a foggy future.
Peter Obi is undoubtedly on the right track regarding addressing Nigeria’s security issues.
Crime cannot be fought with dilapidated weapons and low morale among the police force.
It is essential to provide them with the necessary resources to do their job correctly.
I agree that Obi’s priority should be enhancing the welfare of the police force.
However, I believe universities and agricultural production should also prioritize.
A country that abandons university education will pay the price of cultivating illiterates in society.
The economy will not move, and national development will become a distant memory.
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