By Janice Johnson
When the 2015 elections were postponed from February 14 to March 28th, there were mixed reactions from Nigerians. Some expressed anger while others commended INEC for taking such a decision. The opposition party and the international community especially, expressed disappointment over the Postponement. The opposition went as far as threatening that all hell will break loose if the elections are postponed a second time.
Finally, after the controversial 6 weeks delay which created investor uncertainty and affected Nigeria’s economy negatively, March 28 is almost here. In the next couple of hours, the presidential elections will take place and Nigerians will decide who will lead this nation for the next four years. The atmosphere is filled with anticipation, anxiety and fear. There is also great concern over security on the polling day, from Boko Haram Jihadists’ attacks to politically motivated violence. Political violence has plagued previous Nigerian elections and in 2011 saw nearly 1,000 people killed in clashes.
There are fourteen candidates vying for this position, however the election seems like a two-horse race between APC and PDP Presidential candidates. The ruling Party, PDP’s candidate President Goodluck Jonathan is facing a strong challenge from the Major opposition Party, APC. Isolated clashes between rival parties have been recorded nationwide with the campaigns being marred by hate speeches that could trigger violence. There are indications that, a close result could lead to further unrest in the country. Some party members are also cross carpeting from one party to another. On Monday, the Deputy Governor of Rivers state decamped from APC to PDP and on Wednesday, just two days to the general elections, Ondo State Deputy Governor also decamped from PDP to APC.
However, as preparations are being intensified for the general elections, the two Presidential candidates have reiterated their commitment to peace by signing another peace pact. They both promised to respect the outcome of a credible poll and urged their supporters to avoid violence and embrace peace regardless of who wins.
With the Presidential elections slated for Saturday, Nigeria has tightened security by closing all land and sea borders as the presidential election is expected to be the most hotly contested since the end of military rule in 1999. The IGP has also announced that there will be no vehicular movement from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and that loitering around at polling units will not be condoned. He advised Nigerians to Stay 300 meters away from polling stations after exercising their franchise.
For an oil rich country like Nigeria, where over 80% of the population sleep in total darkness and many provide their own electricity by buying expensive gasoline to fuel their air-polluting generators, Nigerians are surely in dire need of real dividends of democracy that can positively impact the society and their lives.
Therefore, as Nigerians, our lot is to perform our civic duties. Vote wisely; refuse to indulge in any electoral malpractice. Vote for a better Nigeria, where there will be less fuel consumption on generators, noise pollution will be eradicated and expenditure will be cut down to the barest minimum. A Nigeria where rule of Law will be functional, where bribery and corruption will become a thing of the past and the poor will have equal rights and opportunities as the rich.
Remember, the International community and the whole world is watching and expecting Nigeria to conduct a free, fair and peaceful election. Let us prove to them (and to ourselves) that we can do it better than their expectations. Let us make our votes count. God bless Nigeria!