ABUJA, Feb 24 (IPS) – Mr. Mohamed Yahya is Resident Consultant UNDP NigeriaOn the morning of 24 September 1998, Common Abdulsalam A. Abubakar, the then Army Head of State of Nigeria, took the stage on the United Nations Headquarters and knowledgeable the leaders assembled for the United Nations Common Meeting debates and the world at giant of his intention to return Nigeria to a democratically elected civilian authorities on 29 Might 1999.
Nigerians, nonetheless hopeful, had motive to be skeptical because of earlier unfulfilled guarantees of this nature. As promised, on 29 Might 1999, Common Abdulsalam A. Abubakar handed over the reins of presidency to a democratically elected president within the individual of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. This marked the transition to civilian rule by essentially the most populace nation on the African continent. This single transfer rekindled the hopes, desires, and aspirations of tens of millions of black and African youths, not solely in Nigeria, however around the globe.
Sadly, in current instances, many Nigerians have develop into cynical about democracy and its means to ship on its guarantees of growth, peace, and financial prosperity.
This cynicism that has pushed participation usually elections to report lows, and migration out of Nigeria to report highs. As Nigeria prepares for the 2023 nationwide elections, it’s value remembering that the flexibility to take part within the election of leaders at each stage, whereas not a magic bullet, is likely one of the strongest instruments within the quest for self-determination. One that’s much more highly effective than cynicism.
Within the 1999 Common Elections that pitted Olusegun Obasanjo the previous army ruler in opposition to Banker and former Finance Minister Olu Falae, the election turnout was 52.3% of the eligible voters in response to knowledge from the Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee INEC.
That quantity went as much as an all-time excessive of just about 70% within the 2003 elections that noticed then President Obasanjo win re-election. By 2019 elections, it plummeted to a participation charge of 35%. The regular and dramatic decline in participation in the previous couple of election cycles is troubling for a rustic with a lot at stake. The decline in voter participation is nicely attributed and, on the floor, seems to be pushed by cynicism within the democratic course of.
Nevertheless, the great thing about a multiethnic pluralist democracy like Nigeria, lies in its citizen’s means to criticize, admonish and finally substitute elected officers.
Consequently, peaceable dissent is likely one of the most lovely options of democracy. On the flip facet, when dissent evolves into cynicism and finally disengagement from the political course of, it considerably weakens democracy and its supposed advantages.
A London College of Economics research in 2008 urged that cynicism can have an effect on the well being of democracy, blurring the road between professional distaste for an administration with distaste for presidency altogether. The implications could be far reaching in breaking down the cohesiveness of society.
Dissuading individuals from taking part in politics, encouraging them to show away from credible sources of knowledge, inciting individuals to affix strain teams or, in additional excessive instances, resorting to violence in opposition to fellow residents and/or the state.
As the biggest black democracy on this planet, and largest economic system on the African continent, Nigeria wields an unimaginable political and cultural affect. A secure, safe, and profitable Nigeria not solely reveals the remainder of Africa what cooperation, resilience, and dedication to good governance, democratic rules, the amicable decision of variations, and the rule of regulation appears to be like like, it additionally demonstrates that democracy can work in advanced and growing nations.
After I arrived in Nigeria in 2019, what I discovered most fascinating was that the individuals throughout the nation weren’t obsessive about limitations, they had been ‘doers’, creators, and drawback solvers.
Within the 3.5 years since, the nation has confronted unprecedented challenges; the sharp decline in oil costs, adopted by a worldwide pandemic COVID-19 that disrupted the worldwide economic system, forex volatility and rising insecurity which has been exacerbated by violent insurgency in components of the nation.
Regardless of the challenges, and they’re deep and many, a number of indicators spotlight that Nigeria is on the trail to progress and democratic maturity. What it wants now could be a extra engaged, lively, and constructive citizenry, particularly from the 59 million Nigerian youth (18-35) who make up 53% of the full voting age inhabitants.
Though younger Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34 make up about 40% of registered voters, solely 46% of those voters turned out to vote within the 2019 presidential elections.
Throughout UNDP Nigeria’s and Yiaga Africa’s #SixtyPercentOfUs marketing campaign, youths had been mobilized and inspired to actively take part within the upcoming elections contributing to tens of millions new registered voters. In keeping with knowledge not too long ago launched by Nigeria’s Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee (INEC), there are 93,469,008 registered voters and complete variety of collected Everlasting Voter Playing cards (PVC) 87,209, 007 with a 93.3% report assortment charge of PVCs, in comparison with the previous elections.
Regardless of the variety of individuals being cynical with democracy, the chance to transform cynicism right into a constructive issue that helps to reignite the sense of nationhood and perception in democracy because the bedrock of prosperity for all is plain. The approaching elections current a renewed alternative to steer the nation, and by extension the continent, within the path of democratic consolidation and financial progress.
In my time because the Resident Consultant of UNDP in Nigeria, I’ve been privileged to go to not less than two-thirds of the states in Nigeria and had the dignity of interacting and interesting with Nigerians throughout the varied sectors of the society; from peculiar residents to the federal government and the personal sector and even the burgeoning inventive business.
Regardless of the challenges that Nigeria should grapple with, Nigeria’s promise is brightly lit throughout the varied and colourful Naija kaleidoscope. At UNDP, we stay dedicated to offering Nigeria with assist it wants to make sure that the promise of a affluent, a extra equal and peaceable Nigeria turns into a actuality for all its residents.
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