FCT council polls: A glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s democracy | Dailytrust

FCT council polls: A glimmer of hope for Nigeria’s democracy

By Musa Wada

 

In the election held recently across the six area councils of the FCT, the ruling party, APC won in three of the six area councils’ chairmanship seats, while the opposition PDP, also won in the three remaining area councils chairmanships seat. 

The PDP also trounced the ruling party by winning the majority of the councillorships seat contested for in the elections. This is certainly a joyous moment in the annals of our nascent democracy when authorities allow the people to decide without hindrance, those who govern them.

The change mantra the president has been preaching about is already showing a glimmer of acceptability in our country and it is to the glory of the Minister of the FCT, Mallam Mohammed Musa Bello that it is happening firstly without a doubt in the FCT.

Many people have praised the minister and the ruling APC for having the courage to allow this systematic change to happen. The praise being showered on the minister and the APC is basically for the peaceful conduct of the council polls.

Since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, most, if not all the local government elections conducted by the state independent electoral commissions across the federation are usually won by the parties in power in the states, leaving nothing for the opposition.   

As a result, some persons have called and clamoured for the transfer of the power to conduct the local government polls from the SIECs to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).  

The successful, peaceful, free, and fair conduct of the election in the FCT is a signal of the good political atmosphere in the FCT. This development is a glimmer of hope for constitutional democracy and a mark of integrity on the part of the political and electoral leadership in the FCT, led by the able minister and this is with specific reference to the just concluded council polls.

Before now, only very few discerning Nigerians have an iota of respect for the electoral bodies and indeed authorities because of the prevalence of the syndrome of he who pays the piper, dictates its tune. More often than not, the prefix of the SIECs is missing and it is always a zero-sum mindset for the party in power on whom the electoral umpires depend to announce results.

Those who head such electoral umpires also are aware as they are always in cahoot with politicians in power to rob the people of their voice and votes. They declare whichever party in power as having almost, if not 100 percent of all positions for the ruling party in all the positions in the state. This did not happen in the FCT due to the integrity of the authorities led by Minister Mallam Muhammadu Bello.

We, therefore, praise the minister for the manner he handled the electoral process despite losing in half of the council wards contested by his party, the APC to the main opposition party, the PDP. We urge other political leaders to allow democracy to take its natural course in their respective domains and states.  

The minister’s actions have gone to show that there is no disputing the significance of good politics to the wellbeing of society. Religious freedom, economic development, a healthy environment, human security, peaceful co-existence, good governance, and general progress are off-shoots of political choices and policies. We are convinced that if Nigeria gets its political issues right at all levels, everything shall be alright across the board with positive multiplier effects on society.  

Abuja is today upholding a new chapter in elections in Nigeria using technologies and respecting the views of those who have chosen differently. The FCT election validates the government’s efforts to invest in technology to promote electoral integrity and transparency. This is championed by a government that is determined to respect the outcomes of polls whether it wins or not.

With utmost humility, we wish, to express our profound gratitude to the people of the FCT for the largely peaceful and orderly conduct of the council polls. We pay tribute to the people of the FCT for their maturity and sophistication in exercising their democratic right to a free choice of electing their leaders at all levels.

The concluded FCT polls have demonstrated that the FCT-led administration in the territory walks its talk and stands resolutely for free and free elections. The minister placed the credibility and integrity of the electoral process above the discredited practices of previous governments that sought to win ever contested elections by all means. This election has shown that there are no obstacles to the successful usage of electronic voting machines in Nigeria if the political will is there.  

We hope the newly elected officials will reciprocate this gesture by the minister and run their councils in an inspiring new way. By being elected, they assume a sacred obligation to deliver to the people and move closer to realising the goals for which they were been elected because of the firm belief that democratic governance at the local level must have a substantive, real impact on the life of their people.  

Finally, we thank and congratulate the FCT electoral body for completing a revolution in election management in the territory. We congratulate also the security agencies for providing a safe canopy for the people to joyfully exercise their democratic preferences.

 

Musa Wada writes from Abuja

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