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Forty days to Nigeria’s biggest moment

A nation holds its breath as it counts days to epic 2023 elections which will go a long way in determining whether it moves forward or…

A nation holds its breath as it counts days to epic 2023 elections which will go a long way in determining whether it moves forward or backwards in its journey of nationhood.

That it has been quite the journey would be a massive understatement. There have been many occasions on which it looked like that journey would come to a shuddering halt.

That the journey has proceeded somewhat defiantly is testament to the resilience of the country – an extraordinary resilience that has defied even the caprices of military rule.

The Nigerian military may have no direct role to play in the upcoming elections. In fact, the provision of security for the elections should be left for sister security agencies.

However, whether it is charged with directly providing security for the elections or not, the ability of the Nigerian military to quell the storms building elsewhere will be key.

Since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, the storms have built up from year to year, each destructively more devastating than the last.

Before the man hailed as just what the doctor ordered for Nigeria in 2015 came on board, Nigerians had sufficiently stewed in bad leadership and were exhausted at last.

When a basket of rotten eggs was slapped on the face of the Peoples Democratic Party in the form of a historic defeat after sixteen years in power, Nigerians breathed a sigh of relief.

The hope around the country then was that with the breath of fresh air expected to come with power changing hands, a new lease of life beckoned for the country at last.

Those hopes were desperately short-lived for it took only a couple of months for even the most ardent advocate of change to realize that Nigeria had sold a hyena only to buy a hippopotamus.

It has now been eight years of anguish and blame games. Nigerians rightly feel anguished at the fact that the Buhari administration has not lived up to its early promise.

Nigerians also right blame themselves for having been hoodwinked so easily when the handwriting was writ large on the wall all along. Nigerians also blame the president.

On his part, the president and his team have spent a large chunk of the last eight years blaming the Peoples Democratic Party for the woes of the country.

The president and the All Progressives Congress has no doubt that he has done astonishingly well given the circumstances. For them, the problems stem from elsewhere.

That thousands have been slaughtered by ruthless terrorists around the country and countless communities razed since 2015 is because the PDP was in power for 16 years.

Nigerians have heard quite an earful in the last eight years. Young people have been branded lazy. Dissident groups in the country have been promised a language they will understand.

Yet, the problems remain. With barely forty days to go to crucial elections, is Nigeria ready to address the pains of the last eight years and say never again.

Are Nigerians ready to shape the next eight years of their lives and those of their children in the crucible of the ballot box?

Is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ready to conduct free and fair elections and spare the country the sparring of sore losers and saboteurs?

Are Nigeria’s security agencies ready to rout the terrorists whose biggest dream right now is to ensure that people are too afraid to fully participate in the elections?

It would appear that everyone in Nigeria has a role to play in ensuring successful polls. Given how dire Nigeria’s straits are at the moment, what exactly would be successful polls?

A number of presidential candidates currently parade themselves before Nigerians, each laying claim to the country’s highest office. But who does the cap fit if any?

That Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, is frequently mentioned in the same breath with drug-running fills quite a large number of Nigerians with trepidation.

His failing health and flailing words have many worried by the prospect of him cashing in on his bright chances at the polls to become Nigeria’s next president.

Given how alarming the All Progressives Congress has seemingly failed in power in the last eight years, many Nigerians are asking if anything good can come out of the party as long as the apple does not fall far from the tree.

For Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa, who is having a sixth shot at the country’s highest office, a difficult childhood tending cattle in the bushes of Jada make for a wonderful story.

A veteran political combatant and former vice president, Nigerians worry about his seeming wanderlust and the undying whispers that wed him to corruption.

An Atiku presidency would be a return to a past pockmarked by indiscretion and punctuated by impunity. But Nigerians may yet prefer the past to the present.

In Peter Obi, many young Nigerians see the Nigerian president they have always wished and even prayed for. Visionary, visceral and vivacious, the former Anambra Governor’s fighting talk about Nigeria’s problem is promising.

Yet, many cite the relative obscurity of the Labour Party and Nigeria’s historic voting patterns to predict that it would take a miracle for the man who has stolen even many hearts to win.

There are a couple of other contenders who are just in the race to fulfill all righteousness. They know they won’t win but they are ready to go again and again.

Whoever Nigerians settle for, there can be no mistake. The folly of the past cannot be reprised. Bad politicians must be denied access to Nigeria’s highest office.

Folly extracts an extortionate cost these days. Nigerians have been paying for the monumental folly that was first displayed eight years ago.

Nigerians may not have enough in the tank to go again if the mistakes of the past are reprised.

Kene Obiezu wrote via keneobiezu@gmail.com