As We Approach Our Nation’s Defining Moment

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The 2011 general elections in Nigeria which come up in April will indeed be the nation’s defining moment. Let no one be in doubt, it will be as decisive as the Egyptian-style revolution sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East. Never in the history of our country has there been such a massive awareness and excitement on the part of the electorate to participate in the election as it is now being witnessed.

The ease with which people communicate now on telephone and the influence of social networking sites on the internet have contributed immensely to the massive awareness we are witnessing today.

What precipitated the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and the ongoing ones in other Maghreb nations was the use of information tools such as the telephone and social networking sites such as facebook and twitter to mobilise the ordinary, longsuffering people for social change.

Many envisage that the gale of revolution will spread to such sub-saharan Africa where some presidents have spent close to three decades in power without showing any sign of quitting soon.

Nigeria’s case is slightly different, only that the country is also afflicted by inept and corrupt leaders that would want to hang on to power at all costs. This cabal has been in power for too long.

We believe that the general elections will go a long way in either deepening our democracy or ruining it. The latter option is too grim to contemplate because observers have warned that the Egyptian-style revolution could happen here.

Nigerians are poised to prevent their votes from being stolen as has been the case since 1999. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua confessed during his inauguration on 29 May 2007 that the electoral process that brought his Peoples Democratic Party, PDP-led government to power was flawed. And he promised to overhaul the electoral machinery to prevent pitfalls of the past. But it appears the politicians haven’t learnt any lesson considering the manner in which they have been attacking their political opponents and engaging in multiple registration of their supporters for the forthcoming elections.

If anything, the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East should serve as a foreboding signal for Nigerian politicians and all those who think they could hijack the electoral process that the youth of today are so wise and well informed that they won’t allow their future to be destroyed by those who want to get into office at all costs.

Already, citizens of Cameroon, our next door neighbour, are bracing up to sack their sit-tight president, Paul Biya. He has been in power for 29 years.  We believe that if it could happen in Cameroon, it could happen here too, but in our own case, the people will  fight against those who will steal their ballots during the forthcoming elections.