As the clock ticks, the year grinds, days turn into weeks, February 16, 2019 keeps getting close.
Nigeria will soon experience another beehive of political activities with its attendant intricacies in preparation for next year’s general elections.
It is a race against time and for those who still believe that the ballot box holds the magic wand with which a country like ours will be salvaged, there is little or no time.
Nigeria has found itself interlaced in-between two political gladiators that might yet again decide it’s destiny.
Inec has on its part, and first time in its history too, released the timelines for the elections a year before Nigerians go to the polls to elect those that will pioneer the affairs of the country for another term of four years.
This early release of time line, according to the Commission, is to enable political parties select those they find worthy of representing them at the elections and conduct others affairs that would hamper the much touted free and fair elections.
However, the country seems to be at dilemma as there has been no strong organized opposition to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) at the National level. The only opposition that the ruling party have had to contend with are the plethora of angry youths on different social media platforms who are being frustrated daily at the turn of events.
The People Democratic Party (PDP) which is supposed to provide a matching opposition to the ruling APC seems to lack both the will and direction on many fronts.
Having lost power unexpectedly, it also came with its own consequences, one of which being the constant hurling of their members by the APC controlled Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
However, it is evident that the PDP have not dusted themselves from the defeat it suffered in 2015 to sell themselves to Nigerians again, considering the fact that the APC under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari have not made an impressive outing 3 years after he ascended to power.
The PDP is only strong, perhaps, at states level and unless they will spring up a surprise to unseat the general, the election is tilting towards a known direction.
Many factors have made the change promised by the ruling party a farce and something that has fallen flat on its face:
The anti-corruption drive by the President seems only targeted at the members of opposition party. In short, it has collapsed while the pieces are being mopped up . The EFCC seems to look the other way when members of the ruling party’s hands are found in the cookies jar. The Commission has not recorded any significant conviction since 2015, even when the culprit’s hands were found to be dripping with corruption.
The security challenges facing the country, especially as regards the regularly occurring killings due to herdsmen-farmers clash around the country, with the police seeming to lack the will to apprehend those responsible have equally blighted every hope that the ex general will lead from the front as he promised. We have, over the years, witnessed unexplained circumstances where these herdsmen walk free even when their hands are dripping with blood.
The economy slipped out of recession but have not recorded any significant growth with jobs still being lost at an unbelievable rate. The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in its annual report stated that about 4 million jobs have been lost since the 2015 that the APC came to power. That is more than the entire population of a state like Bayelsa.
With calls for restructuring gaining traction across the country, the APC have been bold in denying the fact that they ever promised in their manifesto to restructure the country along regional lines.
These glaring indices are the pointers with which a strong opposition will take on the ruling party, sell itself to the electorates and wrestle power from the APC but that seems to be far from their agenda.
In short, the PDP which has equal capacity to the ruling party has not just been lagging behind in playing effectively, its role as the opposition, it has floundered in its recent outing both in Ondo, Edo and Anambra.
Nationally, the party is weak, except, perhaps, at the state level and mainly in the South where people still believe in the party. And depending on whomever they field as candidate for the office of the President, the party might be broken beyond repair.
Its final destiny might be determined when voters in Ekiti and Osun states go to the polls later in the year to decide who would run the affairs of the respective states for another four-year term.
Nevertheless, people have been calling for a third force that would balance out the choke hold the two gladiators have on our polity. Such calls as patriotic as they are, suffer from poverty of two factors: timing and the political muscle to get to the grassroots.
INEC said it has registered a total number of 68 political parties with 22 out of the 68 newly registered.
However, an average Nigerian still have little knowledge as to what these newly registered parties stand for or if they will ever field candidates that would make significant impacts at the elections.
Considering the fact that the Nigerian voters have been impoverished over time, with money, religion and ethnicity obviously going to play huge roles in the forthcoming general election, how are these new political parties going to muster the financial muscle that the PDP and APC have amassed over the years to beat the choke hold the two gladiators have at the grassroots level?
How are they going to sell themselves to the electorates within this short period of time especially at a time everyone has resigned to faith of the elections being between PDP and APC?
How have they tried to out-muscle the PDP and APC at the grassroots level where a chunk of the voters are?
How have they tapped into the anger of millions of youth on social media who see the battle as that between the PDP and APC?
Their strategy matters between now and February 16 while the people yearn for real change.