As the elections have come and gone and winners have emerged, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, praised Nigerians for coming out to cast their votes and, in the process, freely expressed their wishes at the polls.
Specifically, the President praised his administration for conducting free and fair elections, without interference from any quarters. According to the President, and he is right, under the right atmosphere, Nigerians are capable of deciding who leads them without anyone telling them what to do.
“People are realising their power. Given the chance of a free and fair vote, nobody can tell them what to do. I am unhappy that some candidates lost in the election,” he said. “But I am inspired by the fact that voters were able to make their own decision, to decide who won and who lost. With the currency change, there was no money to spread around but even then, I told voters to take the money and vote according to their consciences.”
The President spoke during a farewell meeting with the outgoing United States Ambassador, Mary Beth Leonard, at the State House in Abuja. He said that he was satisfied with the role he played in the elections process that, ultimately, gave voters the freedom to elect their leaders without meddlesomeness or any form of interference.
Before the commencement of the elections, Nigerians strongly believed in the promises made by the President that he would ensure a free, fair and credible election. As a result, the nation became expectant and the people remained generally tolerant.
In the same vein, the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmoud Yakubu, also consistently told Nigerians before the start of the elections that the INEC was ready for the elections and measures were deliberately put in place to ensure free, fair, and just elections.
The polls were held over two separate days – the first which was for the national elections to elect people into one presidential seat, 109 senatorial seats and 360 House of Representatives seats held on Saturday, February 25, 2023.
The second strand which were for state level elections into 28 governorship seats, and 993 state Houses of Assembly seats were held on Saturday, March 18, 2023.
As against 2019 when 91 registered political parties contested the polls, in 2023, 18 political parties contested the elections. There were 176, 846 polling units though elections were not conducted in 240 of the PUs, leaving 176, 606 PUs.
There were 93,469,008 registered voters but only 87.2 million persons collected their Permanent Voter Cards. An estimated N478.6 billion was given to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the federal government over two budget cycles (2022 – N305 billion and 2023 – N173.6 billion) for the conduct of the elections.
Nigerian police was given funds for election security according to news report. These costs did not factor the sums spent on the polls by international donor partners such as the European Union, USAID, UKAID, UNDP, KAS and many others.
At the end of the exercise, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was able to retain the presidency and majority of the seats in the Senate, House of Representatives, state Houses of Assembly and governorship.
At the end, while there were some noticeable problems witnessed during the elections including violence in some areas, the 2023 general elections were, largely peaceful, credible and successful.
Noticeable upsets in the February 25 elections was the defeat of seven incumbent Governors of Kebbi, Benue, Plateau, Abia, Enugu, Taraba and Cross River states who lost their bids to go to Senate. And last Saturday, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state lost his re-election bid while the fate of his Adamawa state’s counterpart hangs in the balance.
To further show credibility in the just-concluded polls, even the president elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, lost his political base – Lagos – as the Labour Party (LP) won the state.The national chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Dr Iyorcha Ayu and his All Progressives Congress’ counterpart, Senator Abdullahi Adamu could not deliver their states to their parties on February 25.
Many states that were won by the PDP on February 25 such as Sokoto, Gombe, Yobe, Katsina and Kaduna were lost on March 18 to the APC while the PDP was able to poach Zamfara and Plateau from the APC and retain Oyo.
Indeed, the elections were mixed grill of euphoria of victory and agony of defeat. Carefully seen, however, the ultimate winners of 2023 general elections are the Nigerian electorate who, as the President as praised them, defied the odds to participate and ensured the success of the polls conduct.
On the presidential assent to 16 constitutional alteration bills…
President Muhammadu Buhari has, recently, assented to 19 bills in furtherance of Section 58 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Senior Special Assistant to The President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Babajide Omoworare, said so Friday.
In a statement issued in Abuja, Omoworare said that 16 these bills are alterations to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
He said that the assented constitutional alteration bills are the ensuring financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary; regulating of the first session and inauguration of members-elect of the National and State Houses of Assembly and for related matters; and ensuring that the President and Governors submit the names of persons nominated as Ministers or Commissioners within sixty days of taking the oath of office for confirmation by the Senate or State House of Assembly; and for related matters:
Others include enabling states generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid; and for related matters; excluding the period of intervening events in the computation of time for determining pre-election matters petitions etc; regulating the first session and inauguration of members-elect of National and State Assemblies; changing prisons to correctional service and re-designate correctional service in the concurrent list; and moving item “railway” from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.
The President also assented to three other bills namely the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology Act, the Nigerian Institute of International Relations Act, and the Federal Medical Centres (Amendment) Acts.
However, of all the acts, the one that seems to be of real interest to many is the one that deals with electricity which is seen as a move that will provide variant options for energy-starved Nigerians because the act is aimed at allowing state governments to generate and transmit their electricity.
The development excites business leaders in states, especially Lagos, the country’s commercial hub, which plays host to more than 2,000 industries and about 65 percent of the country’s commercial activities.
Nigeria’s grid has an installed capacity of roughly 12,522 megawatts, but due to poor infrastructure, it is only able to deliver around 4,000 megawatts, according to the US Agency for International Development.
Therefore, to bridge the gap between supply and demand, Nigerians are forced to generate power in small units from off-grid sources, usually fossil fuel-powered generators.
The new act is expected to break the monopoly of the federal government to generate and distribute electricity in Africa’s most populous country.
Thus, it is hoped that with the coming of this act which is seen as a means of devolution of power in the power sector, the country’s power sector will be changed forever.
No doubt, among the advantages of this act is its potential to reduce the cost of doing business in states, improve employment figures and, inextricably, increase commercial activities and reduce crimes rates in the country as it will open up the space in the power industry and allow states and or individuals with capacities to generate their power and distribute.
Tellingly, the development in the power sector would improve utilisation of generated power through increased investments in new technologies to enhance transmission and distribution of generated power to minimise aggregate value chain loses.