The Independent National Electorate Commission (INEC) last week Wednesday, announced February 18, 2023 as the date of presidential election, 660 days from the date of announcement. The chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated that the complete time table will be released after the November 6, Anambra gubernatorial election. Immediately INEC announced the elections’ date, mixed reactions trailed it. PDP national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, expressed fear that the 2023 general elections may not hold unless government nips in bud the growing insecurity across the country.
Other Nigerians, disturbed by the continued killing of defenseless Nigerians, have also shared or held the same fears being expressed by Secondus and other security experts. Prior to 2015 general election, the country’s insecurity was limited to Boko Haram insurgents who had a firm grip of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. The country also witnessed suicide bombings in our places of worship, markets and public buildings. After the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, the war against Boko Haram was intensified leading to the technical defeat of the terrorists.
While Boko Haram was partially crushed leaving it to attack soft targets, the North-west states started experiencing banditry activities. It is very sad to state that Zamfara, Katsina,sokoto and Kaduna states have become the dens of bandits. These notorious bandits have continued to attack, kill and abduct helpless farming communities. The North-central states are battling with farmers/herdsmen crises. Our security personnel have increasingly become the target of Eastern Security Network (ESN). The daily horrific trending news emerging from the South-east states, where police and other men in uniform are being killed, justifies the escalation of tension in the country. With this alarming rate of insecurity pervading the country and the government perceived “siddon look” attitude towards addressing it, one is confused to say whether the 2023 election will be possible or not. Election can only be conducted in an atmosphere devoid of rancour. We are not sure if Boko Haram, bandits, kidnappers and other non-state actors will allow a peaceful election in the country. In a country where insecurity is usually politicised, there are suspicions or fears that our politicians would exploit the current mess to intimidate their opponents.
In 2015, INEC had to postpone election by some days to enable troops liberate Borno communities which were sacked by Boko Haram. While in 2015 it was Borno state alone, the insecurity has now spread to all nooks and crannies of the country. If the 2023 elections are to be conducted, the government should quickly move and contain the rising insecurity in the country. There is the need for government to seek foreign assistance in the war against insecurity in the country. Let truth be told, insecurity is threatening the 2023 elections. Unless government addresses it, Nigerians should forget about the election and by extension our fledgling democracy.
Pambegua, Kaduna state