Reflections On 2003 Election


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Reflections On Count Down To 2003 Election In Nigeria




Professor Tony Ogiamien

January 3, 2003 

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal; they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and to institute a new government” --Thomas Jefferson


History has it that the socioeconomic status of countries in Africa and Asia were essentially the same at the beginning of the second half of the last century. Visionary leaderships in Asia lifted their people up out of poverty starting in the 1960s. The extraordinary economic success of East and Southeast Asia over the last 40 years, and the likelihood that this success will continue to expand to India during the next 25 years, is one of the great events of the second half of 21st Century.


African leaders in the same period presided and continue to preside over massive declines in African standards of living while carefully enriching themselves and their cronies. Single-party and military dictatorships gave Africa a bad name by plunging their people into poverty and despair, by inciting civil wars and bitter ethnic conflicts by way of dividing and confusing their people in order their own longevity in power.


The dictators, including former military generals turn civilian national presidents are largely responsible for declining GDP levels, food scarcities, declining life expectancy, rising infant mortality rates, soaring budget deficits, human rights abuses, breaches of the rule of law, and prolonged serfdom for millions of their citizens. These so-called African leaders, many of whom win elections by claiming a democratic façade, have proven themselves to be hard to change and even harder to oust once they are installed. These “elected” tyrants have advantages that are hard for even popular opposition groups to overcome. These advantages include incumbency, state financing for official political parties, state control of television, radio, newspapers, friendly military and security forces, crackdown on opposition rallies, use of vigilante groups, control over the voter rolls/registration, and tricks like gerrymandering, stuffing ballot boxes, and fiddling with the election count itself. Most of all, ruling parties know how to intimidate voters, particularly semiliterate and voters acquainted with a dominant ruling party. On the latter see, the Text of A Press Conference Addressed By Senator Roland S. Owie (Edo South) on his unlawful detention by the Edo State Police Commissioner, Mr Tunji Alapinni


To discourage the rise of such mindless dictators and sit-in presidents, good leadership should be rewarded, participatory leadership supported, and sensible economic management backed. Bad leadership, on the other hand, need to be accountable and taken to task on their mismanagement of human as well as capital resources.

However, the policy of “constructive engagement” by the international community towards these leaders has kept them in business only to perpetuate their misguided behaviors, thereby influencing successive generations negatively.


Fully aware of the negative ramifications of the PDP leadership in Nigeria, Nigerians need to take matters into their hand and challenge the current government to accommodate drastic changes by opening up to a civil and democratic competition. The crucial question is whether President Obasanjo (OBJ) is willing to allow this process?


From all accounts, OBJ is determined to remain in Aso Rock for another term in violation of the political arrangement that ushered him in to power in 1999. He has forgotten that he was taken out of prison to midwife the transition to civil rule. It was reckoned that one term administration was sufficient for the midwifery and nothing more.

Nigerians are now more than ever interested in a purely civilian arrangement. As a consequence, the OBJ administration must be foreseen to have outlived his usefulness. Therefore, Aso Rock is vacant for occupation on May 29, 2003 by another party even though the current office holders tell their competitors that there is no vacancy.


With 5 months safely ahead of us, 2003 Election will remain a crucial issue in Nigerian politics until a credible party like All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP among others defeats OBJ in the forthcoming election.

Critics of ANPP will be taken by surprise when the flagbearer is known in several hours to come going by the Pacific Time. As a broadminded party of good party loyalists, ANPP is surely working towards coming up with a consensus presidential candidate – a candidate that would be acceptable to all the presidential aspirants, says Alhaji Lema Jubrilu. Vanguard Monday 30, 2002. According to him, OBJ administration has failed misearably and woefully because all the sectors of the economy are in shambles. “Things have never been so bad in Nigeria as it is now…. the only solution was a change in leadership.” This is what ANPP is now set to accomplish all things equal.

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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.