On Saturday, March 9th, 2019, indigenes of Kaduna State will troop to their polling units to cast their votes, alongside their compatriots nationwide.
As with the Presidential election, the objective is to allow citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to choose their leaders. The Democratic freedoms we all enjoy today did not come cheap. Many of our compatriots lost their liberties and their lives in the struggle leading up to Nigeria getting to this stage of its evolution as a country.
Despite the remarkable progress we have made, the news coming out of Kaduna State is as worrisome as it is disturbing. As elders, it is our collective responsibility to maintain the peace by cautioning all political actors from heating up the polity and making it irreversibly radioactive.
We should never allow politics to become a do or die affair. The choice that our people will make should be driven by their desire for good governance and accountability. Religious and ethnic bigotry should not define how our people think and act at the polling stations.
To deepen our democracy, religious and traditional leaders can play a pivotal role in voter education and enlightenment. Political leaders must live above board and demonstrate their capacity to sell their ideas and performance credentials to the electorate – NOT to stoke up the embers of sentiments.
It is my firm belief that, where there is true patriotism and commitment to the true principles of democracy, peace, progress and tranquility will reign.
Mediocrity, hyper-ambition, nepotism, injustice and duplicity are the only weights under which societies crumble. Even at that, the embers of such unwholesome variables would first need to be fanned, by those who should know better – and delinquents enlisted as agents of mischief to unleash mayhem upon society. In addition, financial gratification is well known to be a major inducement in such matters.
While my position does not seek to apportion blame towards any quarter, I am nonetheless inclined to caution all political actors that progress can only occur where peace is a staple. Irrespective of the political ambitions of anyone, effective leadership thrives where diversity is harnessed as strength, consensus building is woven into the fabric of governance and social integration considered a value.
Surely, those entrusted and privileged to lead Kaduna State politically, across all divides, should live up the highest ideals of decency and morality. That is not too much to ask for!
I am deeply convinced that the preservation of human life and property, social cohesion, the bequeathing of an enviable legacy should take precedence over everything else. Religious, Political and traditional leaders should not just pay lip service. They must walk the talk and practically demonstrate their commitment to same by ensuring that that their wards, supporters and followers behave within the ambits of the laws governing civil conduct during and after the election period.
Nobody wins when lawlessness and polarisation, across whatever demographics, become a social norm.
I, however, remain optimistic that common sense and the will of God will prevail in our affairs.
Indeed, those who show restraint in the face of compelling challenges and provocation are the courageous!