Protect Your Votes, Sultan Tells Nigerians

  • Let’s start trusting young people as president, says Sanusi

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has called on Nigerians to go out on Saturday, vote the presidential candidate of their choice and ensure they protect their votes.

The Sultan made the call Thursday in Abuja during the 2019 Murtala Muhammed Memorial Lecture, organised by Murtala Muhammed Foundation, with the theme, ‘Towards Credible, Peaceful and Participatory Election- Moving Nigeria’s Democracy Forward.’

He stated: “Why so much concern about the presidential election in Nigeria especially by foreign partners? We need to ask ourselves. But the simple issue is that Nigeria’s 200 million population is such a big concern to everybody. “The reason is that the survivability of Nigeria is so important to the world that everybody must come together to see credible and peaceful elections in Nigeria, where whoever emerges will be accepted by all and must be accepted by all.”

The Sultan noted that those at the top feel they are at the top and they control everything, stressing that it is the people who control everything.

He said: “That is why I want to call on Nigerians to go out and exercise their rights; vote for the candidate you feel is best for you and ensure you protect your vote.”

Also, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammed Sanusi (II), said that there was need for the political parties and for the system to begin to put trust in young people, not just because they are in majority but because the country’s history has shown that Nigeria achieved more with young people in charge.

He stressed: “The political parties and the system need to begin to put trust in young people, not just because they are the majority as people say but because when you go to the history of our country you find it that all the great things were done by young people. When you think of Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, Yakubu Gowon, Muritala Muhammed, and Olusegun Obasanjo in his first term as military Head of State.

“I certainly think Obasanjo, in his first term when he was in his 30s, was a better Head of State than his second term when he was in his 70s.

“So, it is important I think, given the history of our country to recommend that young people have shown that they are capable, that they have vision, that they have the energy, that they have the belief in the country and we need to consciously promote them and hopefully, next elections 2023 we will begin to see much more younger people.

“I hope those who are older will be there to guide them, counsel them, the way Maitama Sule was counseling Gen. Muritala Muhammed.

“But it is extremely important that older generation while they are alive to hand over this country to the next generation, watch them so that when they are gone they are happy.”

Earlier, the Chief Executive Officer of the foundation, Ms. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, said that this year’s edition was rather auspicious coming just few days to the elections.

She stressed that while some progress have been made in the country’s electoral progress, a lot still needs to be improved on to improve democratic progress and entrench good governance.

Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, while delivering his keynote address titled: ‘Towards Credible Elections,’ said that the country appears to have made some progress in its electoral process.

He added that in the estimation of most people, the 2011 elections were better than the 2007 one and the 2015 elections were better than 2011. There are metrics to prove this trend.

Odinkalu said: “In 2007, 1,299 offices out of a total of 1,496 elective offices contested ended up in election petition tribunals, yielding an astounding 86.5%. In 2011, 769 petitions were filed, totaling 51.4% of all contested positions, or a net dissatisfaction rate (from the election petition output) of 35.1%. 2015 was the first time that Nigeria’s presidential election did not end up in court.

“It was also the first time that the proportion of elections ending up in courts was less than 50 per cent (it was about 46.1%). In 2019, Nigeria has the unique opportunity to either sustain this trend of incremental progress or to reverse it.”

Odinkalu noted that the reason for this enhancement was the independence of the INEC, stressing that the independence was the end product of a multiplicity of factors, including the quality of appointees, fiscal and budgetary arrangements, the legal architecture and inter-agency collaboration and support.

According to him, “As these have grown in Nigeria, INEC appears to have enhanced its respectability and credibility. If this progress is sustained, much fewer electoral contests will end up in courts. That should reduce the stress on the court system and hopefully improve the quality of their decision making as well as the integrity and impartiality that goes into that.”