WELCOME TO 2023! 

 Nigerians should embrace a new spirit that places emphasis on unity of purpose

Despite the best efforts of the outgoing administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians are being ushered into 2023 with some diffidence. The prevalent public disillusionment occasioned by severe economic hardship is being capped by the loss of dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors in several theatres across the country. With humongous illegal funds from oil theft, sundry criminal cartels have contributed significantly to our national security challenge. But the situation could be worsened if politicians and other stakeholders abandon governance and related duties to the people in the campaigns for the 2023 general election that is less than two months away. 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has since released the timetable, beginning with the presidential election in February. Even if we admit that the elections are important, abandoning governance as many have done, especially at the subnational level, is unconscionable. We urge a rethink. Besides, it is also important that the electioneering be done with discipline and decorum. Inflammatory rhetoric is unhelpful, given the rising tension and violence occasioned by divisive comments and a polity obsessed with ethnicity and religion. 

Meanwhile, political office seekers must put on their thinking caps on how to address the challenges that plague the nation. Today, many basic services such as education, health and infrastructure are decrepit, while a demographic crisis is looming large on the horizon. With a large segment of the population roaming the streets without any means of livelihood and hope for the next meal, it is little wonder why social tension in the country has reached a boiling point, taking several forms, including violent agitations. 

On the economic front, nothing perhaps poisons the public mood better than the present hardship that many Nigerians experience at filling stations due to petrol shortages across the nation. We cannot emphasise enough the fact that an oil producing country should have no business with scarcity of refined petroleum products. To have this consistently go on is to conclude that we have poorly equipped managers running our national life and their decisions are hurting all of us. Sadly, this crisis will persist because petrol is still being subsidised – at huge cost for that matter, a luxury that the government could ill-afford. 

However, the biggest task at hand is the 2023 general election that is almost upon us. We urge all politicians and their associates to steer the country from religious and sectional conflicts in their campaigns. The onus of course is also on the authorities to map out workable strategies that would guarantee safety of those who will engage the electoral process as voters or polling officials. All this, in addition to the deployment of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and INEC Result Viewing Portal (IReV) will, to an extent, restore confidence and trust in the Nigerian electoral system. It is also our hope that both the bar and the bench in Nigeria will, by their conduct before, during and after the elections help to strengthen rather than weaken our democracy. 

Against the background that all manner of frivolous suits that could affect the elections are being filed by politicians and their agents, it is important for the judiciary to insulate itself from partisan politics and guard its independence and impartiality jealously. And the only way to do that is if our judges imbibe the virtue of living above board. As we have repeatedly said here, the function of law as instrument of social engineering should never be compromised on the altar of expediency and corruption.

Above all, we hope Nigerians will embrace a new spirit that places emphasis on unity of purpose as we seek to advance our country for peace and prosperity. 

 We wish all our readers happy new year!

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