FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015: HOW FEASIBLE?

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FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015: HOW FEASIBLE?

THE WINNING SPEECH DELIVERED AT THE FINAL ROUND, IN-HOUSE SPEAKING CHAMPIONSHIP, ORGANISED BY THE LITERARY AND DEBATING SOCIETY, FACULTY OF LAW, UI.

Duration: 5 minutes.

Date: 14th Day Of March, 2014.


It is indeed a historic day. A day that has been anticipated for four long years. A day that has generated much dispute and quarrels. A day, the only day, that sovereignty truly belongs to the people. On this day, we see people: male and female, juvenile and senile, children and their parents, the leaders and the led; everybody marching to the same location, harbouring the same intention, to engage in the same action. The day is the 14th day of February, a Saturday, the Election Day. And coincidentally, Valentine’s Day.

Good afternoon friends, brethren, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo, and I am here at this event to share my thought on the question: FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN 2015, HOW FEASIBLE?

Let us cast our minds back in history. On June 12, 1993, millions of Nigerians voted in an election that is widely acknowledged as the best in the history of the nation. The elections were properly planned and conducted. There were pre-election debates, making it easy to know the candidate who is truly brilliant and the one who only has a charming smile. People voted and when it was obvious that MKO Abiola would be declared winner, his rival, Bashir Tofa was said to have sent him a congratulatory message, showing a spirit of comradeship. Records have it that has the results were being declared, prices of goods and services were dropping. Some businessmen even refused to be paid because they were glad that hope has finally come to the people. Unfortunately, this memorable election was annulled by the then Military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida.

Fast-forward to 20 years later, elections in Nigeria are nothing to write home about. It is in Nigeria that politicians tear one another’s posters all because of power. It is in Nigeria that you will see a presidential aspirant being invited for a debate by the people and rather than grace the invitation, he decides to be grooving with a popular musician. Yet, he still wins. It is in Nigeria that you find party loyalists at polling booths offering ₦500 and cups of Garri to voters to ‘buy’ their mandate. It is in Nigeria that thuggery during the electioneering process is a normal thing. When thugs do show up at a polling unit, the voters gladly welcome them asking why they came late. In short, 20 years later, elections in Nigeria are increasingly decreasing in credibility. They are only getting better at getting worse.

Now, 2015 is in the corner. We are still seeing a lot of abnormalities in the system. The recent activities of INEC have brought little or no hope, most especially the November 16, 2013 gubernatorial election in Anambra state which left many in a state of utter confusion. Nigerians have lost confidence in the commission, so much so that we invented a new expression, Jega, meaning ‘the act of stupidly wasting the time of a lot of people whilst keeping them under the sun.’

But then, Professor Attahiru Jega has (has contained in an article of the Sun newspaper published Tuesday, March 11) promised us that new machineries are in place to prevent rigging in the coming elections. It will not be business as usual. Permanent voters’ cards will be distributed without which a person cannot vote. On getting to the polling unit, a machine will be present to verify the voter’s passport and fingerprint, making it impossible for politicians to buy voters’ cards.

That said, I believe that very soon, the story will change. I believe that the 2015 election will not only be free, it will not only be fair; it will be first class. In fact, better than what we saw in 1993. If only we are willing to sacrifice. If only our leaders will do away with thirst for power; if they will be concerned about the welfare of the people and not the well-being of their pockets. If they will be true statesmen and not politricksters, because as James C Freeman aptly said; ‘a politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.’

In conclusion, I would say: Let us be positive thinkers. A positive thinker sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible. Let us be positive thinkers, and in essence great achievers, by seeing that freedom and fairness in the 2015 election is much feasible.

God bless Nigeria! God bless you!

Thank you!

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NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

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NIGERIA: A FAILED STATE?

Presented As A Debate For The Purpose Of The “In-House Speaking Championship”, The Semi-Final.

Courtesy: Faculty Of Law, UI, Literary And Debating Society.

Date: 28th February, 2014.

MAIN SPEECH

I almost wept when I saw a picture of a newspaper headline that says ‘NEPA: No more black-out!’ I was sad, not because I’m seeing such promise for the first time or because I do not want the power supply in Nigeria to be stable. I was sad because the article was published as far back as 1988.

And we all know the condition of the power sector till this very date.

Nigeria: A failed state?

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Adebajo Adekunle Adefisayo is my name, and I am here on this occasion to propose the bitter but factual submission that Nigeria is a failed state.

Before I delve deep into speechmaking, I think just as it is pertinent that we know what leadership truly is before we publicly declare Mobutu Sese Seko the Mandela of D.R. Congo, we also need to know what ‘a failed state’ means before we can wear its cloak for Nigeria.

A failed state, according to the Fund for Peace, means ‘a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government … [1] the central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory [2] non-provision of public services [3] widespread corruption and criminality and [4] sharp economic decline.’ Now, let’s take a look at these one after the other.

One, the central government is so weak that it has little control over much of its territory. The validation for this is simple. Let me ask us, if the federal government asks us to resume school for the next session on June 1st, and again, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko haram says nobody must go to school, whose order will we comply with? The answer to this goes to show that that the state has not only lost control over its territory, it has lost control over its citizenry too.

Two is the non-provision of public services. It is well known that Nigeria is such a country where the people are the government. Not in the sense that they decide how the affairs of the state are administrated, but that they provide virtually everything for themselves. It is the duty of the government to provide electricity, but we find people struggling to buy generators, struggling to ‘better pass their neighbours’. It is the duty of government to provide tap-water. Yet we find boreholes here and there dug buy private individuals. It is the duty of the state to give us good roads, but we still find people building bridges themselves and collecting tolls, we see people filling potholes with little stones.

Thirdly, we have widespread corruption and criminality. Nothing can be truer than this. The country is so corrupt that on typing ‘Nigeria’ on the Google search engine, it quickly suggests ‘a corrupt country?’ A country where the President can afford to spend 1 billion naira on food per annum, even though he vowed to be eating Cassava bread and majority of populace is starving to death. A country where 20 billion dollars can vanish into thin air and no one will raise an eyebrow. A country where armed robbery, kidnapping and bombing are the orders of the day. If such country has not failed, then perhaps I need to go back to my dictionary and check the meaning of failure.

I wish to sum up my points with the result of a recent survey conducted by the United States think-tank, an independent research organisation; the Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy magazine. Nigeria was ranked as the 15th most failed nation in the world out of 177 countries. Even, she has moved upward 3 places from the 18th position in 2008. Meaning Nigeria is not just a failed state, she is gradually on her way to overthrow Somalia and hence become the king of failed states in the world.

This survey goes to show that the fact that Nigeria is a failed state is not only a well-grounded opinion of Nigerians; it is a universally acclaimed, globally established, self-evident truth.

In conclusion, I wish to seek validation in the sagacious diction of Demosthenes: Res ipsa loquitur, the facts speak for themselves, if only we will pay attention.

REBUTTAL

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it’ – Flannery O’Connor.

My contending debater has said that Nigeria can be said not to be a failed state because we have remain united. But let me ask. If I manufacture a vehicular contraption, a jalopy so to speak, that cannot move an inch. It does not work. Can we say it is a successful invention just because of the fact that the spare parts hold on together?

Again, he said Nigeria has produced numerous elites and scholars renowned world-wide. But I must say that this is in no way a function of our being successful, it is solely a function of our large population.

Ladies and Gentlemen, with all these facts, I am forced to propose that it will not be out of place if we rechristen the state from the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’ to the ‘Failed Republic of Disaster’.

Confucius said ‘do not use a canon to kill a mosquito’. Thus, I will rest my case here believing we are convinced beyond any inkling of doubt that indeed Nigeria is a failed state.