By Issa Itopa Lucky
It is not hearsay anymore that the Nigerian electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has barring last minute changes, fixed the dates for the federal and state elections scheduled for the next general election cycle being the one of the now much-talked-about 2023 general elections.
In 2023, Nigerians will be going to the polls to elect new set of leaders especially for the presidency, the National Assembly and then for most of the states, governorship and for all across board excluding the FCT, state house of assemblies.
For many, the 2023 polls is a make-or-mar exercise for the survival of the Nigerian state. It is a time Nigerians will put a decisive pay since 1999 when it started its fourth republic, to whether the country will proceed as a better union or not or worst still, if it may go separate ways for obvious reasons.
It is a fact, that going by the way things are turning out in the proceedings of the country, the least Nigeria needs in 2023 to lead its ship is a unifier. Anything short of that is obvious doom for the continued existence of the country as one nation bound together.
2023 is so much of a tipping-point; Nigerians cannot afford to miss the opportunity to via their votes, right the ills of the past and of the moment.
The core need of the Nigerian state now is unity. Hence, when Nigerians go to the polls in 2023, inspite of the possible clamour for secession in some quarters which of course till a referendum is held, cannot be said to be speaking for a majority yet; they (Nigerians) must shop specifically for a unifier.
Since the last days before the Nigerian civil war of 1967 and 1970, Nigeria has never been this polarised across various worrisome fault lines like it is now.
For the sake of emphasis, the country parades a few potential hands that parade a personal character that shows how much of a unifier they individually are, if Nigerians may so consider. Some of them at the moment include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President; Senator Rochas Okorocha, former Imo Governor and currently serving Imo west senator; Alhaji Yahaya Bello, incumbent Governor of Kogi state; to mention but a few.
Atiku Abubakar is a well-known unifier, considering his mode of politics, especially with emphasis on how he lined up the best federal cabinet Nigeria has ever paraded since its return to democracy between 1999 and 2007 when he served as Nigeria’s vice president during the presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Atiku hails from Adamawa State, Northeast Nigeria. By virtue of marriage, he is an in-law to the Yorubas, the Hausas and the Igbos, the three major tribes in Nigeria.
Rochas Okorocha is another unifier. He is an Igbo man that is well versed in Hausa language, having lived much of his life in the North. He also did much on national peace terms in the early 2000s shortly after Nigeria’s return to democracy for its fourth republic in 1999, when he founded the national peace committee shortly before his appointment to serve as Special Adviser to the President by now Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency of 1999 to 2007.
Okorocha is a leading voice in the Southeastern and much of Southern region of Nigeria where he hails from. He qualifies eminently for the requirement of a unifier.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello, current governor of Kogi state, a state that comprises of many tribes not limited to just the Igalas, the Okuns and the Okuns; being the major tribes in the state. As governor of Kogi state, the least query against him is marginalisation of any tribe in the state in terms of appointments. He can be wrong as a leader in a number of ways but when it comes to being able to govern Kogi as one united entity, he has done well thus far. As such, he is also qualified to be regarded as a unifier.
The above are just a few of the fact that the Nigerian state however complex can work as one united entity, all it needs in 2023 as a priority is a unifier as President, so help the Nigerian state and its voters, God. Amen.