2022 Primary Election, The Youth And The Future of Nigeria – Evaluation Notes for a better country (1)

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The 2022 Primary Elections in Nigeria has come and gone with its ripple effect that holds serious implications for the future of the country. The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate the 2022 Primary Elections in Nigeria in order to point out its strength and weakness, success and failure for necessary action in future.. It is also to show how the violation of shared values, disregard for lessons of history and the abandonment of cherished practice such as power shift generate crisis and difficulties could threaten our collective existence or the the future of the country especially after the 2023 General Elections.

Apart from the fact that it is wise and helpful to do postmortem examination of a project, either in stages or as a whole , some terrible events such as the ever-deepening State of insecurity, disunity and acute sense of hopelessness, renewed vigor of bandits and other criminals since the end of the 2022 primaries recommend an evaluative revisit with the future of the country in mind. Since the end of the primaries, issues that ought to be seen as settled such as fear of religious domination in a secular state, have assumed new dangerous dimension. In a more forceful way, the primaries resurrected dying anxieties and worries about the unity of the country, fears of ethnic domination and the nagging problem of inequitable Justice in Nigeria and their adverse implication for the future.

Today the country is far more divided than it was before the end of the primaries.

Our idea of one Nigeria and how best to achieve it were dangerously assailed by the political elite for selfish reasons.Religious, ethnic, and regional tensions and distrust had heightened and deepened. We are behaving as though the country has no history, or institutional memory. Yesterday’s harmless practice has become today’s dreaded taboo and subject of petty conspiracy and unjustified source of fear and hatred. All these are mere symptoms of disease caused by injustice, mismanagement’ bad governanc, poor leadership and the utter disregard for the rule of the game or law. They have roots in our values, culture and history which the political elites disregarded violated during the primaries.

By values we mean the “principles or standards of behavior,ones judgement of what is important in life…the importance, worth or sefulness of something…” the quality of something that makes it to be preferred to others. Values are important because they are the invisible inner feelings that inform the decisions at both personal and public levels. Culture has been defined as the way of life of a given people. Generally decisions and policy making are value and culture driven.Values define what people do and the support they
give to programs. The issue of value and culture is touchy and where not properly treated with care, it could lead to crisis of serious proportion.

Evaluation can be understood here as a management tool that helps in pointing out the areas of weakness and strength, the perfection and imperfections of the operations of an organization or the performance individual at work. It is a mirror of sort through which we view the performance of an individual, group, institution etc for due appreciation and related corrective intervention.

Evaluations are carried out for number of reasons especially to have clear picture of performance, weigh strength and weakness and identify possible areas for improvement. In a word, evaluation is important because it shows the evaluator the right way to go and
the areas, to amend for better result.

Generally evaluations are done against some backgrounds notably set objectives, history of cost of operation, benefits etc. Our evaluation of the 2022 presidential Primary Elections is based on a number of factors including the history of Nigeria especially since 1999, organization’s set goal, personal ambitions of politicians, national interest and collective aspiration, unity, progress and development of the country democratic experimentation and the emergence of some shared values such as power shift, Zoning of power, etc. we will look at some environmental influence such as and the perversive role of money overtime and the shifting role of the Nigerian political elite especially since 1999. The goal is not to call for cancellation of the exercise or condemnation but to point to obstacles from the the primaries that could retard the progress of the country and create problems of serious proportion for the country after the 2023 General Election Our overall goal is to draw the attention of the next President of the country to areas of greatest concern for necessary improvement.

The 2022 primary elections were held against historical and cultural background of collective strong desire for national unity, rapid even development, progress, equitable social justice and high sense of morality in public life. It is needless to say that these
desires have been with us since independence. However, they have remained unfulfilled largely because of the luke-warm attitude of the political elite to them. Yet the responsibility of leading the task of nation building belongs the national elite- especially the political class.

The trouble is that the Nigerian political elite do not seem to care about the future of the country. They are insensitive to the unity and development of the nation, as well as the yearning and aspirations of some Nigerian groups for inclusion and maximum participation in the development process.As the exercise shows, the political elite are incapable of solving existential problems that threaten the unity of the country or to learn useful lessons of history. They are only interested in their own pocket. This explains why party winnability displaced power shift for national unity and survival during2022 PDP, APC primaries. In the face of personal and friends’ interests, the political elite are prepared to sacrifice national interest. Consequently there had been poverty, underdevelopment, injustice and cries of marginalization and low citizenry participation across the country. Some measures that had been adopted to overcome these and other national problems include power shift, power rotation, and zoning.

Depending on one’s world view and vision of the country, the outcome of 2022 presidential primary elections was sweet, sour and even frightening.The Primaries produced its winners and losers thereby leaving in its trail a deep sea of mixed feeling of sadness and happiness and contrasting strong emotions. For instance, to the winners and their supporters, the 2022 Primary presidential Election was the sweetest thing ever especially because
it moves them nearer to the realization of their dreams. To those who lost, it was sad moment of deep sorrow, crying time and the dimming of hope. To the youth it was a shocking but revealing introduction to the cunning world of the adults with its oozing
filthiness. And for the country, it was a reversal of fortunes or the cancellation of the gains she had made in terms of national unity, and the willful violation of shared values-at least since1999. And to those concerned with the unity and development of the country, respect for shared values and and convention and morality, the exercise was a huge disappointment or sham, a violation of norms and shared values, reversal of a positive trend that was slowly and gently sailing the country to the right path of national unity
unity and development. It was a big blow, a shaker of faith in the unity and survival of fatherland and a serious set back to the democratic gains of the country since 1999.

The picture of the 2022 Primaries from the the angle of national unity and survival is more of hopelessness and faithlessness in the future of the country than otherwise. The exercise returned the country to its darker days acute north-south tensions, unhealthy rivalry mutual ethnic distrust, suspicion, religious intolerance.

Irritatingly, we saw the political elite working hard to upturn the gains of the past over 20years on the national unity lane. Brazenly, the leaders of the major political used their powers and influence to predetermine the outcome of the primaries. Painfully we saw the
violation of shared values and the setting aside of conventions that had kept our hope of national unity and opportunity for maximum citizenry participation alive. We saw the deliberate relegation of the national interest to the background below individual interest. In
many ways, the2022 presidential primaries showed the unpatriotic nature of our political elite, how very far away they are from our dream -destination and how very unprepared they are to make the necessary sacrifice in the national interest. The real worry here is
that the gains of a few may turn out to be the huge loss and great harm of the entire nation sooner than later after the 2023 General Elections.

On the whole it was more depressing and frightening than heart warming and reassuring about the future of the country watching the unfolding events of the primaries. The fear is that the strong forces of history, entrenched culture and cherished values and strong belief and public expectations violated or sidelined during the primaries will combine to make life difficult for the country especially after the 2023 elections. This will be so because these
are touchy issues of the inner- mind that are difficult to push aside because of their entrenchment in the culture, values and beliefs of vast majority citizens of the country.

One of the ways to measure the success or otherwise of a program is to look at its set goal. The primary purpose of the the2022 primaries was to produce candidates for the2023 General Elections From the point of goal realization the exercise was a success. It produced presidential candidates for the 2023 General Elections.By June 9,2022 deadline set by INEC the exercise was over and recognized candidates for the 2023 presidential candidates for General Elections emerged.Some of the victorious candidates at the presidential level include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar(PDP), Chief Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (APC), Mr Peter Obi (LP)
Rabiu Kwankwaso(NNPCMr Kola Abiola(PRP), Prince Adebowale Adebayo (SP), Omoyele Sowore (AAC), Prince Malik Adolbrahim (YPP) (dailypost .ng- John Owen Nwachukwu).At least one of these people will be president next year – all things being equal.

Congratulations to the winners and take heart.to the losers”? However, weighed against the backgrounds experience of broken trust and disappointed expectation, it could easily be predicted that tough times await who ever wins 2023 presidential election in forging national unity and in regaining lost grounds as a result of the 2022 primaries. None of them- not even the brightest and most gifted among them will find Nigeria easy to govern -thanks largely to the mournful nature of the 2022 primaries. Issues of injured feeling associated with broken dreams, violated values, belief, morality, discarded conventions, historical injustice etc will combine to frustrate efforts in nation building.

Those who had been seething over the unhealthy manipulation of the system by political elites especially the leaders of the two leading parties could form or alliance for the pursuit of common interest such as freedom from their oppression They could raise negative forces of disunity and agitation against the people they believe subverted the primaries for selfish reasons. The issues involved including inequitable Justice, marginalization are deeper than meet the eyes and they shall combine to frustrate development efforts after the main elections. The Nigerian political elite appear to be more in love with Nicole Machiavelli’s idea that the “ends justify the the means” than with Bentham’s utilitarian moral injunction on Justice that we should seek to promote the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” of citizens in society. The failure to learn the useful lessons of history and to respect conventional practice since 1999 will haunt the country and threaten its stability for long after the General Elections next year. As they say “garbage in, garbage out”. Some means
could be injurious to the ends. Nations/public interest should supersede private interests.

Generally, the exercise reopened some old wounds that were healing, reversed some gains on the unity lane since 1999, shattered our hope for equitable Justice, national unity and raised some nasty and frightening existential questions about the country and its future direction.And to those concerned with the unity and development of the country, respect for shared values and and convention and morality, the exercise was a sham of sort, a
violation of norms, and shared values, reversal of a positive trend that was slowly and gently sailing the country to the right path of national unity and development. It was
a big blow and serious set back to the democratic gains of the country since 1999. It
therefore serves as an alert to the political elite to change their wrong ways in the collective.

Some of the other issues that were dying down but resurrected to the front burner during the primaries include age of candidates criticism of some people as being too old to run, inter-ethnic mutual distrust and suspicion, inter regional tensions which were simmering or dying down though slowly before the primaries and of course the fear and cries of exclusion and marginalization which had not abated. All these developments which reflect years of bad government heightened after the primaries. It is feared that they will combine to work against the country after the 2023 elections.

The evaluation of the 2022 primaries shows many more reasons for worry about the future of our country especially its unity and survival after the 2023 elections. Perhaps the most serious reason is the disregard for history, shared values, conventional practice and the rule of the game by the political elite. Against historical  experience and public expectation, some shared values in nation building since 1991 such as power shift, power rotation, and the zoning of power which had gained general acceptance as part of the positive aspect of our democratic practice the political elite tragically and treacherously discarded with during the exercise.

In effect, the 2022 primaries injured the inner feelings of some men and women, deepened injustice, heightened inter ethnic and inter regional tensions that may take a long time to fix. A nation based on injustice, unfair deal and willful violation of shared value, rule of the game and thus severely injured feeling will not endure, will not provide the peace and harmony for national unity and development. In a word, the 2022 presidential primaries hold bleakly prospect with disastrous consequences for the future of the country.

This is so because its conduct and outcome conflicted with some cherished values and conventional practices. It is feared that the whirlwind of negative actions by the elite as a result of the effects or consequences of the jaded and morally bankrupt 2022 primaries
will overwhelm who ever becomes the president of Nigeria after Buhari in 2023. In a word, the adverse effect of value conflict will rock the country dangerously and endlessly to a breaking point until equitable Justice is done to all concerned.

The primaries produced some heroes. They include Peter Obi for re-starting a national consciousness movement the end or effect election but his brave outing helps to show that Nigeria belongs to all of us. He should not resign from the party he helped in sustaining during its cold, wintry years. In the spirits of good sportsmanship, he should let bygone be bygone in the national interest after a reasonable deal for his members. The third hero is the Northern Governors’ Forum for respecting the principle of power shift as time honored practice in Nigeria and for putting national interest far above individual and regional interests.

By John Imonbhio Abhuere @Centre for ChildCare and Youth Development Abuja ([email protected])