Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Nigeria @50: Celebrate Oct 1; Back to Business Oct 2

Happy Birthday Nigeria! October 1, 2010, is certainly a day to celebrate for all Nigerians as the nation reaches the mature age of 50. Congratulations and Best Wishes. Celebrate and reveal in the importance of this day, but Oct 2 -- after the celebrations are over -- the business at hand is still the elections and doing this one right is a "must-do" in order to once and for all put the naysayers to rest. Giving INEC more time to put all the election processes in place is a step in the right direction as a lot remains to be done (a transparent voter registry of the nearly 74 million potential voters is a good example of one of the key must-do tasks). It is a positive sign that some in the nation are considering the need to move the election date to April 2011 as the INEC Chairman has requested to allow INEC to have more time to put the right processes in place.
Clean and credible elections do make a difference -- not only for this generation, but for the next -- as they set the stage to address and improve the remaining challenges that the country faces, particularly in the areas of improving the use and transparency of national financial resources for development in sectors ranging from education to agriculture (meaning ending corruption). With leaders elected through a credible, non-rigged, transparent process, who themselves are credible, and have the best interest of the nation at hand, then all else is possible --from curbing corruption to improving infrastructural development. It is always important to recognize milestone events in the life of a nation, and October 1, 2010, is such a day, such an event for Nigeria. However, October 2, should be back to the business, as a lot remains to be done between now and Election Day. As noted in an earlier Africa Post entry, Nigerian Resilience and Resolve (the 2 R's) - the country's two most fundamental national character traits -- must come into play in the run up to the 2011 elections. Your friends are counting on you to use those two traits to ensure that after the October 1, 2010, celebrations, that the focus continues on election processes, and all the other Election Checklist issues raised on The Africa Post @ blogitrrs ( which includes, but are not limited to the importance of the role of civil society at every step and in every way in the election processes as they are an important watchdog over the process and the election itself. The pressure was on before Nigeria's 50th anniversary to get the election right, and October 2, 2010, the pressure will be even more as reflection takes over from celebration. At a September 29, 2010, symposium in Washington, D.C. on Nigeria @ 50, there were some Nigerians who wondered what the nation had to celebrate. Once can go back throughout history and look at several countries, including the U.S., to see where they were as nations just after 50 years of development. But I would argue what counts now is not dwelling on the past, but focusing on the future so that it is bright, and so that the nation can move forward in its 51st year, and its 52nd year and so on. This can only start with a clean and credible election being the order of the day for the 2011 elections.
(Views expressed on blogitrrs are personal and do represent the views of the U.S. Government.)