Organized by the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy Democracy and Development (SCDDD), the LEAD National Online Forum on the State of the Nation was to discuss outcomes of the 2023 general elections in shaping a path for unity, cohesion and development.
While acknowledging areas that institutions and stakeholders in the electoral process failed to live up to expectations, the dialogue recommended and noted that citizens must be wary of political grandstanding and emotionally laden narratives in the interest of peace and unity.
Leading the conversation, Chief Ezenwa Nwagwu, the convener of “Say No Campaign -Nigeria” said that the nation needs a truth vanguard that can confront the propaganda that has characterized the fallouts of the election, noting that stakeholders should not “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Nwagwu also advocated for a leadership audit at subnational levels, saying that the lack of transparency and accountability at states and local government levels have immensely impacted governance, and by extension the outcome of the 2023 elections.
Amidst mixed feelings and opinions on the outcome, the dialogue described the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) as a “game changer” that must be improved upon in future elections. However, it demanded more accountability in the performance of law enforcement agencies and political parties during polls in order to strengthen the process.
The Center reiterates the need for civil society groups, media and other stakeholders to pay more attention to governance at state and local government areas, as their operations are often cloaked in opacity. For instance, it is disturbing that of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria that the Center assessed in the 2022 Transparency and Integrity Index (TII), only nine LGAs have functional websites for displaying their activities and engaging citizens. This clearly shows the level of neglect and disregard for transparency and accountability in the third tier of government which is the closest to the people.
The Center also holds that inclusion is important in our quest to achieve national unity, cohesion and development. Regardless of the outcome of the elections, it is hoped that the incoming government would look beyond the dividing lines and form a government that is inclusive in all ramifications.