Nigeria needs to start looking beyond the elections. Elections are only a part of democracy. Beyond these elections, there are a lot of issues that will need to be resolved.
First and foremost is the security issue. Make no mistake about this, a storm is coming.
You see, even if we manage to beat Boko Haram militarily, there is the small matter of winning the peace after the guns have fallen silent. But Boko Haram, is not our only security problem. Truth is, whether the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan wins or not, the Niger Delta is still heavily militarised. That is a problem.
Should Jonathan win, there will still be the issue of security contracts that he has given to people who qualify as not much more than brigands. These are volatile men who, at the slightest perceived insult or default, will make an effort to throttle the commodity that provides our government most of its revenue. Whether they will succeed in this, remains to be seen, but try they will, because the government will at some point in the coming year, run out of funds to pay them.
The Niger Delta is not the only security problem on the horizon. There is the little issue of the Middle Belt and its almost constant crises. The juncture between Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue state has been in constant crises between various groups for the last decade, unresolved. These, various crises between the Tiv, Idoma, Alago, Eggon, Fulani, Junkun, in various, shifting alliances, is not intractable, but is ongoing. The crisis in the Middle Belt if not curtailed, will eventually spill over into the South-East of the country. Some resolution has to be found because the Middle Belt of Nigeria, is potentially the bread basket of this country. We cannot keep on ignoring what is happening there.
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So that is three potential security issues that the winner of Saturday’s elections will have to face: a continued and possibly reinvigorated Boko Haram if we lose interest post the elections, a renewed Niger Delta militancy if and when the government runs out of money to continue servicing their pipeline contracts, and a potential drought leading to an escalation of the crises in the Middle Belt. Naturally, if the conditions align, and all three break out at the same time, and the security forces are overwhelmed, it will spread. We cannot afford to live on the vague hope that it is impossible for the conditions to happen.
But security isn’t the only issue that whoever wins the ballot has to face. There is the testy issue of the economy. This one is important.
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In the coming months, and when the naira loses more of its value, the cost of this particular election season on the treasury will become clearer as the FG will finally admit to being broke. Unfortunately, such an admission will only bring out the worst as various unions will embark on industrial action, grinding us to a halt. Already, ASUU, SSANU, NUEEE, and others have accused FG of failing to honour agreements signed in the recent past and are threatening action. SSANIP already on strike.
Since government is meant to be a continuum, these grievances will carry on regardless of who wins. There will be industrial unrest. As it becomes painfully clear that Nigeria’s government is too broke to cope, and austerity bites harder, more unrest will break out. What it will translate to, we can’t say. But whatever it is, will not be pretty. So guys, buckle down and prepare for a very bumpy ride.