By Oluwafemi Popoola and Olumide Awofesobi
Former presidential media aide and seasoned journalist, Laolu Akande, has challenged the elected officials to rise up to their official callings to serve the people that entrusted them with power and not relish in the perks of office.
The veteran journalist expressed his views on Friday, November 17, 2023, while appearing as a guest analyst on Channels TV’s news documentary programme, Sunrise Daily, where he spoke on the Kogi gubernatorial election and other topical issues that bother on improving Nigeria’s electoral processes.
While speaking on the importance of political awareness and sensitization of the public to drive popular participation in politics, Akande noted that the mindset of Nigerians must be tailored towards demanding good governance from their leaders, insisting power belongs to the people.
He said, “We should start with some kind of political education that creates awareness among the Nigerian people that power actually belongs to them. It is a democracy and it is a reason why voices have to be loud on this issue. It is a democracy and not a military rule. It is a government for the people, by the people and for the people.
Continuing, “Everybody ought to be on the board to ensure that the message goes in as deep as possible and that is why we have to keep on reforming the electoral process every and any time that we find a loophole.
“It has to do more with the mindset of the average Nigerian. Whether it be a politician or an ordinary citizen understand that at the end of the day, power belongs to the people.
“If we all think that those that get into government can do whatever they choose, if we don’t insist when we see an infringement, if we don’t raise our voices and say no we are not going to take that then they will continue to behave that way.
He also condemned the alleged electoral abnormalities that occurred at the just concluded off-cycle Kogi gubernatorial polls, insisting the electoral body needs a long way to go to inspire trust and confidence in the people.
According to Akande, what happened in Kogi gubernatorial polls where there are reports of election results written by some alleged INEC officers, calls for serious concern and advises the electoral body to purge itself from some compromised individuals.
His words, “There are still ongoing developments but I think the case, it was in Kogi where the results were written ahead of even the voting, still raises quite a bit of concern. I don’t want to go pound on INEC again hoping that they are trying to fix the issues.
“But when you have a situation that results have been written out, I think it calls for some very profound reform of the agency itself if indeed you had your staff compromised up to the point that they released the result sheet and results have been filled.
“This kind of thing does not inspire any kind of confidence or trust but let’s hope that the commissioners and INEC leadership would be able to get to the bottom of this kind of storm,” Akande noted.
Continuing, he said, “We must concede that the people that work for INEC are also Nigerians, so it is not so much trying to say that this is something that is just localised to INEC, but it remains the responsibility of the leadership of INEC, the chairman, the national commissioners, the resident electoral commissioners to ensure that the enormous trust that the Nigerian people and government have given INEC is protected and secure so that we can begin to build trust of the people in the government.
“There is much cynicism and it is this kind of behaviour that encourages it. So, for the election, I think we’ve had, the election is gone, those who would go to court would go to court, but INEC needs to continue to work on improving the trust of the people in the process.”
Referring to the controversial nomination and eventual confirmation of the Senate President Godswill Akpabio’s former Chief-of-Staff as resident electoral commissioner by the Senate, Akande lampooned the opposition senators in the chamber, noting the country needs a serious opposition party.
His words, “In such instances is the issue of the INEC commissioners, I think two or three of them is an issue we must keep alive. It is interesting that the PDP issued a statement and said that they are afraid that this current President or this government is leading to totalitarianism.
“I said you know, what did the PDP legislators say in the senate? We have more than thirty PDP senators in the Senate when the confirmation of those commissioners was going on, what did they say? It was only the publicity secretary who issued a statement from the PDP.
“We have PDP senators in that senate, sitting down, watching the whole affairs, watching Akpabio bring his Chief-of-Staff and former SSG to become a resident electoral commissioner and they all sat down there.”
“Now the same party is saying they are afraid that the government is going to become totalitarian. We must begin to take ourselves seriously. If PDP and LP are going to be an opposition, they have to be responsible oppositions, they have to take things seriously. I would have expected PDP and LP senators to raise hell on the nomination of Akpabio’s former SSG, but they did not,” Akande concluded.