To quite a few concerned observers, as Nigeria prepares to go to the polls in the General Elections, she could as well be hurtling toward the dangerous cliff of political doom. These prophets of doom advance as the basis of their misgivings the presence of desperate politicians who readily sacrifice party ideology and manifesto on the altar of personality cult; who engage in verbal exchanges indistinguishable from diatribe and ribaldry; who enlist the services of twits and sycophants to humour and dance attendance on them; who recruit from the pool of unemployed youths thugs typecast for doomsday scripts; and who glibly shy away from constructive dialogue for fear of exposing their ignorance of the reality of the common man in their midst. The pundits think this is a deadly recipe.

Well, to the here and now. A sampling of popular opinion readily unveils two major gladiators in the 2019 arena: the incumbent and purposeful PMB on the one hand; and the redoubtable Atiku Abubakar on the other. The oracles have already began their divinations with characteristic Delphian ambivalence: the final result will go either way! In layman’s terms, either Buhari will win or Atiku will win! A fifty-fifty situation. The double-edged sword of public justice hangs above either candidate’s fate.

Buhari’s Anti-corruption war is a plus for him, even though this credential fades in the face of total lack of security under his government and his inability to effectively bring a turn-around in the economy of the country, and failure to provide much-needed employment opportunities for layers of unemployed Nigerians.

To many, Atiku holds a hope. As a seasoned and successful businessman, many opine that he will bring that wealth of experience to bear on tackling the country’s economic woes. Others, however, fear that he is only an other side of the same coin, that he will turn out to be a re-enactment, of the old Nigerian story of soja-go-soja-come. “The casket might be removed”, they say, “but the bier will remain” to haunt the Nigerian dream.

All said and done, Nigerians appear to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

The verve and desperate means to which these gladiators have resorted in their campaigns gives one the impression that the Saturday February 16, 2019 polls will not reflect the mood of Valentine’s day that will be celebrated two days prior. The breakdown of diplomacy suggests that the gladiators are set for a fight-to-the-finish.

For our part, we are trying to perfect the balancing act even as we live in daily fear of the unknown. Until the election is won and lost can we let out a sigh of relief, and even then only jerkily. Will the election be free and fair? Will the victor be congratulated and his victory accepted? Or will the dust remain hanging over the battlefield?

We can only hope and pray that whoever emerges victorious will not lose sight of the plight of Nigerians but seek to address the issues highlighted in the presidential debates and at other platforms. These issues of corruption, security, unemployment and the economy demand urgent attention and must not be jettisoned in the fight of leadership.

This election remains an acid test for our democracy. How it is concluded and received by Nigerians will be the test of our democratic maturation.

Nigeria is an ambulant orthopedic patient attempting a dangerous acrobatic display on a precipice.

God save Nigeria! 

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