A Round table which reviewed the conduct of the last General Elections in Nigeria during the Students’ Week of the National Association of Political Science Students, (NAPSS) at Veritas University turned into a session of crack exchanges. The session turned out hyper-critical with the speakers and the audience crossing each other at some point. One of the students sharply disagreed with the line of argument of one of the presenters whom the student claimed to have tracked all his previous television appearances. The presenter, of course, responded. As is usual in such interrogation and counter-interrogation, it is not about who was wrong or right but about clarifications. It was very interesting though watching students articulating their points, some to the last details. Perhaps, what is needed is more and more debates.
As if in anticipation of such an interesting turn, Dr. Fr. Innocent Jooji who stood for the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Hyacinth Ichoku had described Veritas University as a welcoming, conducive and tolerant atmosphere that Rosa Luxembourg Foundation which supported the Roundtable would love to partner with. Holding the Round table, he said, was evidence of that, adding how the conduct of the last elections had left questions lingering.
He considered it appropriate that such a development is given intellectual touch in an atmosphere such as Veritas University because the alleged manipulations and mismanagement could lead to disaster if not so dissected and understood.
A potentially productive partnership could thus be said to be brewing between Veritas University, Abuja and the Foundation. The seal is yet to be put on the partnership but the seeds have been planted, with both parties looking forward to watering them to grow.
Expressing happiness with being involved with the occasion at Veritas, Mrs Angela Odah of Rosa Luxembourg Foundation said this was particularly on account of certain peculiarities she attributed to Nigerian youths. According to her, Nigerian youths have energy and talent that is fascinating and needs to be built up. She listed the Foundation’s key areas of engagement at the moment to be poverty, empowerment especially of women and youths and then natural resources and conflict. The Foundation, explained Mrs Odah, is an international activist organisation named after the radical leftist, Rosa Luxembourg who was assassinated for ideological reasons in 1919.
Also speaking, Ms Mma Odi who share membership of the defunct Women in Nigeria, (WIN) with Mrs Odah said elections in Nigeria were becoming a case of the more one looked, the less one sees. She said after about 100 persons were killed in the 2011 post-election violence, it was thought that was the worst Nigeria could take. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come because three times that figure perished in 2019. She drew attention to the paradox in the firm assurances by the election management body but only for logistics to become such a problem in the 2019 elections, including a postponement by a week.
The Roundtable became important because, according to her, there is the need to reflect on what went wrong and where. Alliance for Credible Elections, (ACE) which she heads is still in business because the goals of credible and peaceful elections are still elusive in Nigeria. She invited the students to feel free to participate as stakeholders in Election Studies, Political Science and the business of politics/power.