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It’s called election, not war


GOING by the INEC election timetable, we are just a couple of weeks away from the February 2015 general polls. Campaigns across all levels have reached feverish pitch, with candidates putting finishing touches to their programmes. Everything in the country has been overshadowed by the forthcoming elections.

  Discussions and plans on issues critical to the overall survival of Nigeria as a country have been relegated to the background. All that are of utmost importance at the moment is simply how to coast home to victory in the elections. Politicians aren’t bothered about the fact that Baga, a town in Borno has been taken over by Boko Haram insurgents; politicians are not bothered that all government-owned hospitals and courts have been shut down owing to industrial actions. It is instructive that we remind these politicians that what we are preparing for is just an election, not war.

  We need to constantly remind those seeking elective positions the need for them to anchor their campaigns on facts, figures and verifiable statistics and not on mundane matters. We expect them to narrow their arguments to how they intend to raise the bar of leadership, improve security, provide qualitative and highly subsidised education and health care, eradicate corruption and put in place schemes that will promote entrepreneurship.

  Our politicians seeking elective offices have deliberately refrained from commenting on core issues of development. Instead, they major strongly on irrelevant issues. Obviously, we cannot afford to watch them pollute the entire system with their indecorous utterances and actions. Why are they not harping on the many socio-economic and political malaise confronting Nigeria? Why are the campaigners not stating in clear terms what they intend to carry out if given the opportunity to govern? I am yet to watch or listen to any moving or convincing speech, especially from the duo of General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP since they kick-started their campaigns. In place of excellent speech delivery, what we are treated with are raw insults, invectives, buck passing and character assassination. The question is: How did we get to this sorry state? 

  Let me begin with the outings of the presidential candidate of the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari so far. Many had really expected Gen. Buhari to have armed himself with necessary details of how he intends to run Nigeria’s economy if elected. We had expected him to offer more insights into what he plans to do differently. Instead, he has chosen to be very brief in his remarks at a time Nigerians want him to speak more. The General should watch it. He shouldn’t count his eggs before they are hatched. Tell Nigerians what you want to bring to the table. Refrain from joining issues with members of the opposition. Those managing Buhari should see beyond responding to missiles from the PDP alone.

  Running successful campaign machinery requires a holistic programme of action. Fine, you want to tackle corruption, fight insurgency, enthrone rule of law, revive our ailing economy, fix critical infrastructure and put the nation on the path of progress. But how do you intend to do all of these? Nigerians aren’t dull people. Experiences have made us wiser. The era whereby politicians appear in ‘agbada’ and offer vague promises is far-gone.

  Now to the campaigns of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. Unfortunately, Jonathan began his campaign rally on a very disastrous and disappointing note in Lagos. He blasted his chances. Like his APC counterpart, Jonathan deliberately shot himself in the foot by dwelling more on the personality of Buhari and forgot to harp on the transformation efforts of his administration. He spoke like an angry person —very harsh, illogical and annoyingly repetitive. His outing on that day was totally unpresidential.

  Many had expected President Jonathan to dwell more on what he has done since he assumed office in the last six years. Regrettably, he didn’t. Instead, he decimated the personality of Buhari, forgetting that he was doing immeasurable favour to his major challenger. Ironically, the more he castigates his opponent, the more people accept him as their man. Tell Nigerians why your government has been unable to end insurgency in the Northeast. Tell Nigerians what your frustrations are with regards to tackling corruption. In clear terms, tell us why the economy is in tatters.

  Mr. President, we all know you to be a humble, easy-going and can’t-hurt-a-fly kind of individual. What has suddenly gone wrong? You now call people all sorts of names. You rain insults on those who disagree with your style of politics. To add salt to injury, you don’t even spare the elders. Your estranged political godfather, Olusegun Obasanjo got his fair share when you openly called him a “motor park tout.” Ha! This is not how to go about it. Remember, you are still our President. The nation is still under your control. So refrain from making comments capable of worsening the situation on ground. We love the former you. That calm, easy-going, humble and quiet you. These were the very qualities that endeared you to many, way back in 2011.

  From the foregoing review, without doubt, Buhari and Jonathan are yet to convince Nigerians on why any of them should be voted into power come February 14. As they continue their campaign visits to other states, they should do well to scale down on rhetorics and dwell more on serious issues. They should do well to caution their supporters against making careless utterances.

  Campaigns should be based on ideas, issues and implementable policies. Politicians shouldn’t go into the forthcoming polls with I-must-win-at-all-cost mentality. No one’s political aspirations should be placed beyond national considerations. Elections will come and go; Nigeria will remain a united country. It’s called election, not war.

• Yunusa is a writer and public affairs commentator living in Imane, Kogi State, 08064469161

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