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As we march towards the presidential elections

By Sly Edaghese 
11 July 2022   |   2:57 am
Apart from Peter Obi, the Labor Party flag bearer, who has inundated every space on the social media platform with what he had done while in office as a governor, other presidential aspirants

National Commissioner, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu

Apart from Peter Obi, the Labor Party flag bearer, who has inundated every space on the social media platform with what he had done while in office as a governor, other presidential aspirants have not been so voluble with what they did in the past nor what they intend to bring to the table as president!

Let’s take it that this is so because campaigns are yet to commence in earnest. What’s presently occupying the minds of most aspirants is getting the right candidates to run with them on the ticket.

Now, even though they have all obeyed the law by submitting the names of their running mates to INEC, the aspirants has told the world that what they submitted to the Commission was nothing but a placeholder! What a strange word! They said they did that to beat the official deadline set by INEC while in actual fact, according to them, they were still in search of the right fit for the bill! The INEC has come out to debunk the idea of a placeholder and said it’s a near impossibility to replace a running mate once their names are submitted.

Yes, according to INEC, there’s a provision in the electoral law for replacing a running mate but the concept of a placeholder is alien to that law! That caution notwithstanding, the aspirants are busy meeting with party officials and interviewing several would-be candidates for the position of their so-called right running mates.

The question is, why all this noise about getting the right running mate? We never had it so in the past! Not much attention had ever been given to whoever became a running mate or a vice-presidential candidate in our elections!  All attention had always been focused on the presidential aspirants! The presidential aspirants towered above their running mates! Vice Presidents were seen or treated by their principals as a “spare tire.”

The relationship between the president and their vice was very inconsequential! Even at present, the relationship between President Buhari and Prof Osinbajo is trivial. Osinbajo can only do what the president tells him to do, otherwise he stays in his office and awaits the president’s call! To Buhari, the Vice President is only there because the law requires it! Otherwise Buhari could as well dispense with him and the heavens will not fall! But with what we’re seeing now with this coming elections, no one can belittle the importance of the office of a running mate and remain relevant. Not only that, you look for a vice-presidential candidate who could help the ticket to win and also help you as president to govern and be ready to step into the office should something happen to you. Yes, selecting who becomes a vice should now be based on competence and not just to fulfill all righteousness! 

Now as we await the various candidates to perfect who they choose as their running mates, we can start to assemble the areas we want them to address during the campaign proper! It is not going to be business as usual! If we want a better Nigeria, the coming campaign should be issues-based! Each candidate must tell us their take on the various issues eating up the country! They should be made to talk about the followings:

Insecurity: How are they going to handle insecurity and rescue the nation that’s almost being overrun by bandits and terrorists! 

Cattle Grazing: This has brought issues between farmers and herders whereby herders allow their livestock to roam the farms of the natives! The animals end up eating the crops and destroying the entire farms! Any protests by the natives have resulted in an entire village going up in smoke and the villagers shot and butchered by the herders in the process! Each candidate should address this issue and tell us if they are going to continue to permit an open grazing of cattle in this modern Nigeria!

State Police: They should tell us if they’re creating a state police force or we are continuing with the federal police force, the way we have always had it?

Resource control: Let’s know from them if they’re going to allow each state to own their resources and contribute a fraction of the revenue to the federal pulse or they’re continuing with the overbearing federal might?

Agriculture: How much emphasis are they going to place on agriculture, now that the future of oil seems blink, we want to know!

Education: How do they intend to boost our educational sector and make it comparable to what exists abroad?

Hospitals: It has been a worrisome situation seeing our government officials along with the president abandoning our local hospitals and hopping into the next available jet to seek medical attention abroad! Are we expecting the in-coming president to make an official statement restricting government officials to tend to their medical needs in Nigeria? 

Separatist agitations: They should tell us how they intend to handle the various separatist movements in the country! These agitators are asking for plebiscites to go their separate ways!

Electricity: No country can industrialize without constant power supply to drive their industrial concerns! What, truly, is the issue with us having electricity 24/7? Almost all our neighboring countries are enjoying constant power supply! Why can’t we?

Resuscitation of our old Industries: Let them tell us how they intend to resuscitate our old abandoned industries that once made Nigeria tick: Cocoa, Cotton, Textile Mills, Breweries, Ajaokuta Steel Company, Plywood, Hide & Skin, etc, etc.

Corruption: Let them tell us in concrete terms how they are going to reign in corruption! Corruption has become a hydra-headed monster that no leader has seemed able to tame! 

These are some of the issues we must present to those asking for our votes to answer for us! You can add to the list! This is no time to be clapping after any candidate because of primordial factors such as religion, money, ethnicity or tales of their glorious past! We have gone through all that before; they didn’t do us any good. We are in a new dispensation! We need to know, before we cast our votes for any candidate, how the candidate wants to solve the problems bedeviling the nation! We should look away from the party sponsoring the candidate. All the political parties in Nigeria are the two sides of the same coin! None of them is governed by any stated ideology, hence you see politicians hopping from party to party like a butterfly searching for succulent nectar. My call goes to all Nigerian voters to ensure that in this coming election they vote for the most competent candidate instead of attaching much importance to the party! All the parties have failed us! Let’s be wiser this time around so we don’t miss it again!