No meaningless campaign promises
presidential and National Assembly (NASS) elections scheduled for February, 2019, is significant in the annals of political landmarks in the country.
The governorship and State Assembly campaigns would follow in two weeks time.
Here comes another familiar season of high-wire political brinkmanship, when political desperados would perpetrate all manner of untoward actions for the sole aim of winning the election.
Such people should be told that the interest of the public is paramount. Nigeria should be there before governance could take place.
Coming nearly four years after the last political campaign period that preceded the 2015 general elections, there is need to let the politicians observe some dos and don’ts.
Decorum should be the guiding principle to show some level of maturity in this nearly sixty-year political game.
With some 70 presidential candidates in the ring, the highest ever in Nigeria, there would be smear campaigns, name-calling and intimidation by some candidates to run their opponents down.
Even candidates who know they are going nowhere may like to act as spoilers who would muddy the waters for the serious contenders.
As usual, there is a referendum on the incumbent president, this time around, President Muhammadu Buhari.
After nearly four years in the saddle, it is incumbent on Nigerians to decide, at the polls, whether or not Buhari has done well judging from his Change mantra that swept Nigeria like a whirlwind in 2015.
Has there been Change – positive or negative in the circumstances of Nigerians? Positive Change will earn plus while negative Change will be minus.
In doing this, there is no need putting tension in the polity. The country is already tensed up with the myriad of problems confronting her.
Other than the unavoidable tension of who wins the election, politicians should avoid acts that would raise tension about violence, killings, conflagration or division of Nigeria should somebody’s ambition is not met. We are all Nigerians. Any of the contestants could win.
No contestant should arrogate to him/herself the unwarranted and over-arching posture that s/he must win as that could trigger violence.
On election promises, it is not clear what the mantra of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is this time around since the party diluted its forceful and compelling Change to “Change Begins with Me”, which shifts responsibility to Nigerians.
What is the party out to achieve if given the mandate again in 2019? The promise(s) should be made clear to Nigerians.
As for the former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, who is the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what Nigerians could hold unto, so far, is his promise to restructure the polity.
The APC had the same promise in its manifesto in 2015 but backed out. How does Atiku intend to effect restructuring, which many believe would give Nigeria a new lease of life?
Apart from the two leading parties, what do the rest of the parties stand for? What is their mission? What are their promises and how do they intend to accomplish them.
Nigerians are tired of meaningless empty promises that are dished out during elections that would never be fulfilled.
Given the abject state of affairs in the country, politicians would exploit the situation to re-echo old promises that have been made since independence – roads, bridges, water, healthcare, etc.
For instance, there would be promises of managing the economy in a better and more prosperous way. How? The economy is a complex of many intervening sectors and not just one thing that can easily be managed. The question to ask is what are the components of the economy?
The components are inter-related and affect one another. The GDP consists of myriad of economic activities whose performance are lumped together to get the GDP. How do you deal with each and every one of the components?
For instance, how do you revive agriculture, reform the oil sector, enhance services like tourism, transport, ICT, etc? How do you revamp the mining and energy sectors? A clear-cut or even itemized bullet points of what the party intends to do and how to do it would show understanding of the issues involved. We don’t want vague promises.
The other issue that would feature in the campaigns is unemployment. It is not enough for a contestant to declare his intention to fight unemployment.
The question is how? The major cause of mass unemployment in the country is lack of stable power supply. If you restore power supply today, there would be employment for millions tomorrow.
Talking of providing jobs without first addressing the issue of power supply is blatant lie. As a matter of fact, give Nigeria power and more than 80 per cent of the economic problems would go on their own.
There will be promises on education without clear-cut strategy on how to go about it. As far as education is concerned, how do you start and where do you end? Is it possible to educate the country under the present warped structure?
Why should the salary of workers be the same all over the federation? Why should all the teachers go on strike at the time and paralyse the sector nationwide? Why should one circular emanating from Abuja affect the entre federation schools at all levels?
Countries that have educated their citizenry segmented it from foundation to secondary level. Anybody who is educated up to that level is literate. That is how the Asian Tigers did it. We need mass literacy. University education is luxury for those who want to be experts and professionals.
Any promise on education should focus on the foundation stage up to secondary school. And this level of education should be mandatory and free in all states for it to succeed.
There would be many other promises but the point is that Nigerians want the promises to be dissected as to how they would be achieved. Nigerians don’t want fables but feasible roadmap on issues.
There should be no religious or ethnic campaigning. No name-calling or labeling of anybody. Rather there should be issue-based campaigning.
There should be level playing field for all contestants. The ruling party, APC, should not use the nation’s security institutions to intimidate opponents like the recent unwarranted search of Atiku Abubakar’s plane at the Abuja International Airport.
The election must be free, fair, credible and peaceful. History shows that most crises in Africa have their roots in failed elections. There should be no political witch-hunt of anybody. It is not enough to say that somebody is corrupt as if that would make a point.
Truth is that corruption is pervasive in Nigeria to such an extent that every Nigerian is seen as corrupt. Therefore, there is no need for the pot to be calling the kettle black.
The 2019 election is a sort of referendum on Nigeria after one hundred years of amalgamation (1914-2018) to decide whether or not Nigeria would continue together as one nation. If it fails, the aftermath would be unpredictable.
All the contestants should adopt the Jonathan principle – accept defeat once it is clear that you have lost for the sake of Nigeria.