(By Hemenseter Butu)
“When we vote, be it in a classroom of 50, a local government or a nation of 160 million, we must seek to rise above our need to conform to our peers and maintain some level of individuality while, at the same time, thinking of the good of our society. While voting for someone because our best friend says he is a good candidate might not be a mortal sin, it isn’t exactly a personal decision which voting ought to be. It doesn’t ensure we vote the person who has the requisite ability to illuminate our paths as leader should“.
Elections are less than three months away. The APC isn’t looking like the knight in shining armour we all thought it was. In fact, in recent months, its armour of integrity and progress has been brought down with their joyous acceptance of former PDP stalwarts who haven’t shown any change in ideologies to the electorate. It is that simple, and it clearly shows the extent politicians will go to secure victory.
Things have never been more complex for the Nigerian voter. If you hate the PDP and what they stand for, you might want to vote the next viable option, seemingly APC, then you remember, they have Babatunde Fashola as well as Atiku Abubakar, they have Rochas Okorocha as well as Attahiru Bafarawa. The list goes on and on. In some quarters, it has been pointed out the APC are going after Governors and aggrieved power brokers in the PDP because they know in 2015 it is going to be ‘free and fair rigging’.
So, despite all our moves and movements from Generational Voices to 20 Million Youths to #30PercentorNothing, politicians are still looking us in the face and saying, ‘We simply can’t allow your votes count. We shall go on with the usual (s)elections process. Only this time we’re going to form a party to serve PDP a little bit of its medicine’. As pragmatic as that sounds, it will breed more bottlenecks than solutions. We cannot allow politicians run the system like this. Our elections cannot be hijacked simply by the party with the highest number of governors, or senators or election rigging machinery in whatever form.
That been said, majority of voters vote based on peer direction. Let me explain what I mean by that. While I was in the University of Jos, student union elections came and went and I noticed, most votes (except those obtained by rigging) came from friends who decided to vote a candidate because their contemporary, friend, peer, or course mate liked the candidate. They assumed if I like A, and A thinks candidate B is a good person. Then candidate B will get my votes ahead of candidate C or D.
When we vote, be it in a classroom of 50, a local government or a nation of 160 million, we must seek to rise above our need to conform to our peers and maintain some level of individuality while, at the same time, thinking of the good of our society. While voting for someone because our best friend says he is a good candidate might not be a mortal sin, it isn’t exactly a personal decision which voting ought to be. It doesn’t ensure we vote the person who has the requisite ability to illuminate our paths as leader should.
Let’s look at the 2015 elections from a new perspective. Wear the shoes of a journalist or a concerned constituent and question your prospective state assembly rep, or local government chairman or state governor or president.
What are the issues that concern you most? If you live in a locality without water, what has the local authority done to salvage the situation? Why did you switch to APC or vice versa? Does that mean you don’t see any contradiction between both parties? Or your ideologies have changed? If yes, what prompted this change? How do you think your new party’s manifesto will benefit the people? What is your solution to insecurity especially Boko Haram? What foreign policies will you propose? How will you redirect our economy away from over dependence on oil revenue? What legislation will you pursue after winning? Continuity is often a challenge, what projects do you think would continue when you get into office and why? Etc.
Not to lie, it is heart wrenching just imagining the answers a good number of our politicians will offer to these questions as we have come to expect. It will probably sound like this ” We are on top of the situation…eeerrrmmm… I will bring Boko Haram and their supporters to book, I will set up a committee to address the situation” etc Absolutely not! That’s not what I am talking about. We have to shift from accepting ambiguity to only agreeing to clear cut solutions, complete with execution time frames and a priority plan. If a politician’s answer doesn’t offer a deep thought, well researched, and strategic solution tailored to fit particular scenarios, I’m afraid it would be tantamount to going around backwards and in circles or giving the shark a new name and expecting us to believe it is now a vegetarian.
We cannot shy away from certain issues. For example, it is December 2014, five years and thirty days away from vision 2020:20 and Nigeria hasn’t fixed its electric power sector. This issue must be thrashed out, with candidates sharing their laid out short term and long term plans. With blueprints to back them up. Need I state what a Herculean task it is to assume we can be industrialised without stable electricity?
Education is still backward in Africa’s most populous nation. Candidates must show clearly how they plan to re-position this sector. They must show key areas they feel must be hammered into line, areas we haven’t explored well enough, with pragmatic case studies and expected results like number of jobs to be created, how much our economy will save in the long run etc.
Reducing the recurrent expenditure aspect of our budget has to be one of the most prominent issues come the next election. Numerous economists have stressed how unsustainable our budget system is. Others have said it is a time bomb and, like bombs, disarming can be tricky. We expect campaigns to offer us step by step plans and achievable solutions to counter this problem.
The issue of security cannot be over emphasised. From Boko Haram in the north to militants in the Niger Delta to communal clashes in the middle belt. Politicians cannot continue to offer the usual solutions we’ve been hearing over and over again. It won’t work, it shouldn’t work in 2015. Also, they must look at other issues such as provision of markets for our agricultural goods, weaning Nigeria off dependence on oil revenue, emphasis on our healthcare sector, pursuing a better foreign policy that positions Nigeria as a much more worthy regional power, strengthening local manufacturing, improving aviation sector. The list seems endless.
President Obama once said “Change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes to Washington” and I dare paraphrase it as “Change doesn’t come from any political party, elder statesman or perceived hero, it comes to the said party, elder statesman or hero”. Change is us, the whole 160 million lot of us. Let us remember that as we move closer to 2015.
When we vote, be it in a classroom of 50, a local government or a nation of 160 million, we should be seeking that candidate that is nearest in line with our thoughts, ideas, thinking. We should be looking to vote someone who thinks like us. Consequently, what we truly need to do is to vote ourselves into office. My earnest prayers is may we find that candidate (or those candidates) with whom majority of us can associate with come 2015. Have a blessed December.
Follower the writer in twitter @HemButs
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