(By Odusote Oluwakayode)

If there is to be a change as the chant of the APC calls it, there must be a party that practices the change it hopes to make. A well-disciplined Party armed with the theory of creating a positive change in all areas of our national life, preaching the methods of how it intends making the change, assessing the methods by allowing constructive criticism and linking with the electorates that will cast votes during the election.

For the keen followers of political development in Nigeria, the atmosphere is gradually getting to a near pitch of 2015 general elections. Every week, there are twists to political calculations with various scheming by the politicians. Aside from the huge burden of insurgency, the nation had witnessed the “Rice Revolution” that took power from the APC controlled government in Ekiti state to the opposition led party of the PDP. That victory gave the President and the ruling PDP a renewed hope in its bid to “taking over” the south west states from the APC. Don’t mind my choice of word – “Taking over”, that’s what we have been brain washed to adopt since the “do or die” politics of the 2003 general elections. The arrogance in its usage, mostly by our politicians is just a simple way of letting the world know that votes do not count in Nigeria’s elections – at least not for now.

Apart from the Ekiti election, political turbulence in the Edo state house of assembly where as usual, “1” is always greater than “2” in Nigeria’s polimatics reared its ugly head in the impeachment and counter impeachment moves by the members of the state house of assembly loyal to the APC and the PDP. In the other news, the Adamawa state governor, Muritala Nyako is – as declared, buying time to save himself from impeachment moves by the state house of assembly. He is said to have declared two days public holiday (7 & 8 of July) just to play the game as usual. Now, those theatrics can only be staged in our country’s democracy – not in developed countries that a government most time compares the nation to when it comes to a period of adversity.

Some weeks back, the largest opposition party in Nigeria, The All Progressives Congress (APC) successfully, against all negative predictions concluded her first National convention, where a preferred John Oyegun emerged as national chairman against Tom Ikimi who felt betrayed by some of the national leaders of the party. The last has not been heard of his bitterness. As rumored, he is likely to be lured back into the PDP, a party he dumped to join the ACN that metamorphosized with other forces to become the APC. Delving into the ideology behind his bitterness is a topic for another discussion. The convention to choose the party’s presidential flag bearer is proposed for November 2014 and its success or failure will have great impact on the 2015 general election.

Beyond doubts the APC with the successful convention is expected to be solidified with its organized structure put in place to ensure the programmes of the party are well carried out in realizing the anticipated complete “takeover” of the villa from the current occupier, the People’s Democratic Party.

If there is to be a change as the chant of the APC calls it, there must be a party that practices the change it hopes to make. A well-disciplined Party armed with the theory of creating a positive change in all areas of our national life, preaching the methods of how it intends making the change, assessing the methods by allowing constructive criticism and linking with the electorates that will cast votes during the election.

As the most crucial 2015 general elections gets closer, the atmosphere is expected to be more charged. This charged atmosphere will require intelligent and responsible participation of all stakeholders in the series of events that the political platforms will be engaged in; in campaigning that precedes such elections as a critical aspect of the electoral process.

The campaign provides a platform and opportunity to the candidates and their political parties to articulate party agenda on issues of national concern by reflecting on the contestation of ideas on how the instruments of government should be organized to work effectively in creating a society where Nigerians will be proud of. Against the engagement of abuse, blackmail and image slandering often resorted to by our politicians, it is important that idea based contestations are adopted as healthy for our political process so that the electorates are genuinely assisted to make rational political choices.

The political campaign process in Nigeria seems to deviate from this ideological approach of idea based contestation. It is unfortunate that most campaign processes adopted by our political parties has become instruments used to mock, harass, humiliate, demonize, defame, intimidate and repress each other. Unfortunately, the obvious lack of issue-based campaigns among our politicians has not helped in our democratic development.

Now that the APC’s leadership is formally composed, the electorates are looking forward to a robust opposition party that will engage in ideological contestation of issues that will affect the lives of the governed positively. If Nigeria must be better, it must start from the choice of the electorates and the choice of the electorates will not be seen in media war of words but in the genuine ideas and programmes that will consolidate and strengthen our democracy beyond individualism, ethnicity and regionalism.

Fifteen years into what we call democracy, we are mostly seeing campaigns that totally lack vision regarding how to solve the myriad of problems confronting the nation. Most times these trends persist due to lack of clear-cut programmes for the people, the only message that they are selling is abuse and propaganda. Unfortunately, these politicians don’t even care to feel the pulse of the people to realize that abusive campaigns are not what the Nigerian people expect. Nigerians expect to hear what plans are in the offing towards finding lasting solutions to the challenges we are faced with.

In our political environment, the few concerned electorates are mostly ignorant of the programmes and policies of political parties and their candidates. People are most time favorably disposed to electing an individual based on various sentiments that have no expected connection to the need for growth and development. The led are sometimes the root cause of some challenges in government when they in themselves are not in tune with the manifestos of the various political parties that parade candidates for elective offices.

Ideologically, candidates of political parties are supposed to align their programmes to that of the party’s manifesto. In our political landscape we are used to different individual slogans that have no bearing with that of the party. “Agendas” are numerous with different “numbers” attached. Infact, most politicians give assure of hopes in their agenda that they often do not think of ways of achieving what is being promised. Aligning programmes with a party’s well thought out manifesto is key to achieving results. A sound manifesto should articulate achievable programmes that will enhance the development of the country and the people’s wellbeing. The electorates therefore, should be able to decide to vote for the party that have a programme with human face and not for a party that is equipped with the capacities to import the largest quantities of rice for electorates or offer the biggest package of brown envelopes.

The various candidates should therefore be evaluated on their capacity to implement both their party’s manifesto and their personal realistic vision. The expected evaluation should not have the sentiment of ethnicity, religion and gender. The trend of using the media to propagate lies and engage in deceptive acts should not be allowed to overshadow the need for careful evaluation of those seeking re-election.

Just as practiced in developed countries, those seeking to be re-elected ought to be evaluated against the record of what they have or have not achieved while those who have not yet held office and seeking to hold one should be carefully evaluated in terms of their competence, their reputation for honesty and selfless dedication to the common good.

In casting our votes, we should therefore not be swayed by personal profit but solely by the consideration of which of the conflicting issues or candidates is better for the nation. We should scrutinize the people who wish to represent us and select our candidate strictly on records of the good they portray and the good we think they can do. The interest of the political parties should be kept subordinate to the public good.

Politics should not be seen or regarded as a dirty game. Citizens have an obligation to be actively involved in the nation’s political development so as not to be part of the criticizing audience that will not even take a step towards ensuring the needed positive change is achieved. Politics is for the good of the people and the country, not a business entity for the economic survival of any individual or party.

2015 is close and subtle campaign had started. Jingles by politicians, proclaiming dividends of services rendered is already flooding the air waves. Some jingles have even compared our misfortunes to that of some developed nations like the United States of America and Great Britain with plea of patience and support from the citizens.

It is being declared that “Transformation” takes time – that’s just the beginning, in the nearest months as political intrigues evolve, more of these jingles of deception will come up. The only guaranteed apparatus to differentiate deception from truth is a vigilant and virile electorate whose ability to see goes beyond a need for rice to rise.

To be continued…

(Source: Abusidiqu)

“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”