Fellow Nigerians, going by the latest INEC’s election timetable, we are still some weeks away from the general polls, but prevailing events, with regards to political activities, paint a picture of an exercise scheduled to hold tomorrow. Campaigns across all levels have reached feverish pitch, with respective party candidates trying hard to dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts’. Everything in the country has been overshadowed by the forthcoming elections. Discussions, deliberations and plans on issues critical to the overall survival of Nigeria as a country have been relegated to the background. All that matters and are of utmost importance at the moment is simply how to coast home to victory in next month’s 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. Hardly a time you tuned in to either a local radio or TV station that one isn’t greeted with deluge of campaign and counter campaign messages sponsored for or against politicians. It is instructive we remind these politicians that what we are preparing for is just an election, not a war!
We really have to be brutally frank to each other. Should we continue in this direction, we would one day wake up and discover that the very country we proudly call our own has ceased to exist. Most Nigerians are so obsessed with politics and politicians that we allow several important issues to go unattended to. Serious pre-election questions are mounting on, but we have resolved never to get credible answers to them. So many unanswered questions stare us in the face, yet we act as if all is just okay with our country. Nigerians have surrendered their beloved country to economic plunderers, political saboteurs, religious merchants, mercantile media as well as social misfits. Men and women of integrity have distanced themselves from issues of governance, thereby allowing opportunists with little or no knowledge of what governance entails to run the show. They have reduced governance to a “Chop make I chop” issue, (Apologies to PDP chair, Adamu Muazu).
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 these men to narrow their arguments to how they intend to raise the bar of leadership, improve security, provide qualitative and highly subsidized education and healthcare, eradicate corruption and put in place schemes that will promote entrepreneurship. This is the way to go. So far, with due respect to members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigerians are eagerly waiting for candidates flying their flags to clearly sell their programmes or manifesto to them. Regrettably, what we’ve so far been witnessing is nothing short of incivility, lawlessness and absence of common sense. They 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. First things first. Politicians must be told the truth they hate to hear. Nigeria must be protected first before any other thing. We need to have a safe, protected, peaceful and progressive Nigeria first before we can play politics. This is why Nigerians cannot afford to keep mum while desperate politicians sow seeds of discord, acrimony and disunity. We desire a country where anyone, no matter his or her background, can aspire to seek for any elective office without considering his ethnic or religious inclinations.
Why are our politicians 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 carryout if given the opportunity to govern? Truth be told, 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, we are now treated to raw insults, invectives, buck passing and character assassination. The question is, how did we get to this sorry state?
Let me quickly dwell on the obvious shortcomings inherent in the campaigns of both President Goodluck Jonathan and that of General Muhammadu Buhari. It’s been a disastrous outing for both of them, especially in the case of Goodluck Jonathan. Both of them have reduced campaigns to a matter of you “insult me and I insult you back” matter. Nothing convincing, statesmanly and gentlemanly in their utterances. I think their handlers are not offering them the right briefs on what they should address or speak on. Ideally, a campaign speech or address should be expository, persuasive, convincing and moving. Not speeches laced with invectives, insults, demeaning words and defamatory lines.
Yunusa writes from Imane, Kogi State