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Column No.6: How not to vote come 2023

I’m one of the harshest critics of politicians who have begun politicking as early as last month, all towards 2023. But honestly, it seems like…

I’m one of the harshest critics of politicians who have begun politicking as early as last month, all towards 2023. But honestly, it seems like they are taking the saying ‘the early bird gets the fattest worm’ too seriously. And that’s why I have decided to join in the merriment. But before you assume I’m nursing or even launching a political career, I should point out that I’m merely exercising my right to an opinion. Specifically, my opinion on how Nigerians should not vote, come next year. Many, actually, don’t need my pointers, as they have learnt the hard way, from the N1,000 naira, the 2 packs of Indomie, the mudu of sugar, and so on. People are generally tired, and just want to vote in for once, the best candidates for the job. 

So how do you avoid picking the same clowns to perform the same circus for another long 4-year cycle? First of all, be smart in how you choose. At the risk of stating the obvious, I’ll just say the best way to do so is to take a good look at how the sitting presidency approaches its responsibilities, as that would definitely give a good preview of how an ‘anointed’ candidate would perform. Not in exact terms, mind you, but in very similar way. Also, make a list of all the conventional things which living in the here and now demands we ask of our leaders-to-be, and then tear it up. The year 2023 is the year we should strive to do everything political in completely different ways.

I repeat: These are the ways I will approach choosing who to vote for. I am not in any way stating them expressly as laws which any Nigerian who happens upon should live by. That said, the first thing to not look out for is the candidate’s age. On a landscape where the ‘youths’ have weaponised their youth, and the older ones have positioned ‘experience’ as a magic wand, you would do well to toss a candidate’s age away when choosing. Young or old, we have had more than our share of truly awful leaders. So yes, do not pick a candidate solely on their age. Politics is a place where the maxim ‘age is nothing but a number’ certainly applies.

Another thing to not do is listen to ‘endorsements’, or to waste their respect on any ‘anointment’. An example is when a beloved ex-governor from the North-East animatedly began to champion the cause of one of the first contenders to openly throw his hat into the 2023 ring, to almost comical levels. This is a candidate whose popularity is not very strong, and who might not be able to go very far, but someone who is a sitting senator, and who is known for political acumen, is trying to shove him down the collective throats of northern Nigeria. It would’ve been funny, if it wasn’t so insulting. Therefore, my advice is to ignore such, and make your own informed decisions.

Most of you – even if you wouldn’t admit it – vote based on ethnic and religious sentiments. The best way around that problem, is to not vote that way this time around. Like I mentioned earlier, your conscience and instinct, guided by hard facts should guide your decision. After all, if there is anything certain in Nigeria, it is the fact that crime, violence, evil, and even that ever-present spectre called corruption, are found in commercial quantity in all ethnic tribes, and adherents of any religion you can imagine. Which is exactly why no one should vote based on ethno-religious sentiments. After all, the suffering which bad choices bring upon are universal, therefore shouldn’t the choice of leadership be equally diverse?

An important point in the advice I’m offering is that of money. Though I mentioned it earlier, this time it’s not about the stipends handed out to regular folk for their votes, no. I’m talking about the apparent wealth or poverty of a candidate and how both can be positioned theatrically to hoodwink the electorate. We’ve had stinking-rich people who became governors and ended up stinking-terrible at leadership, and likewise we’ve had some who rode in on account of their Spartan lives and ended up becoming poster-boys of luxury while the country sinks deeper into that nasty quicksand called poverty. Again, go with cold, hard logic and you most likely won’t go wrong. 

If you’re thinking that my advice strikes as a tad extreme, think of the fact that even Physics as a science seems to be redundant when applied to Nigerian politicians. That is why you, too, like me have to be extreme when applying common sense to the choices you will make next year. Rich or poor, young or old, savvy or newbie – just make sure you pick good people who have demonstrated in other spheres of life and endeavor a strength of will, a love for the people, and a drive to serve. Because after all is said and done, in the end you’re the one who will have to live with your choices and their consequences, for better or worse. The good news is that if you vote well, it will certainly be for the better. 

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