With elections just around the corner, the campaigns of the three main contending candidates representing the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Labour Party (LP) are in full swing.
The nation is facing crisis in which the problems are well defined, therefore it should come as no surprise that the manifestos of the APC, PDP and LP candidates are all very similar in content. All presidential candidates must mention improving security, “engaging” the youth, stimulating the economy, improving healthcare and education, and so on. What is also similar is that none of them has said in any detail exactly how they intend to achieve their laudable objectives bearing in mind the constitutional limitations on their powers.
Nigerians mistakenly believe that presidents somehow have the magical power to effect wholesale changes. This of course isn’t true. The incoming President will not be an emperor or king who can issue decrees to banish suffering forever. He will be forced to work with an atrociously corrupt National Assembly, ineffective military, inefficient civil service, and police force with an ingrained disrespect for human rights.
The word “Messiah” derives from the Hebrew language and it means “the anointed one” or “the chosen one”. It embodies the Jewish hope of a coming “deliverer” who would end all pain, injustice and suffering. Although the longing for a Nigerian political messiah is understandable, it won’t happen in 2023!
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The Nigerian political climate has been irreversibly altered to a situation in which political principles, ideologies and honour have been abandoned and it’s now standard procedure for political parties to be subjugated to individuals. Nigerian political parties are simply dysfunctional coalitions of office seekers. They no longer operate within the confines of sound political ideology or “best practices” blueprints for public administration. The end result being that the character and service record of the candidates themselves is of far more importance than any party manifesto.
Once again in 2023 the nation is being asked to ignore ideologies and principles and choose between individuals who campaign on the basis of being the nation’s messiah. The APC, LP and PDP candidates have all previously held high political office and their supporters gleefully engage in character assassination of opponents, while distorting history in order to bestow upon their candidate a false sanitised identity. Paradoxically despite all the slander and libel nobody has been able to establish any material fact of corruption against any of them.
The main failing of the three candidates is their messianic campaigns in which they claim there will be a complete change in social order upon their assuming office. Even though all three candidates are guilty of self-deception, one of them will be declared winner as Nigerians are always carried away by campaigns of self-styled saviours in the erroneous belief that their happiness and progress lies in the hands of political saviours. While it’s true that morally fallen societies require divine redeemers or messiahs, imperfect socio-political societies like Nigeria simply require an agreed vision, better plans, better policies and better people in political office. Regrettably the processes of logical thinking are being abandoned by candidates who spew out actions they will take. Actions are supposed to be taken to put policies into effect; policies are supposed to be articulated to carry out plans; and plans are supposed to be formulated in order to achieve a vision. Unfortunately rather than articulate a clear vision for the nation, define a plan of action, articulate sensible policies then take actions, candidates concentrate their campaigns solely on actions to be taken to solve the current problems on ground.
There is every reason to be skeptical that campaign promises will turn out to be empty rhetoric. Unfortunately, Nigerian political campaigns have long since ceased being occasions to listen to serious analysis of problems and proposed solutions, capable of renewing nationalism, fostering measurable progress and igniting social change. The reason for this is understandable. Democratic politics is a game of numbers and one of its biggest flaws is the assumption that everyone thinks rationally. This of course isn’t true. The vote of the most biased and unintelligent Nigerian counts the same as the vote of the most unbiased and highly intelligent one. Nigerian politicians don’t waste time campaigning to the minority of voters who reason dispassionately, instead they concentrate campaigns on the vast majority of voters who habitually are enticed by ethnicity, emotion, gender bias, or cash inducement. Even as candidates regale voters with a plethora of promises it’s important for the eventual winner and incoming President to remember that if everything is a priority, then nothing is! Crippled by nationwide insecurity, economic downturn, and an increasingly valueless currency, Nigeria’s status as one of the leading nations is Africa has eroded.
Perhaps the most urgent crisis is to stop Nigerians fleeing the nation in droves. Nobody wants to continue living in a nation that cannot provide citizens with a decent standard of living, security, proper healthcare and standard educational facilities. There is no doubt that the nation is on the edge and only good proper leadership can return us into a relatively peaceful and prosperous place, but the electorate must take personal responsibility for their condition. There are no political messiahs on the horizon! The nation doesn’t require a “saviour” rather it needs patriotic everyday heroes and citizens committed to nation building. The campaigns of “messaiahs” have failed to address the issue of how to reawaken patriotism.