Idealist like myself would always wish to picture the theatrics inherent in the present electoral processes leading to the emergence of a new or continuation of the incumbent administration to govern our great country, Nigeria, for the next four years; to be saturated with optimism,
popular participation, healthy competition and incisive debates based on issues. Rather, and unfortunately so, the reality quickly hits people like me on the head to reawaken us from our day-dreaming fantasies; reminding us that we are in desperate times when and where the order of the day is characterized by inordinate ambitions, greed, cheap divisive primordial sentiments, campaign of calumny and politically motivated violence.
It is expected that with the crippling challenges confronting our country such as the ravaging insecurity, frustrated army of unemployed people, excruciating poverty, corruption or stealing, the plight of internally displaced people, lack of sufficient and efficient critical infrastructure and the dwindling oil prices in the international market; the campaigns would be issue based with very little of propaganda and calumny. So far, the political class has failed to behave responsibly in that direction and have shown only blind desperation for power.
The national cake (juicy elective positions) is the premium price that all political parties and their candidates have sworn to capture by hook or crook; in this direction, their actions so far have spoken louder than their words. While they sign peace-accords and make rhetoric on engaging in issues based campaign; in a blink of an eye, they are caught on podiums engaging in diatribes, hate-speeches and campaign of calumny. While their overzealous supporters are obsessively engaged in threats, insults, pelting of opponents, destruction of opponent campaign paraphernalia, divisive media propaganda and politically motivated violence.
For instance, it is common knowledge that the convoy of the President, the presidential candidate under the People’s Democratic Party, was pelted in some northern states (Katsina, Bauchi and Taraba) and his campaign vehicle was burnt in Plateau state. While just the other day, there were explosions and gunfire at Okrika in Rivers state when the All Progressive Congress governorship candidate was holding a rally. Before now, militants in the Niger-Delta held a meeting in Bayelsa and threatened to plunge the country into war should the incumbent president lose the election. This politically motivated violence is being simultaneously carried out with sustained media campaign of calumny and hate which is exploiting our fault-lines to win cheap political point, with the ruling People’s Democratic Party leading the pack.
On a daily basis, the support base of the two leading contending presidential candidates have so far been falling over themselves to get noticed as the leading campaigners of their benefactors. As for the supporters of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, they have thrown caution into the wind, with media adverts that not only instigate tension along our ethno-religious fault-lines but also prepare a fertile environment for violent confrontation irrespective of the outcome of the elections. While for the opposition presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari; the enthusiasm generated by his candidacy is fast transmuting into blind extremism, which is fast becoming a do or die affair for a larger percentage of his supporters.
In my state, Kaduna, the same scenario is playing out with threat, insults and politically motivated violence being perpetrated by the two leading contenders. The high point was the outburst by the Governor, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, who threatened retaliation against the APC governorship candidate, Mallam Nasir El-rufai and his supporters, during the launch of his campaign in the face of any provocation. This was followed by the pelting and booing of the governor by some suspected APC supporters, and aggressive reactions by the governor’s security details and supporters in some areas of the state such as Bakin Ruwa and Kabala West.
The representative of the Army, Commander, 1 Division Internal Security Force, Brigadier General John Malu told the media that, “during the APC presidential rally, many vehicles were damaged because they were not carrying the posters of some candidates. Again, I personally screened people entering venue of the recent PDP presidential rally and I discovered arms concealed under the clothes of people and seized a lot of them”. He further went on to say “no political party can be exonerated of violence in Kaduna state”.
Amidst all this desperation, critical issues that are central to the development of our nation and the security and welfare of the people have largely gone missing; it is becoming ever evident that the political class has become too desperate to separate governance and politics, which has so far seen personal ambition overtaking the desire for selfless service and sacrifice to the nation. Furthermore, this would be the closest elections to call in the anal of our democratic journey as an evolving nation; with the expanding political support base and political affiliations outside the traditional boundary of popularity of General Muhammadu Buhari across the country. This has so far rattled the presidency and the PDP, as it is evident in its reactions. While the president on his part is relying on the projects so far executed by his administration and the incumbency factor, which has so far withstood the test of time, as no sitting democratic president has lost a re-election bid.
Our hope is that the desperation of the political class does not lead to the destruction of our beloved country; because without Nigeria, their inordinate ambitions are futile and our future would be in crisis. True leadership is founded on selfless sacrifice and influence, and not on deception, threat and violence. What we need in Nigeria more than ever is true leaders and not power worshippers. We, the followers must eschew violence and resist any attempt to be enticed with money or cajoled into voting base on cheap primordial sentiments when the elections starts by March 28th. We should vote only leaders that have the integrity and political will to secure us and our properties, and also meet our welfare need.