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Case For Issue Based Election Campaign

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I have sat down to critically look at the issues or likely campaign issues that would dominate the political space when INEC finally gives the political parties the green light to begin their campaigns in November. It is saddening to note that our political parties are essentially going to cluster our political space with the same campaign strategy that was largely employed during the 2015 campaign period. Nothing seems to be drastically different from the past.

What we are seeing so far between the two dominant parties, the APC and the PDP, is, to say the least, far below expectation. The two parties seem to be in a haste to go for each other’s jugular instead of wooing the loyalty and support of Nigerian electorate. There is nothing so far to show that we will see the kind of campaigns that will elevate and advance our democracy after about 20 years of democracy practice.   A child of 20 years is no more a minor but an adult responsible for his actions and inactions.

A glimpse of what to expect during the campaign period was shown with the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and President Muhammadu Buhari, as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The two presidential candidates through their different campaign organs have not spared anything in attacking each other, a clear case of campaign of hatred, vendetta and calumny with so much venom.

The political parties need to be reminded that the Nigerian electorate are tired of this throwing of muds and name calling instead of addressing issues that will help us assess their capabilities, competences and capacity to understand the problems of the time. They should know that the society, and in fact the global community has taken major steps ahead since after the 2015 election. So many events have taken place to redefine the issues bothering the global community and the expectations of same global community from the president of Nigeria come 2019.

We will be fooling ourselves by thinking that the election of Nigeria in 2019 is our internal business, and so should not bother the world. It is safer to say that the outside world especially the developed economies will be more interested in what happens and who emerges our president in the 2019 elections because of the so many implications it would have for them in determining the safety of their interests, the stability of the African continent and the world market. The world will want to see Nigeria get things right, and this starts with electing a worthy president that is to be trusted to shape a new Nigeria order.

In climes where governance is taken seriously, these mundane political jabs currently thrown by  the APC and the PDP are non-issue as they do not determine a politician’s acceptability or otherwise. What defines character and strength of parties and politicians is what they offer intellectually and their capacity to dissect issues that touch the life of the common man, the health of the economy, security, guarantee of freedom of fundamental human rights, nationhood etc. The French people did not care a hoot if their First Lady was a lecturer of their President, Emmanuel Macron, in the university and a lot older than him before electing him as their number one citizen. If it were to be in Nigeria, the heavens will be brought down and political opponents will make it their party’s main preoccupation and campaign slogan, all in an effort to discredit Mr. Macron.

The Americans, whom we so much copy in everything but not in anything good, showed the stuff they are made of when at the height of Monicagate, President Bill Clinton’s popularity rating still stood high. What was the Americans’ reaction to the whole Monica Lewinsky saga, they humorously asked for President Bill Clinton from waist to head. In other words, they did not pull down or reject President Bill Clinton for his “inappropriate relationship” with Monica Lewinsky, because Clinton was delivering good governance. Americans wanted result and not fairy tales.

By way of setting agenda for the political parties when campaign kicks off, we want to see campaigns that are robust; devoid of pettiness and divisiveness. We have more than enough critical issues that are germane to our growth as a nation for the politicians to address. They should not show us that they are unprepared for governance of this country by resorting to gutter languages that will demean their party and lower their personalities. We do not want campaigns that will turn our youths into thugs and killers, we do not want campaign talks that will create more widows and widowers, more orphans, more homeless citizens and more internally displaced persons. The country already has more than her fair share of these societal issues. We do not want the politicians in their campaigns to aggravate our problems.

– Iheanacho writes from Lagos.

To Be Continued



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