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As 2019 Election Campaigns Kick-off



November 18 marks the formal commencement of soapbox activities that will climax in February next year with the general elections. We use the word formal advisedly recognising the fact that politicking has been on for quite a while. Politicians have remained active in the media and behind the scene, plotting strategies and engaging constituents and supporters in methods that are considered not too constructive, though still part of the struggle for political power.

Before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) flagged-off the campaigns, a lot had happened in the political arena to cause trepidation in the minds of most Nigerians as to what to expect as the days roll by. Nigerians are, indeed, circumspect in their expectations both as to the quality of the candidates and their ability to make their lives better in the event that they scale through at the polls. The confusion is reinforced by the snippets of what took place during the political parties’ primaries, a process of selecting candidates for the elections. What happened during that exercise, to a large extent, did leave sour taste in the mouths of most Nigerians who are beginning to wonder what will happen during the polls proper.

It is taken for granted that in the power game, as in love and war, all is fair. That may explain the unthinking resort to character assassination, obscene deployment of money, thuggery, killing, maiming as well as litigations and counter-litigations. These unwholesome behaviours that visited the primaries, the outcome of those intra-party manoeuvrings, and the sheer extent politicians were ready to go in the quest for political office are still raising doubts as to the real intention of those seeking to lead.

Many are beginning to worry that a lot more is involved than meets the public eye. Why would anyone indulge in such acts of the macabre if it is all about service? It is easy to understand that power is not served while one waits, as it is taken and not given, still, does it justify the level of bestiality, the unkind bruising of the sensibilities of Nigerians by office seekers during the primaries?

Between November and February next year, from what is known about the political class, the nation will be, literally speaking, perching, precariously on the edge of a precipice. For most of the political players, it has become a do or die affair, victory at all cost or the nation will be dragged down with their failures and disappointments. Such attitude calls to question the democratic credentials of the players as it is expected that, in a democracy as in sports, there must necessarily be winners and losers.

For most Nigerians, even as mere voters, they are trying to make sense of the near rascality of the politicians who go about creating the impression that they must be in the aspired office or hell will be let loose. On a daily basis, these ordinary Nigerians struggling to eke out a living in the midst of the material obscenity of the their so called leaders, wake up to words and actions that do not give hope of a Nigeria that will emerge stronger after the polls.

As these shenanigans continue to dominate the political space, the call for issue-based campaigns have also commanded attention in the public space. What are these issues? They are many and include the unacceptably high level of unemployment, particularly among the youth; the dearth of infrastructure – roads, power, schools, hospitals and water. Nigerians want the office seekers to address these issues. They expect them to discuss matters relating to good governance, how to rein in the monster known as corruption. Nigerians want the state of insecurity in the land to be put in the front burner of public discourse and addressed constructively; they want the politicians to proffer solutions to the lingering farmers/herders clashes that are a real threat to food security. Nigerians, those who are fortunate to have jobs at all, are asking for a living wage; they are demanding for a reduction in the cost of governance. They want peace so as to be able to go about their legitimate undertakings without fear.

Curiously, not much of these issues are receiving the desired attention beyond the usual banalities that are of little relevance to the welfare of the people. This newspaper insists that these issues must be addressed in a manner that will help the electorate to make informed choices.       



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