by Abdullahi Yunusa
Going by the INEC’s election timetable, we are still some weeks away from the February 2015 general polls, but prevailing events, with regards to political activities, paint a picture of an exercise scheduled to hold tomorrow. Campaigns across all levels have reached feverish pitch, with respective party candidates trying hard to dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts’. Everything in the country has been overshadowed by the forthcoming elections. Discussions, deliberations and plans on issues critical to the overall survival of Nigeria as a country have been relegated to the background.
We really have to be brutally frank to each other. Should we continue in this direction, we would one day wake up and discover that the very country we proudly call our own has ceased to exist.
We need to constantly remind those seeking elective positions the need for them to anchor their campaigns on facts, figures and verifiable statistics and not on mundane matters. We expect these men to narrow their arguments to how they intend to raise the bar of leadership, improve security, provide qualitative and highly subsidized education and healthcare, eradicate corruption and put in place schemes that will promote entrepreneurship. This is the way to go. So far, with due respect to members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigerians are eagerly waiting for candidates flying their flags to clearly sell their programmes or manifesto to them. Regrettably, what we’ve so far been witnessing is nothing short of incivility, lawlessness and absence of common sense. They have deliberately refrained from commenting on core issues of development. Instead, they major strongly on irrelevant issues. Obviously, we cannot afford to watch them pollute the entire system with their indecorous utterances and actions.
Why are our politicians not harping on the many socio-economic and political malaise confronting Nigeria? Why are the campaigners not stating in clear terms what they intend to carry out if given the opportunity to govern? Truth be told, I am yet to watch or listen to any moving or convincing speech, especially from the duo of General Muhammadu Buhari of the APC and Dr Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP since they kick started their campaigns. In place of excellent speech delivery, we are now treated to raw insults, invectives, buck passing and character assassination. The question is, how did we get to this sorry state?
Let me quickly dwell on the obvious shortcomings inherent in the campaigns of both President Goodluck Jonathan and that of General Muhammadu Buhari. It’s been a disastrous outing for both of them, especially in the case of Goodluck Jonathan. Both of them have reduced campaigns to a matter of you “insult me and I insult you back” matter. Nothing convincing, statesmanly and gentlemanly in their utterances.
Let me begin with the outings of the Presidential candidate of the APC, General Muhammadu Buhari so far. Many had really expected Gen. Buhari to have armed himself with necessary details as to how he intends to run Nigeria’s economy if elected. Instead, Gen. Buhari has chosen to be very brief in his remarks at a time Nigerians want him to speak more. Those managing Buhari should see beyond responding to missiles from the PDP alone. Running a successful campaign machinery requires a holistic programme of action.
Now to the campaigns of Dr Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP. Unfortunately, Dr Jonathan began his campaign rally on a very disastrous and disappointing note in Lagos. Like his APC counterpart, Jonathan deliberately shot himself in the feet by dwelling more on the personality of Buhari and forgot to harp on the transformation efforts of his administration. He spoke like an angry person. Many had expected President Jonathan to dwell more on what he has done since he assumed office in the last six years.
Mr President, we all know you to be a humble, easy-going and can’t-hurt-a-fly kind of individual. What has suddenly gone wrong? This is not how to go about it. Remember, you are still our president. The nation is still under your control. So, refrain from making comments capable of worsening the situation on ground. We love the former you. That calm, easy-going, humble and quiet you. These were the very qualities that endeared you to many, way back in 2011.
From the foregoing review, without doubt, Buhari and Jonathan are yet to convince Nigerians on why any of them should be voted into power come February 14. As they continue their campaign visits to other states, they should do well to scale down on rhetorics and dwell more on serious issues. No buck passing, mudslinging, hate speech, character assassination and other indecorous conducts. They should do well to caution their supporters against making careless utterances. Campaigns should be based on ideas, issues and implementable policies. Politicians shouldn’t go into the forthcoming polls with an i-must-win-at-all-cost mentality. No one’s political aspirations should be placed beyond national considerations. Elections will come and go; Nigeria will remain a united country. It’s called election, not war.