As 2023 presidential election is fast approaching with parties currently holding their primaries , the battle lines are, no doubt , drawn already among the politicians vying for various political offices at various levels of government; the politicians are back at their usual game of intrigues and manipulations ;however, some voters, ever than before , seem to have decided to make the race memorable with a mission to spring surprise, counterbalance and outwit the political demagogues and charlatans . Will the voters or masses make good their promise and be smart enough not to be manipulated by the self-seeking and corrupt politicians whose stock in trade is to steal the nation bind at their expense? .That is the question whose answer is still hanging in the balance.
The politicians, using every available channel to launch their ambitions and launder their images , in the last few months have continued to come up again with their campaign promises and new tricks to outgun their rivals as well as the electorates . With strong arguments, they are trying hard to convince ,entice ,move and impel the masses that they have what it takes deliver the much expected dividend of democracy with their experiences and capabilities ;they position themselves as the savour of the masses; they are also heating up the polity ,either subtly or openly ,trying to outwit their rivals raising issues that will brighten their chances and demoralize their opponents
A major theme that cut the country concerning 2023 general elections particularly the presidential position dwells on the issue of age and capability as opposed to the so called integrity that delivered that exalted position to incumbent president in 2015 .In this new dispensation people believed that while integrity is imperative it is not enough without capability , physical and mental fitness.
Sequel to this, some of them have engaged in rubbishing zoning system ;they have turned themselves to an apostle, a champion or an espouser of merit as a new culture of politics overnight to counter the protagonist of the usual zoning system
To them ,this is the only way to rationalize their fitness and relevance .Leading this new gospel to jettison zoning in politics ,is the former vice president under the former President Olusegun Obasanjo , Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Though he is being sharply criticized on this new posture, he seems to have a good defence as no clause in the Nigeria constitution backs up zoning and supporters are shielding with this ; their claim is that it is a mere moral clause to ensure peace and harmony among the diverse constituent tribes and divergent cultures that make up the country political landscape .
Despite this , some of his critics, particularly from the southern part of the country ,would not see him as solution to country divergent and multiple problems ; instead , Atiku has succeeded in generating more critics who see him as greedy ,desperate and unfit ; more so , his tribe man is the incumbent president .
The ongoing campaigns are not equally devoid of the usual intrigues and sentiments bordering on tribalism , religious bigotry and smart character assassination as weapons to sell themselves to the electorates. .In the school of thought are those who are rooting a Christian candidate , claiming since the outgoing president is a Muslim, the incoming one should be a Christian . Also, some are agitating for a candidate from the south east part of the country or of Igbo extraction .They claim the region has been politically marginalized for a long time .Finally ,some dwell copiously on age and their ugly antecedents to trash out some contenders regarded as some old timers and brighten their chances
Some of aspirants to the highest political office in the land coming under the harmer of diverse critics based on the above sentiments are the former governor of Lagos State Ahmed Bola Tinubu,Atiku and Kwara state ,Alhaji Bukola Saraki .While the Atiku and Tinubu are being criticized based on their age like Atiku , Saraki comes under his critics sledgehammer as incompetent for his alleged inability to rescue his father’s rested bank and estate that allegedly collapsed under his watch . Despite these critical perspectives on them, their followers see them as experienced and transformative leaders and they believed they have what it takes to tackle the current challenges politically and economically . Tinubu ,particularly, told his traducers that he is not engaging in wrestling contest to be limited by his age
However , all eyes appear to be on some new generation of politicians. These politicians jostling for the most powerful political office have been busy positioning themselves as apostles of merit and intellectual leadership . Among these are the incumbent Vice President ,Yemi Osinbajo ;the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi ; Kingsley Moghalu , a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria ; kayode Fayemi, the outgoing governor of Ekiti State ; Senator Ibikule Amosun ,former governor of Ogun State ; Rotimi Amaechi ,former governor of River State; the incumbent governor of Kogi State ,Yahaya Bello as well as Pastor Tunde Bakare ,to mention just some top contenders to the highest political office in the country .
The above aspirants believed they combine high intellectual pedigree with political leadership and have what it takes to lift this country out of doldrums .
The only influence and power of the electorates in the process of elections is to eventually dictate who their president will be if not manipulated by politicians
But to escape this manipulation is very rare as desperate politicians use money and power with INEC to distort the interests and choices of the people .
The fear has always been, it is either the notorious politicians rig themselves at the primaries or the governors and the president anoint their successors to cover their tracks ..
The politicians are smarter than the electorates ;they know that the most critical hurdle is to manipulate the few corrupt delegates at their political primaries and get the mandate to fly the their party’s flags ; once this is done ,the electorates are left with the limited options to choose from the multitude of aspirants
At the center, a major fear is that the president may have ambushed the voters and anointed a candidate as his successor ; this may eventually determines who flies the party flag among the ruling party contenders .For the major opposition party ,money may dictate who finally gets the party nod
With the situation on ground , the electorates may be still a victim of manipulation losing the opportunity to change the trend since the independence .This view may not be farfetched .The conflicting interests in different camps of the electorates is a pointer to this direction. As usual ,the electorates appear to be confused and uncoordinated .
No doubt , voters have remained grounded in frustration and suffering acute disappointment for more than two decades out of the misrule of both APC and PDP Nigeria had more than seven years of Muhamed Buhari with every year coincided with what is commonly seen as recession. The rate of growth has certainly been sluggish if not negative.
Overall, in the Buhri’s presidency, economic growth has been miserable on yearly basis . Fiscal policy has been all at sea. The federal debt has been growing at almost at a speed threatening the nation’s sovereignty and growing at a rate many times the rate of GDP . The most unfortunate issue is that this government has not concentrated minds on the country’s real imperative to tackle the budget deficit. This has reminded Nigerians that both the Conservative and the Democrat lack the nerve to do what is necessary.
Not all the blame can be laid at Buhari’s door. It was first the PDP who ran up the debt phenomenally . But Mr. Buhari has not tried to haul it down but currently overdoing that. Every evidence suggests that this government is incapable of moving this nation forward
What Nigerians need now are the politicians who have built their careers with care within the system. Those that will not break their moral and intellectual moulds after tasting the power and are good at the game ; those that are ambitious, solicitous of the masses not self-seeking and corrupt ones currently in or outside the power. Those with enormous spark of political courage, and clear veins of principle, not those that are masters of the usual flexible postures or the disingenuous slide and convenient memory lapse.
Although “change” is a theme that brought the incumbent president to power , the expected change in 2023 must be more than mere difference of party but in capacity to deliver the much needed democratic dividends . For this reason , Nigeria’s only hope rests on one of those panting to put into practice the ideas they have been developing for years .
However , despite the above tales of woes ,voters are ,no doubt, sharply divided by their primordial or self interests and emotions of tribalism and religion affiliations forgetting that the politicians are merely using these emotions to divide them to have their ways .
But hope may not lost completely.According to our investigations ,some enlightened ones among them, however , are not throwing caution to the wind , they are currently raising awareness on this . They are not ready be dazzled by the usual campaign razzmatazz this time around or be sidetracked by bimbos, or bigots; they have vowed not to be swayed by religious, political or by party affiliations . Even the usual stomach infrastructures, the baits by the desperate politicians ,may not be a decisive factor that could pin them down to usual unnecessary emotions or tricks from the desperate politicians .
By our investigations , those in this school of thought believed only political candidates with keys to unlock doors to their wellbeing will be ushered to the seats of power by the voters They want a president who could give them jobs , the one who could come up with visible signs of economic growth.
Though this theme is more subdued, enlightened voters are ,no doubt , rooting for political leaders who could lift the country from the current and prevailing hopelessness ;they continue to register in record numbers to make their choices . This segment of electorates seem to be after better dividend .They want jobs. They want visible signs of economic growth. They long for a leader who is patently in command. And, unless a right man or leader is in charge to set these failings right, they believed , in the next fifty years they would be still grounded in frustration.
They have vowed to deemphasize party affiliations as a key determinant of who to vote for .
The rationale behind this may not be far to seek .With enormous resources Nigerians are expected to be basking in self-sufficiencies but instead found themselves in inadequacies prompted by mind boggling corruption and visionless leadership .
Since the new democratic experiment kicked off ,falling real incomes, growing debts, raw social divisions and moral drift are the recurring decimals in the country ; these seemed to be the democratic fruit for more than two decades .
This newspaper believes neither of the parties knows how to govern Nigeria ,nor should get another chance to try again . In the past two decades or more , both have wrecked havoc on the nation with the worst and deep-seated corruption . Yet their campaigns have always been extraordinary with high volume of promises that they consequently failed to deliver .
In 2023 Nigerians needs a better leadership . It needs a leader that can address the country’s real imperative to tackle the budget deficit; and other macroeconomic ill-winds, not a leader that lacks the nerve to do what is necessary. The most unfortunate thing is that no new party is strong enough to take the advantage of the failings of the two dominant parties that have been in power .
The quality of leadership people are advocating is that that gives them a break from the past , not a leader with low intellectual base ;it needs a president who could enable Nigerians to be a high-skill, export-minded economy, trading freely with the world and, secure in its economic health, able to take on the security burdens the nation may require. And it is on the economy that he is mostly needed to prove himself..
A decisive factor to reverse the current frustration is to focus on the capabilities of candidates as opposed to parties in the forthcoming elections. This is because the electorates could only change their fortunes by assessing and electing candidates based on their individual capabilities to deal with the rotten economy and move the economy out of the wood . .
However , while economy revitalization is should be the primary focus of electorates in assessing their candidates political analysts and observers believe there are other major issues that could hinder the move to reviving the economy .Most importantly are insecurity and perennial crisis in the education and aviation sectors to mention just a few .
The spate of insecurity in Nigeria through the activities of bandits, coordinated terrorist groups, kidnappers and perceived separatist movements are some the challenges only a strong leader could handle
In a recent meeting with security agencies in the country, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Prof. Mahmood Yakubu raised concerns over insecurity in the country, and the danger it poses to the conduct of a credible election in 2023.
Not only security , electorates are expected to vote in a leader that could the crisis ridden education sector .Education Sector crisis that is currently raising heated concerns : The Education sector is at an all-time low as Nigerians prepare for the 2023 general elections. The Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU embarked on a nationwide strike which has been on for over three months. The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, SSANU and the Non-Academic Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, NASU, have joined the strike.
Few weeks ago , the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP commenced their warning strike, piling pressure on the education system. With nationwide protests by student groups in the country, a speedy resolution of the issues is critical at this point.
The state of the country Aviation Industry is also raising .Nigeria needs a leader who could resolve the burning issue around this sector of the economy. Following the recent meeting between the National Assembly led by House Speaker Rt.Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Airline Operators of Nigeria and Major Marketers Association of Nigeria, agreed to subsidize 6m litres of aviation fuel to stabilize the market for the next three months . But this is a temporary solution, and the big question is What will happens after August 2022?
To have such a leader, some political observers have been calling for tenure extension for at least 6 months to enable such a critical issue is resolved . This call is being led by some erudite Senior Advocate of Nigeria
The above may not be farfetched .No one could guarantee the continuity of a party projects and policies after its exit from power Nigeria without strong institutions to back this up . If strong institutions had been place ,little fear would have been expressed over any change of government from one party to another or who is at the helm of affairs .
The reported interest of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CON, in the 2023 Presidency could be linked a weak institutional culture . His ambition has continued to raise concerns over the independence of the Central Bank and the sanctity of the institution.
Analysts sharply criticized the move because they believed “the institutional integrity of the regulator should not be sacrificed on the slab of personal political aspirations or public projections of same. The credibility of the CBN’s signaling actions needs ultimate preservation, with no economic or public agents having to second-guess the intentions of the regulatory chief.” It is also noteworthy that the CBN warehouses sensitive election materials, which is why advocacy groups like the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE) have called for efforts to preserve the integrity of the CBN.
Sequel to this weak institutions that make the system to be susceptible to the antics of individuals in power , some political observers is suggesting the need for another Interim National Government. As Nigeria approaches the 30th anniversary of the annulment of the June 12 elections, the talk around the possibilities of an Interim National Government is generating a lot of debates. The Afenifere and well-respected Nigerian Lawyer and Elder statesman Mr. Afe Babablola, SAN, are amongst the protagonists for an Interim Government or a “Government of National Unity” in 2023. They believe the ING should take 6 months to chart a new pathway for Nigeria, especially in constitutional reforms.
APC has not yet proved that its policies are beyond what the cabal dictates .Also , while PDP has been working for eight years on how to return to power and making case to be given a chance to try , it is still the other side of the same coins . In a nutshell , without strong institutions in place to the system , the only alternative for the electorates is to keep an eagle on candidates during their campaigns and vote in the that could prove himself to be far more than a token candidate but intelligent and energetic ; the one that has grasped most of the issues raised above with persuasive solutions to them ; the leader that could deliver or mark an end to divided government and could bring Nigerians , rich and poor, closer together.