UNLESS we do a lot more than we are doing now, the 2015 elections would produce the same unsatisfying outcomes as we have had since 1999 and for which we have loudly complained without addressing our concerns.
The results, and the lengthening complaints about politicians and their ways, have little to do with political parties. Almost everything boils down to quality of candidates – the quality, in high numbers, is regrettably poor.
Across the parties, candidates who offer themselves for elections, those who are mostly pressed to run for office and those who support them within the system, have created methods that leave voters with minimal knowledge about candidates. While we are supposed to vote for candidates with character and credentials, INEC’s time-table for elections have minimal provision for adequate scrutiny of those who want to lead us.
We have paid direly for the oversight since 1999. We would pay the same price again if there are no strong voices, representing the voiceless, who are asking candidates what they would do with Nigeria when elected.
It is important to know why anyone would want to lead Nigeria when the predictions are that we are heading the wrong way. We would want to know how the candidates intend to govern us, with clear milestones for assessing how far leaders are re-directing us from drifting. Should we not also know what experiences, qualifications, and records of participation in projects for public good that candidates have?
Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with the current political system stems from two points, the near total neglect of the welfare of the people and the aversion of public office holders to accountability. Their joint impact results in the frustrations that governments are serving almost throughout the country.
We can get out of this jam by early engagement of political aspirants. Our numerous non-governmental organisations, and other civil society organisations, should commence programmes that would screen candidates on behalf of the public by asking that candidates go public with their programmes.
They should use town hall meetings and voters’ education to pull the public more into processes that would elect candidates. The political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, ignore voters’ education. It should be different this time. Public involvement should be expanded.
For candidates, it is time they made themselves available. They should sell themselves to the voting public. We are keen on knowing where they stand on issues major, minor.
Most importantly, the public wants to know what their leaders would do to ensure a future for present and up-coming generations of Nigerians. These are matters candidates should discuss and devise programmes to make the future fruitful. Elections are just 10 months away.