UNLESS we do more than we are doing now, the 2015 elections would produce the same unsatisfying outcomes we have had since 1999. We complain loudly without addressing our concerns. The lengthening complaints about politicians have little to do with political parties.
Almost everything boils down to quality of candidates – the quality, in sufficient numbers, is regrettably low.
Across the parties, candidates who offer themselves for elections, those who are mostly pressed to run for office, and their supporters within the system, have cast methods that leave voters with minimal knowledge of candidates. While we are supposed to vote for candidates with character and credentials, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through its election time-table has minimal provision for adequate scrutiny of our future leaders.
We have paid dearly for the oversight since 1999. We would pay the same price again, this time, as the parties have pushed their own scrutiny to so late a time, that we can hardly do anything about the process. We can do something in our search for strong voices to represent the voiceless; We want candidates who would tell us what they would do with Nigeria when elected, and have a history of working for the common good.
It is important to know why anyone would want to lead Nigeria when the predictions are gloomy. We would want to know how candidates intend to govern us, with clear milestones for assessing how they would re-direct us from drifting. Should we not also know what experiences, qualifications, and records of participation in projects for public good, candidates have?
Nigerians’ dissatisfaction with our 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. The joint impact results in frustrations with almost all governments throughout Nigeria.
We can get out of this jam by engaging political aspirants. Our numerous non-governmental organisations and other civil society organisations should commence programmes that would screen candidates on behalf of the public.
They should use town hall meetings and voters’ education to pull the public into processes that would elect candidates. Public involvement should be expanded to counter established indifference of political parties and INEC to voters’ education.
For candidates, it is time they made themselves available. They should sell themselves to the public. People want to know candidates’ stand on issues: major, minor.
Most importantly, the public wants to know how their leaders intend to ensure a secure future for Nigerians, beyond current concerns.
Candidates should engage the public with their programmes to test their suitability. The people know what they want. Such interface would deepen our democracy.