THE various political parties vying for the presidency in 2019 deserve commendation for successfully concluding their primaries and producing presidential candidates with minimal friction and rancour. As the October 7, 2018, deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) expired, no fewer than 29 of the 91 registered political parties were ready with their flag-bearers.
Apart from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which retained President Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate, the main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) elected former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the impending battle for Aso Villa in 2019. Other prominent names which clinched the tickets of their parties include: Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressive Party (YPP); Mr. Donald Duke, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
Others are: Mr. Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Mr. Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC); Mr. Tope Fasua, Abundance Nigeria renewal Party (ANRP); Chief Olusegun Mimiko, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP), among others.
An interesting feature of this assortment of presidential candidates is that many activists, intellectuals and technocrats have now joined a venture which was once a preserve of hardcore, “professional” politicians. Secondly, most of the candidates of the newer political parties are renowned eggheads with international connections and experiences. The quality of discourse, debates and campaigns is bound to be richer than what we have seen in the past, particularly the 2015 election which was more of a verbal warfare.
We call on all the political parties and their presidential candidates to live up to our expectations by forcing the two major, entrenched political parties to focus on core issues that will bring about improved governance no matter who wins the general elections. They must resist the temptation and antics of the paid agents of candidates and their political parties to drag popular attention to the character assassination of opponents, mudslinging, muckraking, barefaced lies, hate speeches and false propaganda which misled a lot of gullible Nigerians in the past.
Those seeking re-election must be made to justify their quest with concrete achievements, while those seeking to replace the incumbents must show why they are the better choices. We must join hands and go all out to frustrate those will seek to deceive the people with false claims and empty promises; and expose those who failed to keep their promises.
We call on the contestants to be fired up by the consistent poor ratings in almost all areas of human endeavour in which Nigeria languishes. The quality of the presidential candidates on display is very high. Nigeria needs the best of her human capital to seize the commanding heights of governance.
The time to break with poor quality leadership has come.