ON Sunday, November 18, 2018, the campaigns for the 2019 general elections began in line with the guidelines and timetable issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Electioneering periods, even for advanced democracies, can severely task the elasticity of the fabric of a nation. Nigeria is still facing great challenges in the security situation; with the Boko Haram insurgency almost at the same level that we met it in 2015. The situation is worsened by the killings by armed herdsmen, and complicated by the obdurate activities of bandits in the North West, especially Zamfara State.
With the economy still tottering after coming out of recession about a year ago, we have a fragile situation which calls for extreme caution on the part of the political parties and their candidates as they hit the campaign trail and soapboxes. The situation also provides us with ample topical issues to drive the campaigns. It is an opportunity for those elected into office almost four years ago to tell the people what they have done with their money and mandate. It will also give those aspiring to replace them their platforms to prove they can do better if given a chance.
Unlike in 2015 when the campaigns were mainly propaganda- and hate speech-driven, especially on the social media, Nigerians will be waiting for quality, issue-based campaigns and debates on how to create an economy that will impact positively on every area of our national life, especially the security situation.
Fortunately, the two main political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – appear mindful of the challenges of the time, as they have wasted no time in rolling out their campaign agendas. While President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC unfolded its “Next Level” agenda at the State House in Abuja last Sunday, the candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, uploaded his policy document to “Get Nigeria working again” in the internet preparatory for the formal launch on Monday.
We urge all stakeholders to this election – the political parties and their candidates, the INEC, security agencies, media, election monitors and the electorate – to embrace this assignment in the knowledge that elections are mere means to an end: building a stronger democracy and enthroning good government.
We must shun violence but ensure that enemies of our country plotting to sabotage the people’s mandate do not succeed. We must expose these saboteurs and torpedo their evil plans. These upcoming elections must produce the true choice of the Nigerian electorate and nothing less.
We must also be mindful that all eyes are on us (as a recent statement signed by 25 foreign missions in Nigeria indicated) to repeat the feat of a generally credible election which we so proudly established in 2015.
We must not fail.