…Knocks CSOs for holding only FG accountable, evasive on states, LGs
…Electorate confused by politicians – Prof Emem
By Egufe Yafugborhi
DIRECTOR General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof Eghosa Osaghae, has said Nigerians politicians seeking elective offices are so apathetic to issue based debates and elections campaigns because they know there are far easier shortcuts to election victories.
Prof Osaghae was speaking Wednesday in Port Harcourt, Rivers state at the 2022 Citizens Get Together, the interactive gathering convened towards every election year by good governance advocacy group, the Unity House Foundation (UHF) to sensitise stakeholders on the challenges and solutions for free, fair and peaceful polls.
Responding to the worry by Dr Daware George, former Reps member and Rivers Action Alliance governorship candidate, on why candidates tend to dread and avoid issue based debates and campaigns, the DG NIIA, said, “The reason is simple. They do so because there are shortcuts to electoral victories they depend on.
“They see issue based debates, consultations or campaigns as a waste of time insignificant to winning elections. And those who dwell on and take issues and visions serious are seen as not serious, too academic. The tell them they are just speaking theory. That it is not by grammar, yet ideas rule the world.
“The consequence of that narrative gaining prominence in our democratic process is that we have been increasingly promoting the very worst of our kind to take hold of leadership. So when Nigerian leaders find themselves in comparative situations and you hear our people talk, it suddenly dawns on you that we have a long way to go.”
Espousing the shared blame on how the leaders and the led contribute to bad governance in Nigeria, Prof Osaghae said, ” I find it laughable that civil society organisations in Nigeria are more focused on holding federal government accountable. When it comes to the states and local governments, they are not there, we don’t see them”
Fellow Professor of Political Science, Emem Ekekwe lamented on the occasion that in, “Nigeria as of today, the electorate is confused. And it is the leaders who have confused them. We don’t know what is more important, our state, our ethnic background, our religion, political party or sundry groupings of divisiveness.
“What we do know is that all of us are hungry. We do know all of us need employment, all of us need to have inflation, insecurity brought down. So what are those things about democracy. It is that we must identify those issues, bring those issues before the electorate. And as leader, as a party, it is your business to convince those people.
“Democracy is about freewill. The culture of democracy believes that the person who knows what is best for him or her is the individual. That is why we go by the majority. The majority may not be right. And if they are not right, take them from whey they are and lead them to what you (leaders) believe is the right direction.
“So leave the personalities, leave those secondary issues of sentiments about where you come from and so on. What are you going to do for me to put food on my table? What are you going to do for society to make sure our schools run interrupted, there is decent hospital for anyone who is sick? Let’s confront the issues if we are sincere about what we are doing.”
Weneda Wali, Team Lead on the UHF noted that the election conversation series which has become a needful ritual towards every general elections has remarkably contributed to lowering the height of tension and strife associated with elections as the gathering sensitises all stakeholders in the election chain to be alive to their responsibility with integrity.
Aside George, the Rivers AA guber candidate, Tonye Cole of the All Progressives Congress (APC) also witnessed the occasion with most other candidates who were absent were in a simultaneous meeting with Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Friday Eboka, for a gathering for usual signing of peace pact ahead of the elections.