ON September 28, 2022, the campaigns for the elections formally went into full swing, according to the timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Already, some of the serious 18 registered political parties have flagged off their campaigns.
We are, however, disturbed at the use of unprintable words by some political parties and candidates in describing their opponents rather than selling their party manifestos and visions to the electorate. This is not the way to go. This must be nipped in the bud before it becomes the trend or boils over into violence.
We need the political parties and their candidates to tell us what they have in store for Nigeria. Nigerians are reeling from economic strangulation, bloodshed, kidnapping, terrorism, banditry, oil theft, unbearable cost of living, the widening circle of poverty, youth unemployment (and unemployability) and other indicators of system failure. The flooding in 33 of our 36 states has compounded existing woes.
The candidates who have stepped forward to replace President Muhammadu Buhari should tell Nigerians how they plan to move the nation forward. We want to hear more from them, not their spokespersons. The electorates want to be able to choose wisely and directly hold their leaders to account. Nigerians know all the antics politicians deployed to win elections only to put the nation where it is. We want to hear how the candidates plan to take us out of our miseries.
It is desirable that eligible voters critically assess all the candidates seeking elective offices and make their choices accordingly, without let or hindrance, or coercion of any hue, be it ethnic, religious, regional or partisan considerations.
Voters should be wary of those who dish out empty propaganda messages or use fake news to campaign. Those that resort to the use of force, violence, financial inducement and intimidation to compel citizens to rally or vote for them are forewarning us of how they will govern if voted into power. If they succeed through force, they will rule through force.
After 23 years of our renascent democracy, our polity is undergoing self-renewal. The youth and other eligible voters who were hitherto apathetic to politics and elections are now getting involved. Smart candidates should target the huge number of PVC holders who don’t usually vote but are ready to do so now. In 2019, over 80 million voters were registered but only 34.7 per cent voted. Smart campaigns should woo these undecided or “swing” voters.
The National Peace Committee should go beyond just persuading candidates to commit to peaceful elections and accept results. As a group of statesmen and eminent persons, they should establish a bureau for monitoring and documentation of election utterances and misconducts to identify those who violate the terms of their undertaking.