Mr. Man, what does your candidate have to offer? by Niran Adedokun

Mr. Man, what does your candidate have to offer? by Niran Adedokun

‎A casual observer of Nigerian politics should be happy with the level of citizens’ conversations toward the coming elections. In churches, mosques, offices, schools, in fact anywhere you see two or three people gathered, chances that they are discussing the coming elections are as certain as the rising of the sun from the east.

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And that is, ordinarily, a good development. I cannot recall any time in Nigeria’s recent history that has generated as much interest as the upcoming elections, especially on social media. Nigerians now seem very conscious of the opportunities that elections afford them in determining their future and that of the country.

But if you pay attention to most of these debates, you would query the quality of discourse even among a lot of educated and supposedly well informed Nigerians. When countries get close to elections like this, discussions usually center on issues and plans of office seekers to address those issues.

I haven’t seen most of that in Nigeria in spite of the long years of poor leadership that the country has suffered. Discussions on why Nigerians support the two most popular presidential candidates in the upcoming elections are mostly centered on emotions.

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For instance, while a lot of supporters of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan have no concrete knowledge of the achievements that should qualify him for another term, a number of supporters of Gen Muhammadu Buhari would hinge their desire for the former head of state on the need for change.

If you go further to ask what would signify this change, you would hear stuff like, “there is too much corruption in the country and GEJ is not doing anything about it, so we need change” That is a point deserving some consideration in my opinion. But then. you go ahead to ask “what strategy has your candidate put forward for tackling corruption?” and you get the reassurance that all corrupt people would go to jail as General Buhari promised during one of his rallies in the past week.

Buhari’s take on sending all corrupt people to Kirikiri Prisons is enough reasons for Nigerians to begin to query the good old general’s understanding of the anatomy of corruption in Nigeria as well as the treatment of people accused of any form of crime under a democratic dispensation.

His statement in Uyo last week suggests that the General would supervise the arrest of people, ensure that they go to court, sit over their cases, sentence them and then decide the prisons to which they will be sent. One supporter even told me that Buhari’s comment “may mean that he wants to sanitise the judiciary” What power does an elected president have to “sanitise” the judiciary?

Even President Jonathan, in spite of the tag of his government’s permissiveness for corruption has been very tentative in his explanations about what he has done and would do about the malaise of corruption.  I recall vague and snide comments about why he would not put people in crates and how he would strengthen institutions but none of this shows an understanding of the factors that encourage corruption as you would expect from someone who has been president for five years.

So since  campaigns started last week, these candidates, understanding our love for the sensational have been at each  other’s throats, throwing jabs at each other and giving us ecstatic moments without any concrete takeaways. Of course they know the places where our shoes pinch most and they offer us vague promises which get us momentarily excited and hopeful without finding out how these promises will be accomplished.

However, If we truly hope for the development of Nigeria, we must demand the manifestos of candidates. We must go ahead and study them, understand them and raise questions about unclear areas.

Reversing the parlous state of our economy, reducing the level of poverty in the land, improving Education, healthcare delivery and security are some of the issues that those aspiring for office must avail the electorate the opportunity of a road map.  The 2015 elections present Nigerians a unique opportunity to set the country on the path of irreversible growth but only an informed electorate and not an emotional one would guarantee that this happens.

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