There is no doubt that election time in Nigeria is usually heralded by high level of political activities. Usually, Politicians at this time can make promises of anything of no real benefit, which nevertheless, makes people feel better. But as soon as they get to power, they forget the promises and instead, cart away the choice fruits of governance. This odd and nebulous kind of politics that have been promoted overtime, have characterized our brand of politicking in Nigeria.
As the 2015 election in Nigeria gradually draws near, politicians in different political parties, are strategizing on the best way possible to win election. The two major political parties – PDP and APC – are looking for ways and means to outwit each other politically, and the ‘weaker’ ones are looking to show presence while mustering political sagacity to make themselves more relevant and active during the March/April elections.
These are indeed interesting times in the Nigerian political scene as political alignments, re-alignments, mergers, defections and what have you, continue to reverberate within the length and breadth of the nation. Critical and strategic permutations by key political actors and grandmasters continue, in line with the often stated dictum that “in politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.”
As is usual with all activities preceding elections in Nigeria, politicians often come with a plethora of assurances, pledges and rhetorical excesses, aimed at persuading voters to cast their votes for them. For some Nigerians, this is another season of endless rhetorical competition. Political gladiators take the centre stage deploying resonant rhetorical strategies to persuade the electorates on the correctness of their preferred course of action and the policies they intend to implement, if elected.
Although persuasion does occur in the political arena, it is also undoubtedly common, especially among elites with well-developed views. However, Nigerians have had to contend with political deceptions, betrayals and endless rhetorical excesses of the political elite during electioneering campaigns. The 2015 elections might not be an exception and indeed, it is gradually proving so. A typical Nigerian politician has proved that he is not trustworthy. Thus, it has become essential to look at the place of deliberation and argumentation in politics and for the electorates to begin to check the rising excesses of empty political rhetoric’s by the elites in the country, knowing that it shapes political contestation.
It is common to see politicians during campaigns and political rallies weaving a web of endless and empty political promises to the numerous electorates who are not usually given any opportunity to ask questions as to feasibility or otherwise of the promises made during the campaigns. Most politicians utter words without restraints, sing songs of victory on the podium for victory and success never achieved and set in motion a campaign of calumny against their opponents or other opposition political parties who they perceive as formidable opposition; all geared towards furthering their personal agenda.
Old habits they say die hard and indeed, the habit of hearing the same thing from our politicians over and over again have not only made Nigerian brand of politics boring and uninteresting, but portrayed the political class as ideologically empty, creatively poor, mentally lazy and intellectually unequipped to tackle the challenges of leadership. That is why in the course of the political campaigns, no decision is anchored on the overriding necessity for an absolute protection of the national interest against the backdrop of sectional and selfish scheming, squirming from the ranks of opposition. Today, there are more and more discussions about political parties and their flag bearers winning the 2015 election, but less discussion on ensuring a violence-free 2015 general elections.
In Nigerian brand of politics, reliability and stability are becoming strange to us. When a politician says he is with you, you can be certain that he is not really with you. This is because, immediately he finishes telling you this minute, you can see him in the next minute with your political opponent in another meeting and when you confront him, he will tell you it is politics.
Who believes the promises of a Nigerian politician when he is speaking? The answer is as far flung as travelling from the earth to the moon. The generation where every man’s word was his bond is dead. It was former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who said that when a politician’s words cannot be believed, it means then, that politics is being turned into another thing. Therefore, emphasizing that, a politician must be a man or woman of honour that believes in morality.
Again, research and data collection for today’s politicians has become an impossible task. These are people who aim to lead us and as such, they should not just be knowledgeable, but should have facts and figures of what they intend to correct and do. But the utterances of these politicians, suggest that they do not know what exactly is going on. That is why at political rallies, real issues on how to tackle corruption, unemployment, infrastructural decay, economic growth etc are not discussed. What usually take precedence are sweeping statements like I will end corruption, I will provide jobs, I will build roads etc. The electorates are not told how the corruption will be ended, the amount of money stolen in the life of the incumbent administration and the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies that are most culpable. Also, electorates are not told how the jobs will be provided, in which sectors of the economy and at what time in the life of the coming administration. Electorates are also not told how many Federal roads are in deplorable condition, how many of such roads need reconstruction and how many new roads will be built, the ones that need urgent attention etc. Accordingly, what most of these candidates exhibit in political rallies are confusion, crass ignorance and abject incompetence thus, the electorates are bombarded with all manner of lies, half-truths and tales by moonlight.
Again, the practice of one political party throwing tantrums at the other during campaigns is now a tradition. This fight for party supremacy has gradually crept into the national psyche and manifested when it mattered most when APC and PDP failed to join hands in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgents but instead, chose to trade tackles when they should have acted responsibly for the common good of Nigeria. The dirty fight was so bad that PDP said the opposition was behind Boko Haram while APC also responded in same way. Instead of firing sorties at the merchants of death, they shot poisoned darts at themselves and left the country bleeding dangerously.
Indeed! a radical revolution is needed in Nigeria today, to clear the polity of these brands of established politicians and replace them with men and women who play politics of ideas and advancement. Collective politics must take over personal politics for personal gains. And in other for the electorates to be free from another round of deception, betrayals and empty promises here are some questions the electorates should consider in picking a candidate of their choice.
What are my expectations in relation to the expectations of the society?
Which candidate can best meet these expectations?
What claims/promises were made by the candidates?
What facts or statistics were provided to back up claims made?
What alternative solution are the candidates coming with?
Which candidate has shown adequate and clear understanding of key issues at stake?
Which of the candidate out of the lots have a proven track record of performance?
Which candidate has the strong desire for a progressive and united nation? Etc.
Electorates must not just look out for candidates with personal charm and charisma, but who burns for Nigeria on the inside. A candidate that if elected, will bring about a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility and one committed to constructive cooperation among the different spheres of the society.
My fellow Nigerians, we are in this together, when we vote in this election, we’ll be deciding what kind of country we want to live in. whether is a country of our dreams or that of our differences.
A people who seek for a better future must lay the foundation today.

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