February 25, 2023 is an important day for Nigerians. Once again, we will begin to elect political leaders that will govern us for another four years. If we choose the right leaders, there will be hope that Nigeria will move forward. Otherwise, we will remain in our present state of underdevelopment.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted the ban on campaign for the elections last ýear. Ever since, the candidates of the registered parties have been busy on the streets appealing to the people to vote for them. In all, a total of 18 political parties were given the go-ahead by INEC to contest the elections while All Progressive Congress (APC), People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) are leading in the campaigns.

Right now, the song on the lips of most campaigners is that people should vote their conscience. Each time I listen to the radio or watch the television that is what I hear or see. Even our president, Muhammadu Buhari, has called on Nigerians to vote their conscience. Well, if you check very well you will discover that voting our conscience ìn our previous elections since 1960 is why we ended up choosing the wrong leaders. When they enter office, they begin to show their true colours.

They loot the public treasury, to start with. Secondly, they appoint unqualified persons based on friendship, ethnicity; religion, family ties, politics and other evil, selfish reasons. Thirdly, these same leaders without conscience govern us in a way that favours certain categories of people rather than as father of the nation. Fourthly, they introduce policies and programmes as well as make statements that divide the people. Fifthly, they operate a government that leaves the citizens poor, hungry, homeless and insecure even in their houses. Sixthly, they create more unemployment in the country which is one reason crime is on the increase today.

These leaders become inaccessible once they get into power. Meanwhile, while begging for votes, they mixed freely with the people; shook hands, ate and drank with them in addition, their gates were wide open to welcome them to their homes during campaign, and when in office they cannot be seen them.

They move around in big, flashy cars with heavy security and noisy sirens that chase poor and hungry common people away from the streets; and as if that is not enough, when elected, these leaders choose to be deaf to the people’s complaints of bad roads, lack of potable water, no electricity and the high cost of living in the land.

From above, you can see what bad leaders have caused all of us just because Nigerians with bad conscience voted them into office. You sow what you reap. Since most of us do not have good conscience as of today, it is not surprising we elected bad leaders into office. Hence, our present condition we find ourselves. Yet we are rich in God-given natural resources which other countries don’t have but are not developed.

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Now, since voting our bad conscience has not helped us to get good leaders what is the way out? Simply, it is time we vote only for competence. I repeat, only competent people should be voted for in the 2023 elections as state assembly mèn, house of representatives members, senators and president. No more, no less.

It is time we throw away sentiment in choosing our next set of leaders so that we can give Nigeria a new beginning. Indeed, in the future of the great country we want to build, should build we require only leaders that will deliver the dividends of democracy in full to us. They will rule in a way that Nigerians will be at peace with one another, although our tribes and tongues may differ. Everyone will be safe to live, work and do business in where ever one is located.

You will be treated as a Nigerian first, and not as a Fulani, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Kalabari, Isoko, Urhobo or Tiv person. We will consider ourselves as one and the same person without any discrimination.

Before the elections, there is the need to sensitise Nigerians. Therefore, there is need to abandon the idea of voting your conscience and embrace that of voting for competence. Certainly, it is through this action that voters will know which patriotic candidates to choose to enable us break away from our current state of leadership, poverty and become great and a true leader of the African continent.

No voter should sell his or her PVC. It is your peaceful weapon for choosing the right credible, competent leaders in the next elections. Be warned! No candidate should buy votes or use money to entice ÌNEC officials and security personnel in an attempt to rig the elections. It is a serious electoral offence to offer and receive bribe as well as sell your PVC. The law will catch up with you if you break it.

Time is not on our side because each day the elections draw nearer. So, I urge people to come out with programmes that will help voters understand the need to choose only competent leaders in the forthcoming elections. People in the entertainment sector should put up shows, comedies and release songs that will educate Nigerians on the importance of electing leaders that are competent in body; mind and spirit. All of us must join hands together to choose leaders who fear God, respect voters, obey the laws of the land and work very hard to develop Nigeria of our dream.