Nigeria goes to the poles tomorrow – 28th March, 2015 in what will turn out to be a significant and historic day for the country. If analysts are correct, a record 70 million people will take to the poles in a referendum on the performance of the incumbent president. The question placed to every Nigerian is simple – Do you like the current state of affairs? If you do then vote Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) and if you do not then vote General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB). Simples! Well, you would think so.
Judging from the campaigns on television, social media and newspapers it can be difficult for a less politically inclined person to make a balanced assessment of who to vote for. Going by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chatter, you are led to believe that under GMB’s stewardship, this nation would be taken back to the doldrums of military dictatorship. They point to the lack of investments in the country during his tenure, his advanced age, health concerns and its similarities with late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. And when you listen to the All Progressive Congress (APC) chatter, it points to the current failures surrounding us, such as, the lack of decisive action taken by GEJ’s administration on the Boko Haram insurgency, the current state of affairs as regards the economy (e.g. high unemployment, fuel scarcity, etc.), the level of corruption to insurmountable levels (i.e. claims of $48 billion to $1.48 billion unremitted funds), the lost reports of the forgotten committees and so on… just to name a few.
But before you get swayed by what you hear or watch, or cast your vote on the basis of bribes and greed, as currently demonstrated by the shameless commissioners in Rivers State, I ask you readers to assess the political parties and the ideologies that each candidate stands for and ask? What does PDP stand for? What does APC stand for? Have a look at the respective manifestos of these parties and draw your conclusion. Does this party stand for an ideology that will foster growth and recovery in all aspects of this nation? When you think critically about these questions the truth will begin to unravel.
Firstly let’s take a look at the slogans of the parties. PDP Power! This is the slogan of the PDP party. One may ask – Power for what? Power for all? Power to rule? What I do know is that Power corrupts. Another slogan from the party is ‘Keep moving Forwards’. Ask yourself – ‘Are we really moving ‘forwards’ as a nation. If we continue on this path, what belies our children and their children? It is undeniable that this nation has moved ‘forwards’ from the military era, however, given the resources available can we honestly say that is still the case? As for APC all I hear is Change. Change for what? Change from the status quo? Change for the better? The truth is that Nigerian’s are frustrated with the present predicament and so will jump into bed with the nearest party that preaches Change. However, this speaks volumes about the incumbent government. Perhaps if the incumbent government had done more to tackle insecurity, poverty and corruption over the years then such ‘Change’ will not be clamoured upon? With all that said, can the claims of ‘Change’ be trusted? Is the APC camp just taking advantage of the situation and telling people what they want to hear just to get the reins of power only to fall victim of its corruptibility?
Secondly, I believe that political parties should have ideologies that their candidates embody and not the other way around as is often the case in Nigeria. But for the sake of discourse, let’s assume that the reverse was the case and hence the electorates should base their votes on the personalities of the candidates; when you see the Jonathan Goodluck that takes the stands today, do you see the same person that most Nigerians identified with in 2011? Do you see General Buhari’s persistence, four tenures and counting, as a demonstration of a man who is willing to right the wrongs in this nation or do you see it as mere folly? Who has the personality that can drive this nation ‘forwards’? A character that listens to everyone’s contribution and does little to nothing or a character that, in the past, listened to just a few but acted decisively? Which leadership quality is the right one for our nation today?
If you are still at crossroads when it comes to making your decision on who to vote for, the decision may come down to a matter of gut feel. While this may not be a tried and true method of picking political candidates, your options at this point might be fairly limited. One option might be to take a look at the states that are controlled by a given political party and use this as an extrapolation. (See picture of controlling parties by state below; picture taken from the BBC website). While one might pick up on a few correlations between party and government performance in certain states, there are inconsistencies in the results of this analysis. Nonetheless, in certain cases, the results are fairly suggestive. For instance, were I to make my decision based on the current position of the two states I have spent extensive periods in – Lagos State and Delta State – I know where my presidential vote would swing. The point here is, we are down to the wire and now is the time to make a choice so choose we will.
So my fellow Nigerians, as we take to the polls tomorrow, vote without fear and without undue bias, but think critically and holistically as you join hands with other Nigerians to cast a telling vote that could either move us ‘forwards’ or ‘change’ the status quo.
God bless Nigeria!