How time flies. Who could have imagined that within a twinkle of an eye, this administration will have a few days to return to the people? This life, so fast, yet so far! Was it not yesterday that Muhammadu Buhari stood for election? And that brought so much tension and bad blood. That time, his main challenger today, Atiku Abubakar was with him. Today Atiku and many other former comrades are in the opposition. This means within these two election cycles, Atiku and friends have remained opposition leaders. For when they won four years ago, as the government pushed on, they didn’t find accommodation within it and opted to do it themselves. For me, no pain, no gain. Every man (and woman) must have ambitions and pursue it with vigor. As we count down to Saturday presidential and National Assembly elections, how has the campaigns gone, and what do we expect going forward?
To be honest, this year’s campaign cycle has been very low-key. In fact, some may say drab. The campaigns started late. It was as if the politicians were taken aback when the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC released the timeline of events for 2019 election. To be fair to the electoral body, they released their timetable quite on time. We knew there was going to be election this Saturday nearly three years ago. Yet, our politicians, very well schooled in fire brigade or if you like, subterfuge clamped their hands and waited till the last minute. A perfect example of this needless wait is what has happened to candidates of the ruling party in Rivers and Zamfara states. While I do not agree with the verdicts from court processes in Rivers (because I think the courts should allow parties have candidates first before deciding who is authentic), yet the party appeared irresponsible in the way it handled its affairs.
In Zamfara it is even worse. Politicians in that very poor state could not find a common ground to ensure they held a primary. They used all manner of subterfuge and violence to compromise the process and fell deaf to the tolling bell. Time was against them but they cared not. PDP has its fair share in incongruity in its affairs leading up to choosing its candidates. They still have issues till date in some states. And for me, they didn’t and haven’t shown they are in the opposition as such expected to do better even for optics sake. The issues surrounding these primaries dovetailed into the campaigns somehow. How do you campaign when you don’t know if the courts will remove you as candidate tomorrow? Even if you do, it will be half hearted. You certainly cannot win elections with half-hearted commitment; especially now that our electorate is changing. They are more informed and are more able to say what they want using different channels of communication- mostly, the social media.
Another mute point is the new parties. They came under the glory of not too young to run. Eventually they have ended up not igniting any movement or ideology. That is the point, you need to understand the system you want to torpedo.
Largely, the leading lights of the movement, scattered in tiny parties haven’t made any ideological dent on our political firmament. They could not craft any enduring message. They could not capture the moment; neither could they gather any momentum. I did not expect much from them, so I do not feel any disappointment. Their struggle is just part of the larger picture of political evolution in Nigeria; in truth they have made no impact. They also haven’t used the media effectively. Some of them use the social media, but their vast social media community hasn’t transformed into a momentum of any kind. Not Omoyele Sowere, not Oby Ezekwesili and certainly not Kingsley Moghalu. I listened to all the above, they do not have real solutions for our problems. They say outlandish things that are not practicable anywhere. This means they don’t understand how the system works. It’s unfortunate.
Nigerians know that the election is between APC and PDP. I found their campaigns laborious, unimaginative and uninspiring. The APC did a far better job campaigning in 2015. PDP hasn’t done better either. To be frank, I’m more disappointed with PDP campaign because truth is told, they are the opposition. The opposition dictates the pace of every campaign; because their role is to put the governing party on the defensive, putting their record under scrutiny- much like a referendum on their performance. Here is an incumbent who some commentators have clearly outlined his failures, but PDP has not, did not take advantage and craft a sellable message. In 2015 “change” resonated around the county. In 2019, I will be glad to learn what the summation of our issues is. So for me, they let APC get away. The right questions were not asked, therefore no answers have been provided. On the other hand, APC hasn’t provided answers to some of our issues. They appear to be happy that those questions did not come and therefore decided to avoid giving answers to questions that have not been posed. Instead, they stay on their comfort zone-showing off 20th century trains, roads and data-based energy improvements. There are political and social issues that deserve conversation, PDP didn’t raise them, APC cleverly avoided them.
As we vote on Saturday, the major issues will revolve around primordial sentiments and party loyalty. Then personality of candidates will probably come third. Real economic, social and political issues are likely not going to determine who wins this election. The character of this campaign made it so.