Election season in Nigeria is here again! To be honest, it’s a little hard to believe that President Buhari’s 4-year administration will soon elapse because I remember vividly the day he was elected. There was so much hope and expectations but today all that seems to have disappeared and have been replaced with gloom and hopelessness. But 2019 provides us with an opportunity to calibrate and hopefully choose a candidate that is more likely to fulfil our collective aspirations. To this end, I did some reflection on some steps we can all take to ensure that we make rational, well -informed decisions in 2019.
- Define what the key issues are
I think that the key to making a decision on the appropriate candidate is to define what issue(s) matter the most to you as a citizen, family or constituency, that way it is easy to identify which candidate(s) is best equipped to deliver these things. If you follow American elections closely, you will see that Americans are always keen to know the candidates view on taxes, government deficit, healthcare etc. For me the number one thing on my agenda is ‘jobs, Nigeria’s demographic trajectory scares me as it is projected to exceed 300 million by 2050 and surpass the United States as the world’s third most populous country!!
Therefore, whoever is running for President in 2019 must compulsorily have an action plan on job creation with clear deliverables and timelines. The candidate must have clearly articulated plans on how he/she intends to create jobs, spur innovation and entrepreneurialism. They must analyse the implication of such a plan per sector, per geography, per gender and per demography as well as the naira implications and financing mechanisms. No more platitudes like ‘I will create 1 million jobs’, etc. campaign promises must be evidence driven while remaining ambitious and attainable.
What issues matter to you the most? what do you expect the next Nigerian President to deliver?
2. Get your facts, arm yourself with information
This is not a religious blog but the gravity of this issue, calls for some scripture, the holy Book says ‘my people perish for lack of wisdom’ and there is no lie in that. Look during election, the media is going to bombard you with a lot of lies, half-truths, propaganda and a whole bunch of misleading information. The only thing that would save you is the extent to which you have equipped yourself with the right information, the onus therefore rests on you as the voter to ensure that you equip yourself with accurate information.
Read the news by yourself, follow credible news sites i.e nairametrics, proshare etc. Look at socio-economic data from the National Bureau of Statistics. There are also reports that you can read that will enable you understand the true state of Nigeria’s social and economic development relative to other countries i.e. Failed States Index, Mo Ibrahim Governance Index, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings, WEF Global Competitiveness Index etc. The goal is for you to know sufficiently enough such that you are less vulnerable to ‘fake news‘.
What are you reading? Where do you get news from? Do you have the right information?
3. Beware of so-called ‘Experts’ and
The reason for point 1 or 2 is so that you can make an informed decision on the candidate(s) you choose to support. There will be so many people on social media who have been paid to deliberately mislead people, generate their own facts, whitewash a candidate’s legacy, spread lies and produce propaganda including the ones who claim to be ‘objective’. Anything that you hear or read, its best to take it with a pinch of salt.
This does not mean that you should not seek expert views, I am sure that there are a few people within your circle whose credibility you can vouch for, you can listen to those ones but the critical point is that you should be able to form an independent opinion of who deserves your vote.
Just be wary of social media ‘Analysts’, ‘Cashtivists’ and ‘Experts’.
4.Get your Permanent Voters Card (PVC)
All these efforts will come to naught if you do not have a PVC, without which you can’t vote. So go and get your Permanent Voters Card (PVC) and also familiarise yourself with the election timetable especially if you reside in the diaspora and plan to return to Nigeria for the elections. The date for the National Assembly and Presidential elections is February 16, 2019, while governorship and State House of Assembly elections, will hold on March 2, 2019.
5. Focus on the big picture
Contrary to popular opinion, these politicians are actually smart, they know how to distract us from the big issues. They sow seeds of divisions that ensure that our thoughts are clouded by religion or ethnicity or both- please do not fall!! Always remember that the fight remains between us and them; between the ‘haves’ and the ‘haves-not’; between the ‘rich and poor’. Remember that at the end of the day – APC, PDP, APGA etc. all belong to one class – the political class, that wine and dine together and have ruined this country for ages!! Therefore do not ruin your friendships, relationships or reputations for their sake. Don’t get dragged into petty online fights, tirades etc. focus on the big issues!! As much as possible, try to remain objective else you would help them in achieving their ultimate goal which is to divide and conquer!!
FOCUS guys, focus!!
One of the beauties of Democracy is that it provides citizens with the opportunities to make choices – you are not stuck to a regime or administration as in an Autocracy. But the extent to which a democracy can be effective is highly contingent on the level of citizen participation – that is in elections, civil society etc.
I live and work in Nigeria and I think that the stakes have never been higher – a very fragile economy; massive demographic boom; fragile internal security; mass emigration in critical sectors i.e the medical sector and general despondency. Now if you put all of these within a rapidly changing global economy where new technologies and new economic sectors are developing literally everyday; you realise that Nigeria has no time to waste, we have to develop fast!!
Make no mistake about it every vote counts, your cute/viral posts on Facebook and Twitter are not equivalent to a vote, they do not count – only a literal vote at the polling station does. So equip yourself, get your PVC and be prepared to cast your vote!!