Elevating Political Campaigns In Nigeria

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As Nigeria marches steadily to the year 2019, which would certainly be another political milestone in the country’s chequered democratic experiment, political activities have revved up among political parties in the country.
Every political party, group and movement have raised their voices a notch in a bid to convince, confuse or sway the citizenry, who would play pivotal role in the 2019 general elections.
Really, political activities, particularly overt and covert campaigns, and other strategies are open to parties and candidates, in an ideal democratic setting to sell themselves and attract political patronage.
Sadly, however, shortly after the emergence of former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Nigerian media have been awash with veiled and open political tirades, diatribes and rhetorics involving political gladiators. In fact, some have gone beyond decorum to make unsubstantiated claims on individual personalities.
Regrettably also, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the PDP have been in a crossfire throwing missiles. A deluge of accusations and counter-accusations have overwhelmed the political space and public sphere. The APC, obviously jolted by Atiku’s emergence, resorted to name-calling and has described his emergence as PDP standard bearer as a non-issue, incapable of causing it sleepless nights.
The PDP on its part fired back at the APC, noting that the ruling party was already jittery due to Atiku’s high profile and antecedents. Since then, the loyalists of the two parties, including commissioned and non-commissioned spokespersons have taken a cue to fire brickbats at political opponents without let.
Rather than parties and their followers basing their campaigns on issues bordering on the corporate existence of the country, welfare and survival of the citizenry, they resort to politics of bitterness, mudslinging and inanities.
That is why we are worried over the emerging trend and its implication for Nigeria and 2019. We expect the political class, parties and flagbearers to rather woo the electorate with the ideology, policies and programmes of their parties than assaulting their sensibilities with rhetorics that would hardly move the country forward nor rescue the masses from their present state of despair.
Nigeria at this point in time needs parties and leaders that would offer her hope with a realistic clue on how to save her from the near-economic stagnation, insecurity, unemployment, high crime rate, restiveness and other natural challenges choking life out of the country.
The citizens are so impoverished and lost that they are looking for a kind of messiah who will bring them succour. The average Nigerian can hardly afford a decent meal per day and the pathetic situation is criminalising some people as they strive to survive.
This, surprisingly, hardly counts in the rhetorics of the politicians as they angle for advantage and positions come 2019.
But as we approach the electioneering period, we expect parties and contestants to show Nigerians how they would better their lot and make the country a better place for all. It is expected that after about 20 years of unbroken democratic practice, the country should have graduated to a level of playing politics in accordance with acceptable best practices, and not a situation where politicians indulge in name-calling, blackmail and use of state apparatus to haunt the opposition.
Politicians ought to have a clear template on how they can salvage the economy, education, health, security, infrastructural decay and the plethora of challenges facing the country. It will amount to political suicide if after two decades of uninterrupted democracy, Nigerian politicians cannot address issues that are germane to the survival and sustenance of the corporate existence of the country.
We urge the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the media to live up to their responsibilities in ensuring that political parties and politicians do not cross the line even as they go for the jugular in the quest to destroy one another. INEC as an unbiased umpire must ensure that same rule applies to all, no matter the position they occupy.
The media, on their part, must be more pro-active in reporting political activities; they should strive to set agenda for the polity and call derailing political actors to order. While we also urge the media to always promote national rather than parochial or sectional interest, the electorate should equally be more critical and queue behind only those politicians and parties with the right policies and programmes to better their lot.
It is time to call to order unproductive politicians who play the ostrich and resort to religious and ethnic sentiments in a bid to continue to lead the people by the nose.