It’s election season and I have found this period particularly fascinating compared to previous times we have inched towards choosing our next set of leaders in a democratic process. There are a number of factors that make this point in time different. For the first time in a while, we will have frontline presidential candidates from Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups. Personalities who possess the stature and clout to win in their own right. Aside from this, the surge of interest from Nigerian youths who were hitherto apathetic or indifferent to politics evokes excitement and renewed hope.
One gets the impression that an encouraging number of young people have come to the realisation that they cannot afford to be agnostic or detached when it comes to determining who calls the shots in the affairs of the country they call home. Not even the pervading Japa Syndrome has quelled the desire to get things right at home considering that only a few can leave this space. The consequences of not getting it right during the last election continue to haunt and taunt us by way of terrifying insecurity and economic impoverishment.
It’s undeniable. The horrific attack on hapless church attendees in Owo, incessant kidnappings, wanton killings, and the perpetually upward trajectory in the prices of goods and services are sad reminders.
These days, a casual trip to the market is an extreme sport. It’s practically impossible to embark on that trip and leave without a frown. Foodstuff prices continue to skyrocket; funds are never enough and the concept of saving is fast becoming a ridiculous proposition. The noose is tightening around necks and even the most aloof Nigerian is beginning to realise just how precarious the situation is and how critical the choice of who leads the next administration is.
At this point, it’s almost sinful to not show some level of interest in the political scene. The implications of electing yet another charlatan into the apex position in the land are too dire to even consider; the knowledge is frightening. There’s no room for illogical optimism that believes that somehow, things will work themselves out. No, that’s not going to happen if we do not take active interest in the polity.
But more importantly, it places a burden on every Nigerian adult to do due diligence on each presidential candidate as a genuine personal effort in determining who deserves a shot at steering the ship of more than 200 million people. It’s a huge responsibility. One that folks like me who are currently jaded and haven’t made up their mind on who to support need to confront before February 2023.
While I find the debates for and against the candidates interesting, and in some cases, enlightening, I am reminded that many middle-aged and young people are still caught up in politics characterised by greed, bitterness and selfishness. Tunnel vision analyses are rife when we should be hyperopic in our quest to ensure the right person occupies aso rock in the next couple of months.
A Nigeria that we are proud to bequeath to our children should be the goal and not the fleeting pecuniary gains of a few people.
Nevertheless, it is refreshing to see young Nigerians show interest and even offer to volunteer to participate in an electoral process that can be overwhelming and fraught with challenges.
On my part, I have decided to enjoy the road to 2023. I have made peace with the reality that there is a cacophony of voices angling to be heard as we inch closer to next year. Rather than endure or ignore them, I am hoping to build on my knowledge of politics and electioneering through them.