In a country where millions are internally displaced, thousands have been massacred, megawatts provision is nowhere near enough and economic indices make grim reading, it is befuddling and downright disappointing that the most dominant issue has been a certificate.
The 2015 elections have two clear front-runners from the two dominant parties- PDP and APC- and in truth, neither party has done an elaborate enough job of clearly outlining how current pressing problems will be addressed if elected or in the case of PDP, re-elected. Rather, both campaign trains have moved from state to state amid much fanfare (mostly internally orchestrated) trying to outdo each other not based on the strength of proffered solutions, innovative ideas or proposals but based on the crowd pulled or ‘rented’.
While the main issues have been sidestepped, mentioned fleetingly or simply ignored totally, the campaigns have been dominated by petty ads and dangerous religious rhetoric from the ruling party while the main opposition has spent a majority of their time debunking as many claims that the ruling party has thrown their way.
The electorate deserve, at the very least, to make decisions based on clear plans outlined by the candidates but will have to, at this rate, have to make decisions based on a combination of other factors that should matter but not matter the most. There have been manifestos and there have been speeches but the general feeling is that the larger issues have been neglected and pettiness has reigned supreme. One of the positive notes from the campaigns though is how extensive and aggressive they have been. It could be suggested that both parties are not taking voters for granted and are trying their best to reach as many of the electorate as they can. Regarding the voters as very important and apparently going to great lengths to win their votes suggests that the electoral process in Nigeria’s 16 year old democracy has become increasingly credible. Perhaps, that is an offshoot of democracy; the longer it lasts, the stronger its principal processes become.
Regardless, it is one thing to take voters seriously and another to talk to them seriously. Too many skeletal promises have been made, too many petty jabs, such as a man’s ability -or inability- to remember a phone number, have been thrown and critically, there has not been enough discussion of Nigeria’s most urgent issues. Yes, hard-hitting, and sometimes overtly prejudiced comments, feature in campaigns of some of the world’s oldest democracies, still the major debates and discussions tend to be more focused on prevalent issues that will need to be addressed and intense scrutiny is applied to various proffered solutions with the electorate making informed decisions based on the information available.
Ordinarily, primary issues like worsening state of security and the wobbling albeit newly ‘rebased’ economy should be the dominant points of debate in this campaign. One wonders if there is enough time between now and when the elections are held for this to happen or if, like four years ago, Nigerians will be left to cast votes based on religion, tribe and tales of shoes- a lack thereof.