(By Arnold Alalibo)-
I offer my congratulations to all the political parties that orchestrated presidential primaries and successfully produced candidates for the 2019 general election. It is a remarkable feat to organise a rancour-free presidential primary election in Nigeria. However, this is not an impression that nothing at all went wrong with the conduct of the primaries.
About 30 out of the 91 political parties have already advanced names of their candidates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), indicating a full preparation of the parties for the campaigns beginning next month.
The two major political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), are fielding candidates. While the APC retains President Muhammadu Buhari, the PDP presents former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Both men are behemoths.
Besides the APC and the PDP, other smaller political parties are equally presenting candidates to vie for the presidential election. They are: Mr. Fela Durotoye, Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN); Mr. Omoyele Sowore, African Action Congress (AAC); Mr. Tope Fasua, Abundance Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP); Chief Olusegun Mimiko, Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
Other important names which clinched their party tickets include: Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressive Party (YPP); Mr. Donald Duke, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), among many others.
This is a strange conglomeration of old and new politicians that has united into a “brigade”. Indeed, it is diametrically opposed to what was accomplished in the past. Today, there are activists, intellectuals and technocrats that have joined the presidential race which was an exclusive preserve of core or seasoned politicians.
The relatively-newer political parties are making bold statements by cautiously electing brilliant persons and unimpaired professionals with international exposure. The implication is that the nation may witness excellent debates, discourses and, of course, campaigns as never before.
The presidential candidates of these comparatively-novel political parties are expected to live up to expectation and compel the older parties to focus on issue-based and not personality-based campaigns and debates which promote hate speech.
Character assassinations of opponents, mudslinging, barefaced lies, and fake promises shouldn’t singularise our campaigns any longer. But in vocalizing issues, it is expedient that Nigerians are eager to comprehend the matters that will predispose the campaigns and possibly influence voters’ choices.
In the 2015 general election, for example, the mantra was the slogan of “change”. The electorate was swayed to cast their votes for “change” because the jingle, more than any other, captured the aspirations of the wretched Nigerian masses, who desperately treasured better days. Nearly four years down the line, there are disparate opinions on what should inveigle Nigerian voters in the next general election.
That is the reason anyone who craves to be elected or re-elected in the forthcoming election must validate their ambition with visible facts and achievements. While the incumbent president will be required to evince his desire to be re-elected, those who seek to take over from him must prove that they are better candidates. In other words, the evidence must demonstrate their claims.
Given the exhibition of presidential candidates, some Nigerians are raising a speculative eyebrow about the very high quality of the nominees on display. The truth is our people have now agnised the need for the best of our human capital to clinch the commanding heights of governance. This challenge should fire up all contestants.
It is appropriate at this time for Nigerians to clench the generous offers 2019 makes to part with the full complement of mis-governance. One of such bids remains the obvious need to obviate those who may seek to delude the people again with false claims and hollow promises, and unmask others who are faithless to their campaign pledges.