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Political Campaign: Beyond The Bondage of Mere Rhetorics


by Rasheed Kabeer

In this day and age, the political atmosphere of Nigeria is entirely surrounded with baggage of emotional political speeches spanning from the pulpits of political campaign all across the country. From the inception of this campaign season, barely a few weeks ago, I have been keenly watching and rewatching the campaign activities of some giant politicians in the country in order to keep myself entertained. I have a deep thought in my mind over what they posts on social media, notably their Facebook pages, twitter handles, what they openly declared verbally at various campaign gatherings and what is being fully covered by the national television networks across the country. However, listening to some of their garbages, most at times, reminds me of the normal attitude of Nigerian politicians in the season of every political campaign in the country. 

Normally, one would expect that a season of political campaign like the one we are presently into will open a new page of political history in the country when it comes to communicating new ideas which will help in crafting strategies and formulating proposed worklist of plans and actions to be executed by politicians after they eventually win the election, but very sorrowfully, most campaign gatherings usually end-up with series of incoherent speeches that are unintelligible and meaningless, using overly technical language.

A clearly defined example of the aforementioned scenario, hugely depicts itself in some major political events that ensued recently in the country. One of which is the Nigeria's main opposition party's national campaign that transpired in sokoto, which recorded the presence of a mammoth political bigwigs of the party from the nooks and crannies of the country, who gathered in solidarity to firmly support the cause of their presidential candidate, Mr. Atiku Abubakar. However, there is no doubt that the party's campaign apparently displayed material support which emanated from the bond of unity among the party's stalwarts. But the campaign lacks a unifying oulook that should guide the party's public approach to declaration of its principles, policies, and actions embedded in its manifesto.

If Mr. Atiku, in his campaign speeches, is still bragging on deregulating some government agencies, especially the NNPC, or stressing the vaguely outlined point of having larger number of cows than Mr. Buhari only to show himself as being more saner than Buhari in his public conduct, then the road linking to villa is still very far away from the opposition party. In developed societies, elections are not won on the basis of one's number of cow, or an act of bragging to sell some agencies of government. Election is won on the basis of what a candidate sharply outline to do in his manifesto, which is mostly accompanied by openness and transparency at the expense of one's competent ability to deal with critical national issues at stake.

When Mr. Barack Obama, the former president of the United States of America, was conducting his presidential campaign in his first bid to be the president of the US, the goal of his campaign was in twofold: the first one was based on a narrower tactical sense, that is, the ''scientific outlook on development''. And the other was structured on a broader sense, which is, ''people-centred development''. Meanwhile, Mr. Obama's primary goal was, first and foremost, to establish a people's society. More advance learners, however, will know that for a government to truly represent the will of the people, it needs to use the word ''people'' anywhere and everywhere.

At this juncture, it is fair to say that Nigeria is a society different from the western societies. Even with this, however, the intriguing question at stake is: on what basis should people vote for the presidential flag-bearer of any political party in the country's forth coming election?. Nigeria has been at a crossroad since the inception of democracy in the country, therefore, a mere comparison of one's number of cows outnumbering the cows of another is not a key point in election campaign. In fact, it is a statement that lacks outstanding excellence in its entirety. Nigerians need a competent, proactive and transparent president, who is dogged in dealing with burning national issues at stake in the polity.

It is pertinent that the opposition party defined its laid down procedures about the ongoing fight against corruption in the country. In lieu of this, therefore, the party needs to show Nigerians its comprehensive plans to be employed in fighting corruption using unique tactics, which should be necessarily different from the ruling party's approach, which the party severely criticized 

However, the ruling party must grow beyond the preeminent expectation of Nigerians in its campaign across the country. Though, the notable question of Mr. Buhari's decent integrity on the ongoing fight against corruption may occupy a large front in the party's presidential campaign, the party must, however, put forward some fresh perspectives and clear strategies on how to fulfill some of its promises left halfway fulfilled. There are vacuum of promises made by the ruling party before the 2015 general elections, some of them were fulfilled halfway.

At the present time, there is a recent shift in Nigerians' perception of politics. Being incorruptible alone is not impressing Nigerians, except this attitude cohabits with elusive capacity to squarely fight the ugly monster timely. Again, beyond the simple campaign slogan of ''next level'', the ruling party must get out of the wood to rationally establish concrate ways on how it can transform the country to the next level.

When the party was campaigning in 2015, it clearly based its campaign slogan on simply the word ''change''. However, it broadly presented additionally more distinctive phrases which obviously structured its underlying campaign manifesto at that material time. Fighting corruption, diversification of economy, improving the security situation among other things were the key issues that underlined the overall party's manifesto.

The era of using meaningless language to merely persuade the overwhelming majority of Nigerian masses at the polls is virtually over, especially given the established fact that they are now civilized enough to dichotomize an issue-based campaign and some mere rhetorics designed to persuade their public perception on realities.


Rasheed Kabeer is a public affairs analyst, an activist and advocate for transparency in governance. He writes from Zaria, Kaduna State