ANOTHER election year is beckoning. It’s about that time exchange of batons of leadership would be decided through the active participation of the populace at various polling units. An election season presents personalities of divergent leanings offering themselves for supposed service to the citizenry to ameliorate the excruciating and deafening anguish endured by the people masquerade as dividends of Democracy.
The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary postulates that election is “a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position”, while Lee Kuan Yew, the architect of modern Singapore, states that “we have to get our best into government for us to have a better society”. This suggests that for any tangible development and progression of any given society, a choice has to be determined and the most analytical persona adorned with the paraphernalia of governance to deliver and liberate the people from insecurity, under-employment, unemployment, non-payment of salaries and pensions, poverty and aborted signature projects to signpost the administration as concerned with the plight of the masses.
But is our experience akin to the stipulated norms of choice and submission of the able to at least meet the yearnings of the masses and lift them out of the comatose situation they have surrendered to as the ideal? A situation where all manner of shenanigans are deployed and orchestrated to cajole the people into skewing their thought pattern that the candidates brought forth would deliver and liberate them from the shackles of endemic and deliberate mental and material poverty leaves much to be desired.
The 2023 elections would be a defining moment not only for Nigeria but Benue State in particular because the common and popular off-the-head slogan at campaigns is for the voters to surrender their franchise in a uniform pattern and not attempt at infusing another candidate from a different or opposing political ideology/party into the zombie unilateral equation of voting a single party from the President, members of the Red and Green Chambers, the state dictators and then cascade down to the third tier without injecting a supposed intruder or dissident.
The blind and pedestrian formula of not taking a cursory analysis of the candidates based on their antecedents, ability, strength of moral character and within the context of objective reasoning to anchor the art of governance to the common well-being of all has robbed us of required development. Patronage politics, a twin of emotional and sentimental consideration, would also do us no good but fracture and puncture any perceived development at this material time in our chequered and almost obliterated democracy because the voice of reason to ventilate our concerns have been gagged and our tongue glued to the palate as such citizens need to recalibrate their physic to demand for the basics that makes life worth living.
From our experience since the nativity of democracy, we can see that voting for a particular party from top to bottom and patronage politics that has been our bane has only succeeded in impoverishing us and emasculating our thought pattern and left us in a precarious situation that we no longer are able to muster the strength and courage to hold our despotic leaders accountable for the misfortune and malfeasance that has characterized our collective existence, subjecting us to be deluded that we are misfits to enjoy the niceties that add meaning to human sojourn on mother earth like light, water, healthcare, education, employment, security and a living wage plus pension after the compulsory service of thirty-five years or sixty years of age in the darkroom of government employment.
As the clock ticks and years reduced to months, months to weeks, weeks to days and days to hours, are we desirous of a better and sane society? The third force should be an option to explore and uncage ourselves from the epistles laced with half-truth that cannot be erased like the leopard’s spots.
Going forward any candidate that emerges or presents himself for a position of responsibility should be interrogated and investigated coupled with mental analysis to elicit a commitment to deliver on the promises reeled out on the soap box during campaigns. If only we had woken from our slumber and amnesia, the different tiers of government would have been alive to their constitutional mandate and not take us for a Halloween expedition doing the bidding of the number one citizen alone. All the loans, Paris Club refund, bailout and budget-support would have been judiciously accounted for and explanations would have been sought as to how these monies have been expended. This would not happen because the Czar has the bait and enforces compliance not to be robed with the toga of executing and hatching a grandiose anti-party parley.
The way forward, not only for the forthcoming elections, is for the electorate not to pander to religious affinity, geographic placement and juicy appointment but interrogate the intended political seeker as to his sincerity of purpose, antecedent, capability, commitment to alleviate the sordid and despicable condition of the citizens with cogent and achievable realistic targets and not offer a thousand and one excuses while in office as to why challenges have defied all reasonably perceived solutions.
By the time we adopt this mode of electing our leaders and offering them a platform to debate their well-conceived blueprint, engagements during plenary on the various floors of the Red, Green Chambers and Assemblies would be robust, incisive and people-oriented and -centred. Issues of independence of the local government, judiciary and legislature plus relevant sections of the constitution amended while sundry matters like fuel subsidy, galloping inflation, non-payment of salaries and pensions, realistic take-home for all workers resolved or seemingly rested, resulting to exponential growth and development of all sectors of the economy.
For us to cross the Rubicon and be in charge of the rudder to lead us to the Canaan of our dreams, we have to offload the baggage of unilateral voting to checkmate the plethora of challenges confronting us as a people and driving us to our early graves and not succumb to the unholy sermons of casting our votes for candidates of a particular party to the exclusion of a perceived credible and competent candidate on the other divide on the altar of crass ignorance.
This is the only potent weapon we can deploy not to be preys of the conspiracy of silence orchestrated by the loquacious political class to perpetually keep us in the doldrums of under-development and deprive us of cerebral beings endowed with the intellect, capacity, bravery and puritan ideals to serve us a la carte.
Tiav writes from Makurdi, Benue State capital, North-Central Nigeria.