Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has set September 28, 2022, as the day for the kick-off of campaign for presidential and National Assembly elections, while governorship and state assembly is on October 12, 2022.
We are few days to electioneering, where everything will be different, or at least all efforts are made to make it appear so. This is the most crucial moment for politicians. It is during this period that the electorate are given a semblance of what should in the first place be the order of the day. This is the people’s period.
You may be confused about one thing or the other, especially where I said the dos and the do not of political campaign. Some people may not understand it. This is highly likely. But, of course, there are limits, and there is redline that shouldn’t be crossed. There are things that politicians shouldn’t do in the name of electioneering.
Now, that you have known that there are things politicians should not do in order to sell their candidature to the electorate, you will definitely like to know what those things are. Relax. In the course of this piece, I will try to treat it.
As Nigerians, we are full aware of what an average political campaign season looks like. It goes with many things that some of us might have thought it to be the norm everywhere. But it isn’t. Once again, what are they? Political thuggery, mudslinging, killings, hate speech, etc.
While electioneering isn’t a tea party it doesn’t have to be as venomous as it is in this part of the world. For us to reduce the toxic messages, it takes all of us: from our places of worship, markets, schools, offices, parks, halls, farms, etc. This is everyone’s business.
We must be involved. We have to work collectively to help our dear states and the nation as a whole. We can only build this country under this dispensation by encouraging democratic conventions and not unacceptable practices just to win or rather rig an election.
Rig an election? I think this horrible phenomenon continues to rear its ugly head because many of our institutions are weak, especially the critical ones that can put a stop to it. In many instances, they abet it, this has led to many terrible results over the years.
During electoral campaign, you will be increasingly sought-after to hatch out different plans. This is the time when there will be multitude recruitments. No, not in the civil service but in the thriving political industries, which need the strength and pep of youth to propel it.
It is sad to note that a large number of youth will be required not in the dignified and visionary side but at the abhorable, disdainable, and thuggish position, where their youthful energy will be wrongly channelled to the despicable social oddity of thuggery, which has led to the horrible end of countless number of youth over the years.
It is descernible that politics is much maligned, detested owing to the celebration of thuggery, cultism, immorality, etc, in many quarters all these have discouraged many Nigerians from joining politics or even exercising their franchise without necessarily being card carrying members of any party.
This has over the years aided in robbing Nigeria of some of its best brains in politics, a large swathe of its patriotic citizens, and a considerable number of Nigerians, who believe in this country. My compatriots, we must change the narrative. We have to stand up and fight against any negative energy that pervades the polity: for the sake of our country.
Am I advocating against joining politics? Definitely, no. But join politics as a descent, respectable, and patriotic participant no matter how little your position is. In this way, your wit and vigour will be put into effect. Draw a line once your only place is a thug or any role that diminishes you or any other person.
Value yourself and do only what is legal and aids your personal growth and collective development of the society. Do not allow yourself to be used as a willing tool to destroy your future for meal ticket. Be wise. You are as good as anyone else when you work hard.
The campaign season has been known to be a tense moment all over the world. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. However, in saner climes political campaigns are mostly anxious for the right reasons with each candidate coming up with competing ideas, plans, which form the fulcrum of their manifesto.
It is anticipated that heated discussion will be a common feature but in most instances the issues take centre stage. Therefore, there will be no need for recruiting an array of youth to be engaged in thuggery in order to win elections.
Over the years, we have seen how the tone of the candidates’ political campaigns have played a major role in the level of violence witnessed before or after elections. Therefore, it is important that we are deliberate in deciding our fate by categorically saying no to election violence whether as candidates or electorate.
Once we suffocate the polity from getting the stimulus of violence, from the youth that has literally kept it going, we are certain of sanitising our system. More people will be interested in politics, this means much more good and patriotic Nigerians will line up. It is a win-win situation for Nigeria. This will give us better opportunity to choose good leaders to build the Nigeria of our dreams.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani,
Turaki B, Jalingo,