“Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.”
Irrespective of the order of elections in 2019 and never mind whether or not Buhari will re-contest (he certainly will), Nigeria is less than a year away from electing new officers to manage the affairs of the public at state and federal levels. INEC, meanwhile has made the monumental error of limiting campaigning to only about six weeks to the elections. This is unfortunate because we borrowed the constitution largely from the United States and we have bastardized the electoral process. The US body responsible for elections places no time limit on when a candidate can campaign for elections. Bill Clinton opened shop the day George Bush, Snr, was declared winner of the US elections. He campaigned for four years. There is absolutely no reason why an Igbo candidate for President in 2023 cannot start now.
But, I keep forgetting that we live in a country still described as under-developed and even our professors are under-developed. That said; permit me to point out to those embarking on the tough journey to become elected candidates in 2019. INEC, deliberately or inadvertently, has placed a major obstacle in the way of challengers which favours incumbents. For instance, even the worst performing state governor (take your choice) still has his state television and radio stations broadcasting all the lies that their transient employer wants them to do. Meanwhile, all challengers within or outside his own party are frozen out of those communication links to the people. He also has access to the state’s funds to use the national print media as well as social media to publicise his “achievements”. Not less than three states send unsolicited messages to me regularly singing the praises of their governors. Apparently, there are “giant strides” being made everywhere which the people just don’t see. One state owing six months salary is still depicted as one of the best governed. Even a national newspaper, for suspicious reasons voted the governor as their Personality of the Year!! Money talks all the time. Obviously, INEC’s ill-advised directives on campaigning is a disservice to the people because it takes months or even years of persistent opposition to bring the truth of mismanagement to the people in the state – particularly the rural areas.
Ordinarily, what INEC had decreed would have been cause to ask all contestants against incumbents to withdraw in protest against the inherent injustices involved. But, fortunately, INEC has not quite shut the door against challengers. Instead what INEC has unwittingly done is to provoke political guerrillas to wage political war against incumbents. Instead of being confronted frontally, as in conventional political contests, challengers are now requested to be creative in their approach to launching attacks on those citadels of power which INEC had erected. I was engaged in one of those efforts in 2011 in a Southern state regarded as so impregnable the former governor boasted he would be the only governor elected unopposed in 2011. He had a challenger and was forced to campaign and rig heavily to be re-elected. How did it happen?
We ignored INEC and started early, as early as 2009 in fact, focused in the beginning on the rural and sub-urban areas to disseminate lots of information which would not appear on the state’s television station or be heard on state radio. But, we did more. Permit me to stop there. The point is simple. Every challenger must develop a strategic plan because it is frequently a David versus Goliath combat. If David had been stupid to rush at Goliath, neither the Bible nor the Koran would have been written today – at least not in their present form.
Central to the strategic plan are the core planners – never more than six – who plan and two who decide. The candidate is always one of them – after all he will be the major beneficiary of victory. But, as much as possible everything must be subjected to strict timelines. Two or three people hired to perform during the period is indispensable. With so little time to waste, and relatively less financial resources compared to the incumbent, the challenger always needs people whose productivity is about one thousand to one compared with the usually complacent incumbent. Governor Ayo Fayose won in Ekiti in 2003 against the son of a “demi-god” Niyi Adebayo, by creating such a structure.
The group should develop two major strategic thrusts – one positive and the other negative. Positive thrust addresses what the challenger will do differently. Negative thrust lays out all the faults of the present government – especially one that everybody can see and don’t like. Even an unbeatable Governor Ambode has some. Let me again stop here and redirect the focus of readers.
With only eleven months to go, the 2019 apparently is one with the least number of declared candidates. I have covered seventeen states since the December 26, 2017 and there is no single state where there is any sign of activity regarding the 2019 elections. By contrast, the Governor’s election in Anambra State last year was a turbulent affair. On two trips to the state in search of schools receiving Federal Government’s free food, the place was already a beehive of political activity a year before the election. Are Igbos more politically advanced and conscious than the rest of us? Governance is serious business; perhaps the most important business for all of us. Poor and atrocious governance has got us to the point where school girls are abducted by terrorists and herdsmen have driven farmers from their farms. Fresh candidates must come out now.
What many people nursing political ambition don’t know is that the 2019 election is likely to be the first election in which the media will play a decisive role. If as they say, “War is too important to be left only to Generals”, then “Nigerian politics has become too important to be left only to the politicians”. We can all see what a mess they have made of our country. But, instead of trying to re-invent the wheel by starting a new movement, Nigerians can by selection of candidates they vote into office gradually change the face of politics. The obvious question is: who can help?
The surprising answer is: the media. More than ever, the media has become very powerful and can help change the system. It can also, to a great extent nullify the advantages of money and power which incumbents possess. A recent survey in Kaduna State revealed that less than a quarter of adults likely to vote will vote for Governor El-Rufai. Pressed further, they gave four reasons: heightened insecurity since he became governor, his obvious bias for Fulanis in a state boasting of all ethnic groups in Nigeria, his religious intolerance and the teachers’ palaver which is pervasively regarded as badly managed.
How on earth did people in Saminaka, Zonkwa, Panbeguwa, Birnin Gwari and Jaji get to know about El-Rufai and come to almost the same conclusion about him? It turned out that media, including social media, was responsible. It also demonstrated the fact that the power of the propaganda which governments have been able to deploy is becoming less effective. People increasingly are receiving information from other sources which are totally out of governments’ controls – particularly the sort of information governments want to conceal from the people.
To be quite candid, only age prevents me from jumping into the political fray this time and my promise to myself never to be a politician and a professional liar. Otherwise, this is the best time for new people to jump in. They will need help – obviously. But, they will get it if they ask. Contrary to what most people think, nobody desires a change in Nigerian polity more than the media – especially the national print media. We are also tired of writing about poverty, under-development, power failure, bad roads, devastated education and health sectors, etc etc. We also want to write about ten per cent annual growth of GDP which means Nigerians are getting richer and crimes will abate. We need new politicians. They need to start now. Forget INEC. I can teach you how to circumvent that mindless body and start campaigning.
BELIEVE ME; BUHARI IS WORKING
“Good people know Buhari is working.” Femi Adesina.
For once I believe Pastor Femi Adesina, Senior Presidential Adviser. Ordinary good people, mostly fools, know he is working. The brightest and the best know those he is working for. He works virtually all the time for Katsina state, Daura town, Daura family, Fulanis, herdsmen and he now pays ransom to Boko Haram. That is a lot of work.
He also works against the rest of us. Check out NHIS palaver and Mainagate. Now, the “defeated Boko Haram has struck again in Dapchi, Yobe State. He works extremely hard to sustain the falsehood which now characterizes his government. As the Yoruba would greet such a worker “E ku ise Sir.”