Monday, 21 January 2019

THE 2019 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES: Its Salient but Silent Effect on The 2019 Polls & The Next 4 Years – Ademola Oni

The much anticipated 2019 Nigerian Presidential Debates are over but politicking never stops. The actions of the Presidential candidates of the two "super" parties have shown to us Nigerians where they place "us" as a people.
There is a reason I have quoted us and that is because I assume we the electorates are divided into two. One is the educated, comfortable, politically uninterested but uneasily bought, intellectually sound minority who do not see the need to vote and so do not have a voter card. The second is the uneducated, not comfortable, especially financially, also politically uninterested but easily bought with gift and money, intellectually deficient and money oriented majority who also do not see the need to vote but are paid to get a voter card to vote and are thus guided by stomach and not reasoning. The former are those who probably watched the debate or followed it. The latter are those who gathered at stadiums, cheering and hailing in the hope that paper will rain, they are the reason Buhari gave for being unable to attend the debate. They are those who probably can't afford a television set to watch the debates. And we can't blame them, at least we are not suppose to, rather we blame the government for not making life any better for them. So now you see why they won't come to you in a debate, because they just know you won't vote and they don't even need to convince you to, you are too comfortable to be convinced. Why then do you think they will invest heavily in education? An educated population is a threat to their perceived relevance and political existence. That's the reason they just know a debate is not a prerequisite to winning an election, it's an intellectual exercise for the few intellectuals in a country filled with more dummies. There is so much to say but over the next couple of minutes, I will be sharing a few of my thoughts on the debates, the forthcoming elections, possible outcomes, expected happenings and the state of the nation going forward. I am so sorry if you aren't interested in politics, but we can't continue to live in denial of its importance. So come with me.


* If you follow my political posts closely, you will remember I have been on this Presidential debate palaver since last year. I also pushed for how whoever does not attend the debate does not deserve to be voted for. (I still stand on it tho). Now it has finally come and gone, and for some, our worst fears on the debate has been confirmed; HE didn't show up. For others, their guess was very right,  HE won't show up. For many, other fears would be confirmed, like HE winning despite the outright disregard for the Nigerian people....well that's only the comfortable few, the hungry majority have been bought over with campaign money. 

* The barrage of excuses that have come forth from both parties for missing out on the debate has been rather doltish and half-witted; many have been void of reasoning and depth. But the deed is done, after all, debates do not matter in this part of the world.

* Some said the peace and unison that characterised the debates can almost be translated to what our country could look like without APC or PDP or those whose minds are polluted just as they did their parties...what do you think?

* There was so much intellectualism and ideas flowing in the hall that some guessed Buhari and Atiku would have suffocated for being bereft of either. Issues were put forward and tackled with possible plans and probable actions, with an amazing display of preparedness, character and poise; (I will say we need such qualities in our Preident sha), an approach they say neither Atiku nor Buhari could have attempted since there won't be any body shouting "sai baba" or "atikulated". They just thrive on noise and rascality, not the kind of atmosphere there was at the debates. 

* Something else was clearly evident at the debate and that was LEADERSHIP, we could see it displayed by the three candidates present. There was unity of intellectualism, ideas, plans and respect for the person of each candidate. These are traits neither APC nor PDP has displayed given past similar situations; or how do you explain Buhari's excuse of having gone to a rally instead of a program you have been for several weeks given prior notice of, where a whole nation was waiting to hear you speak. Or Atiku's ignorant remarks of refusing to debate because Buhari wasn't present for him to attack. That has again proved they have no service agenda, it's all about self.

* The barrage of excuses were appalling and undoubtedly senseless. But ultimately it shows the disregard for the Nigerian people and how they will like to always dictate to us rather than be accountable to us. How do we explain a situation where the Nigerian people call for a debate but Atiku had the audacity to not only choose to not participate but wants to impose another debate at his convenience and that of his siamese, Buhari?

* In more civilised climes, neither Atiku nor Buhari will be president owing to their behaviour in respect to the debates; in fact, it would have had a rippling effect on candidates of their party vying for various offices within the country. But unfortunately that may not be the case, I strongly doubt it would be. What baffles me the most is what their advisers are really doing but again, I am reminded that, "you can force a horse to the stream but you can't force it to drink" maybe it is that "birds of a feather flock together" or it's a combination of both. 

* The joy for me is that we have seen that a new Nigeria is a possibility; at least in words and on paper. However, whether or not it is doable is dependent on the voting population, but sadly a good number of them have been bought by captains of the old Nigeria. But not to worry, if we have done with this debate what hasn't been done before, it's only a matter of time, we will do with our voter cards what has never been done before.


* As observed from a number of indicators in the last 20 years, neither the APC nor PDP deserve a place at the presidency, however, it might be politics as usual, but not for too long.

* A possible game changer would be a coalition of the new breeds uniting against the old, because already, votes are divided along their lines. But a team up can pose a huge threat to to the big two. The vital question would be "how feasible is this, given the disparity in the voting population?" 

* Money will be a huge determinant for the big two because that's all that they can afford, you can't give what you don't have, a well developed idea or properly carved out plans isn't in the list of what they have. And sadly the money will go a long way but not all the way. In other words, we can't rule out the possibility of election rigging, only that this time, the best rigger would be the highest bidder, as shown in earlier conducted state elections last year.

* The result of the elections would be followed by court appeals and counter appeals.

* The 2019 election is going to bring about a paradigm shift and lay a foundation for a new Nigeria. This is because if anything at all, the possibility of another political party taking the fore, apart from the big two would be strongly established.

* Political priorities are going to be re-arranged. Some will be in bitter opposition while some will strongly consider realignment. The major determinant of either priorities will be political interest. Both priorities would be shaped along the interest of service or self.


* If either PDP or APC wins, the next 4years would be characterised by a time of survival without much optimism for a better Nigeria, particularly because it is believed that both parties are two sides of a coin and worst is the fact that even though the parties aren't convincing, their representatives do not have the capacity to earn and build trust in their individual ability to make a difference.

* There would be throwing of tantrums amidst insinuated efforts at fixing Nigeria.

* If APC or PDP wins, it is my believe that if truly the new political contenders mean well for the nation, they won't go to sleep. It will mean for them, another 4years of rigorous campaigns, structure formation and a possible merger among some of the already growing new political parties.

* If the new parties are able to pull some weight in the 2019 elections, they will need to develop, if not already in place, a selective mechanism that properly picks its members. This is essential because, if the participation is impressive at the polls, there would be a lot of cross carpeting in the years to come. In order that the wrong kinds of people who do not deserve to be party members, are not admitted, the selection of party members have to be well scrutinised, else we continue the recycling of ill fated people parading themselves as members.

* The big two won't be left out in party restructuring as they will denyingly accept that the game is changing and they have to measure up to the changes or risk being displaced.

* If either the APC or PDP wins, one area I foresee radical adjustment is in the appointment of more youths and females into various offices. This of course would be a strategy they will hold firmly to and use as campaign slogans in 2023. They can't come to terms with how gender is fast becoming a determinant and how hungry youths are to displace the old pack, so they will implore the carrot and stick method of youth and female appointments to hold on to power.

* If the unlikely happens and a fresh party & person assumes the office of the President of Nigeria, the next 4 years would be characterised as a period of hope, strong optimism as well as reinforced oppositions. This would be because there would be a lot of expectations as to what can be done especially the need for the new comer to deliver on campaign promises. There would be hope that a new sheriff in town would translate to a better Nigeria. The reinforced opposition I speak of, would be evident in the combined forces of the APC & PDP who then have been relegated to the place of observers as far as the Presidency is concerned. They would both become opposition parties, and I am sure you know what that means for the party and person in power.

* If the unlikely happens, with hopes and expectations at its peak, governance won't be an easy task for the man at the top. The reason would be that the oppositions will never let sleeping dogs lie and there would be deliberate attempts at frustrating governance with a particular agenda to prove that the new sherif had no business being in town in the first place. I also suspect a deliberate attempt at proving that youths are not ripe for power. If this successfully works, with hopes & expectations severely dashed within the 4 year tenure, there is a strong indication  that Nigerians may go back to their vomit with supporting statements like "the devil we know is better than the Angel we don't know", except something significantly distinctive happens, that can irrespective of the not too much success recorded by the new government, show to the Nigerian people why we can't afford to dine with the devil.

* Whatever the outcome of the 2019 election is, two things would be almost certain. One is that Nigerians will either have to live or have to survive through another 4years. The second is that, there would be increased political participation and awareness.


* I am not sure how much ground restructuring will hold but Nigeria will not break up.

* Nigeria cannot be Islamised.

* Citizens will be more alive to the impact of politics on their daily lives and would be more involved.

* Youth/female interest, involvement and participation in politics will be on a record high.

* No nation of the world that is succeeding today but snatched itself from the claws of colonialism, achieved such success without sweat,pain and suffering. Nigeria will go through that phase before any meaningful success can be recorded. However, the suffering will only translate to success if we have leaders who are deliberate about doing the right thing, anything other than that would mean that there is a deliberate ploy to make Nigerians suffer because a few elites are plundering the nations resources. So the next 4years will be characterised by some tough times which will either be our process of growth or the making of a selfish few or both.

* I can't say what it is but I foresee there would be a major shake in the polity of Nigeria within the next 4 years.


* For the youths, a lot is expected of them to prove that they can handle power and not misuse it. 

* Prepare adequately to be a political leader and not just a politician. We have too many politicians but not many political leaders.

* The hallmark of leadership is service. This doesn't translate to "belonging to everyone and belonging to no one". It means being docile; with the people and not yourself being at the core of everything.

* Power is not given, it is taken. But there is no need taking power if you won't use it any better.

* Beyond proving that you are not too young too rule is the task of showing that you are not unprepared to rule either.

* Stop living in denial of the importance of politics, after God, politics is life. Get involved some how.

* Nigeria will be great again, but our actions and inactions as individuals is what would translate to our collective greatness as a nation. In your own little way, do what is right for Nigeria. The Greatness of Nigeria begins with you and I. 

Disclaimer: The above article is not in support of any political party and also not agains any political party. It is an unbiased expression of thought and speculations based on known occurrences and justifiable inferences. You may not have to agree, that's why it's my an opinion and we all are entitled to one.

The writer is a political enthusiast who simply believes in the freedom of political expression. @oni.ademola 08136232721.

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