The Agony In The 2023 Electoral Choice In Nigeria


By Clement T. Ofuani

Reverend Raphael Warnock, Senator and Senatorial Candidate for the State of Georgia, USA put out a tweet in the run up to the US 2022 mid-term elections that immediately arrested my attention as being apt for Nigeria as we ponder our way towards the 2023 elections.

The tweet says “A vote is a prayer about the kind of world we want to live in. And our prayers are stronger when we pray together…”

In my conversations with astute and practicing politicians in our land, I have been bemused by the political permutations going on. Perhaps for the first time in our democratic experience the road of travel has never appeared so uncertain especially as regards the Presidential election. It had always been a straight forward business of predicting outcomes based on a combination of tribal and religious loyalties to the flag bearers and deep pockets.

Whoever appeared to possess a winning combination could count on the theory of rational expectation to deliver him. This was simply because, once politicians perceive a particular candidate to possess the winning combination, they immediately gravitated towards that person and that rational step would make the victory a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Conversely, of course, the person perceived not to possess the winning combination will also lose because of the same theory of rational expectation playing out. After the electoral contests and governments are formed, the nation is thrown into turmoil by the incompetence, lack of capacity and character of the elected leaders resulting in regrettable outcomes. And we repeat the same process in the next electoral cycle ad nauseam.

As I reflect on the tweet by Reverend Warnock, I wonder whether Nigerians have no understanding that the vote is truly our prayer about the world we want to live in. The collective power of our votes empowers the people that can either perpetuate our miseries or lead us towards a glorious dawn. Why do we then make the same mistakes all the time?
One of the things I have found is that the average voter is literally led by the nose by the political class, that appeals to their primordial instincts and distracts them from the critical importance of their vote as a mechanism for hiring personnel for leadership job.

In the circumstance, their attention is diverted from critical evaluation of the capacity, competence and character of the candidates to perform the jobs they are being hired for. In its place, the voters are made to believe that tribal and religious loyalties should be supreme.

Of course, for the political class, tribal and religious loyalties provide quick access to the public till in a political setting that is based on prebendalism. What I have also found most concerning is that majority of the so called political class have no life skills for survival. This is compounded by a pervasive sense of entitlement and lack of contentment. This lethal combination provides a toxic cocktail for politics without principles.

As I listen to the agonizing permutations on the 2023 Presidential election, I realize that the choices seem complicated simply because the political class cannot comprehend how the disruptive changes in electoral process and widespread youth awareness and participation driven by social media democratization of information have altered the electoral dynamics thereby making prediction of likely winner unpredictable.

But this could have been simplified if the political class approached the election as a job recruitment exercise in which capacity, competence and character are the principal driving forces. Under that situation, the choice of who to support becomes a no brainer and ends the agony.

Unfortunately, this is only in an ideal world and Nigeria of today is far distant land from the ideal world.

Written by: Frank Oshanugor

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