By Nnedi Ogaziechi
In a few weeks, the people of Ekiti state would troop to exercise their franchise by electing the next governor of the state for the next four years.
The political fireworks are on and the candidates are expectedly criss- crossing the state including the hitherto forgotten nooks and crannies to canvass for votes.
Promises are tumbling in and the wish list enlarging by the day which underscores the fact that on paper, politicians really understand the colour and texture of Eldorado. The missing link has always been with implementation and walking the talk.
From all indications, the manifestos (if any) of the contenders may have been fashioned around the ritual called annual budgets that look good on presentation but lack the implementation mechanics.
In the whole outing, what one considers most discomforting is that most of the promises seem not to be founded on the realities on ground.
Even the incumbent governor recently embraced volte face over policies and programmes he had stridently defended over the years as needful to pull the state out of the woods.
One wonders the place of political will and expediency in driving government policies. Further still, the question might be posed as to the extent the urge to win elections influences policies of government.
Change agents strictly so called seldom compromise on the content and character of the message and that informs the consistency in re-enforcing the message to bring the needed transformation which in the first instance is fired by the zeal for progress.
Should the need to be politically correct in an election year force a leader who believes in the strength and competence of his convictions to suddenly abandon policies that were considered to be in the best interest of the system?
Nigerian politicians are often held hostage on the eve of elections to swallow their vomit and that has consistently worked error in our change drive.
If for purposes of sanitizing the educational system in Ekiti and recover the state’s past glory in academic performance the governor in his wisdom believes that the teachers’ performance competence should be re-evaluated, why drop the idea just because election is by the corner?
The implication is that may be the policy or programme was unpopular ab initio or that the government deliberately went into a trade off simply to look good for the elections.
Assuming the incumbent governor is returned after the elections and he still strongly believes that this policy would surely address the problem of poor performance in the school system, what happens?
Incumbents all over the country are often forced to take precipitate actions at the eve of elections which oftentimes weaken the planks of transformation in their states.
At what point therefore would we start having leaders who think more about good governance as against the next elections?
This same sentiment drives the political promises in the course of campaigns and no one spares a thought on the possibilities and the practicable.
That perhaps accounts for politicians not considering the manifesto an important component of their campaigns and engagement with the electorate.
The moment we begin to see the correlation between campaign promises and the character of leadership being put in place, we would have made a great stride in institutionalizing a leadership culture that would promote sensitivity, responsibility and accountability.
Beyond the promises and volte faces, the utterances of the candidates leave much to be desired. When threats of blood and burn fire are hoisted in the air in a contest that will definitely produce a winner and losers, one wonders the kind of spirit with which politicians enter into contests.
One had expected that future governors of a state must be statesmen-like in their disposition and conduct. If the integrity of the umpire is impugned before elections, are we not pre-empting the outcome? If each candidate believes that if he is not declared the winner at the end of the day, INEC would have failed, what kind of impression are they creating?
Why wouldn’t their supporters unsettle the system if they eventually lose? Not until the politicians stop treating elections and contests as business investment, we would continue to find fault with every election even if the Almighty is physically heading INEC.
Why must politicians always go into contests with negative mind sets? Even before the result of elections are released, they usually start assembling lawyers to handle their election petitions.
Nigerian politicians do not have respect for the electorate and are largely self-conceiting. None of the contestants in Ekiti state have taken time out to embark on voter education, rather, all efforts are geared towards abusing their opponents and arming their supporters to create chaos either during or after elections.
How can this hard earned democracy be grown and sustained when we refuse to embrace known democratic precepts and practices world over?
Does it lie with the contestants to be saying why their opponents are unelectable? That should be the business and headache of the Ekiti people. The candidates should busy themselves with what they have done for the people so far to merit re-election or what they intend to do if elected as against what the status quo offers. That is civilized campaign devoid of language that stokes violence and mayhem.
Ekiti election offers a veritable opportunity for INEC to win the confidence of Nigerians in terms of logistics management and conduct of the election proper.
Let INEC build on the experiences of Edo, Ondo and Anambra states. If the elections are hitch free, transparent and unimpeachable, Nigerians would readily identify those incurable wolf criers in politics. That would be a great step in building confidence in our electoral process.
By Nnedi Ogaziechi
This article was first published in The Daily Independent on May 22, 2014.
Last modified: May 22, 2014