2023 General Elections, The Nigerian Youth And The Questions Of The Moment.
Our votes remain the most powerful tool available to us, as citizens of a democratic nation, to choose our leaders. It is a right and not a privilege. A vote is defined as a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates, or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands. Rev. Raphael Warnock defines a vote as a kind of prayer about the kind of world you want to live in.
So voting is a means of freely expressing a choice about how we want to live our lives. But sometimes, it’s very difficult to arrive at a choice. There are so many things to consider. Sadly, what most people do is align with politically familiar people or organizations under the impression that they have their best interests at heart. This is how it has been in the last six times we have gone to the polls in the past 24 years in Nigeria. During this period, Nigerians have been so traumatized by outright lies and deception. In the process, a whole new “upside-down” culture has enveloped us – a culture completely alien from that known to our fore fathers.
I believe it is time to stop and have a rethink about how we have voted or surrendered our votes in the past. I also believe it is time we get more involved in the political process by knowing our country better, the issues clearer, and digging deeper into the candidates and their political parties, since it is clearer to us now that a good government translates to a better Nigeria for all of us.
As we prepare to elect the next President of our great nation, it is imperative for us to ask some pertinent questions. The answers to these questions are strong indicators of how our common resources will be managed by a candidate, should he emerge President. A wasteful campaign will produce a wasteful government and a none truthful campaign will be a none truthful government. It is also equally important for the masses to have a wishlist for the political parties and not just ask “what is in it for us” ie. their manifestoes. This is the only way to raise the level of debate and differentiate leaders who empathize with the masses.
One. We should start with assessing the character and integrity of the candidates (Presidential Candidates and Vice Presidential Candidates). What were the circumstances that determined their emergence as party flag bearers? How have they conducted themselves during the campaign period?
Some of the candidates are demanding that ruling Nigeria is a birthright, others are whipping up very dangerous religious and tribal sentiments. Still some have floated subsidiary political parties and proposed concepts that they themselves have never practiced, despite personal wealth and unhindered access to finance all their lives. They are, in truth, strong and active antithesis of the concepts they propose. We have witnessed these crop of politicians utilize public resources to further their personal and selfish agenda. Be on the look out for these contradictions.
Prince Adewole Adebayo, the Presidential Candidate of the SDP, has mentioned many times that we must not believe anyone who claims to be representing the interest of a tribe, region or religion. Without a doubt, we must all have personal stories where we have seen none locals of our communities or regions who have made great contributions and accomplishments to their host communities; in government, as spouses of locals, in manufacturing, in education, etc.
Nigeria has gone beyond these very shallow segregative divides. The youth of Nigeria are more united as a bloc, in creativity, drive, innovation and hunger for success and development than they are with the elders in their respective regions. In fact, the progress and achievements of the youth of this country has been in spite of the corruption and aggression of government towards their businesses and other activities.
Two. We should also ask: How well do they understand the issues and what practical approach do they propose towards the resolution of our challenges? We must also consider performance and ideologies of the political parties that they belong to.
SDP’s vision to bring about a new Nigeria of our dreams has its foundation and framework based on Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, which dictates that sovereignty belongs to the people and that the primary purpose of government is to cater for the welfare and security of the people, and Chapter 4 of the Nigerian Constitution, which dictates the rights and liberties of the citizens, and emphasizes on the equalities of citizenship.
SDP’s main objective is to eradicate poverty and to secure our country. At the end of the day, it all comes down to provision of jobs or economic inclusion, shelter for all, healthcare for all, nutrition or food for all, access to electricity for all and security for all. These are essentially the key indicators for the determination of multi-dimensional poverty. At the moment, these indicators for Nigeria are very poor. We will reverse this trend if given the opportunity.
Three. Another assessment criteria should be the quality of their associates and sponsors. What are their antecedents and inclinations? Why is this important? Because in Nigeria, the course of power is highly influenced by the character of the President, his family and domestic support, and the people that have access to the President. If these circles are genuinely interested in Nigeria, then power will work for Nigeria. But if these circles are more interested in themselves, then power will work for them only.
At this point, it is pertinent to remember that due to the frequent changing of political parties by these old politicians while chasing their selfish interests, they are now one and the same. That means the politicians of any of these political parties will have equal access to power should any one of them emerge as President. This also explains why even after power has moved from one political party to another, and from person to person, they still share a strong commonality with poor management of Nigeria and an entitlement mentality to our common wealth.
Over the past 24 years, we have became a country in which war veterans who risked their lives and limbs to protect us and secure our peace are treated without the dignity and respect they deserve; a country in which our traditional rulers who mobilized their people and fought the colonial masters, are reduced to beggars, unable to serve their people; a country in which our civil leaders (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) have become so corrupt, partnering with equally corrupt bankers to place funds in fixed deposits while the services they are supposed to render go unfunded.
We are now a country in which public servants award contracts to themselves and cannot, in good conscience, supervise them to proper execution; a country in which “foriegn investors” means foriegn partnership with those in power for over invoicing and round tripping; a country in which the welfare of those responsible for shaping the youth and the future is not a government priority; and a country in which the reporting of truth is compromised because our journalists do not have adequate job security as such their welfare is now dependent on how well they please the news makers.
We have a choice to either uphold this corrupt system or stand up for a Nigeria where accountability, equity and justice is entrenched; these are the choices before us. The coming elections should be about building a better society for all, not a turn by turn looting game for a few elites. Hence, we must demand a progressive and value adding consensus from our leaders.
As Nigerians, we say it’s time for intelligence and capacity in service, integrity in leadership, respect for Nigerians by their leaders and a practical approach to resolving our challenges. The SDP has demonstrated that it has the most intelligent team on the ballot. We make bold to say that SDP has a clean leadership devoid of scams and suspicions and we have the cleanest team in the elections. SDP has demonstrated that it respects Nigeria and Nigerians the most by keeping its campaign local and respecting Nigerian Institutions. Furthermore, drawing inspiration from Chapter Two of the Nigerian Constitution, SDP has demonstrated that it has the most practical approach to resolving our challenges.
To the youth of Nigeria, who keep saying it is time for the youth to take charge, know that the SDP has the most youthful team on the ballot – both Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates are 51 years old. The work force of organizations that manage elections has a youth majority. Agencies that provide security for elections also have youth majority. Also, within those eligible to vote in the forth coming elections, the youth have a majority. This means that the outcome, as well as the conduct and integrity of the elections, rests in the hands of the youth. There is no excuse for the Nigerian youth to not change the course of Nigeria and vote in a brighter future for themselves. We must vote in people who see us as partners and equals, not people who can not even relate to us.
While yearning for a brighter future, we must know by now that these failed politicians do not have the capacity and will to produce a brighter future for us. We must fight and win the reins of power away from them to guarantee our brighter future. Based on the conduct of these failed politicians over the past 24 years, we must now know that they cannot be trusted. Moreover, we must know that we cannot solve our challenges using the same people that created them in the first place.
So do not surrender or waste your votes on failed politicians and their empty promises. Vote for a break away from failed and questionable politicians. Vote for a new beginning. Vote for SDP. Vote for the white horse. Our future and the future of our children depend on the choice we make in this General Elections.
Make sure your vote counts.
Yusuf Salisu Buhari
SDP VP Candidate