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Presidential Campaign Promises: Change As An Elephant

--Cutting-Edge Analytics--

By: Franklin Otorofani
 Published March 24th, 2011

If governance is the art and science of catering to the material wellbeing of the people in a given society then politics is the means by which the practice of it is formally set in motion. At the heart of the political gamesmanship is the determination as to the what, why, where, when and how such art and science are to be practiced in a given timeframe which is for the most part centered on man and his multitude of conflicting and insatiable desires, fancies and fantasies that constantly agitate his restless mind.

For all his high minded political posturing and grandstanding, however, such as for instance, the protection of the weak and the poor, wild life and endangered species, and mother earth, man is at all times at the center of politics with these other extraneous considerations serving as mere icings on the cake and ultimately for his own benefits. However, unlike lower animals whose simple desires are basically governed by instincts, human beings are internally conflicted in their desires because their desires are not only governed by instincts like all animals but oftentimes by complete externalities; that is to say, external stimuli some of which are totally alien to their own cultural environments. Sometimes humans may desire stability in the place of change, and at other times they may desire change in the place of stability. At yet other times they may desire both change and stability at the same time. Such is the nature of humans that their desires are not only impermanent but infinitely elastic. And that is part of the reasons why it is extremely difficult if not entirely impossible to please man, and if one by some chance succeeds in pleasing him at all it is but only temporal and never permanent due to the volatility of his desires, for the same people who shouted “Hosanna!” the last time will shout “Crucify him!” the next time around and vice versa. 

While some of these desires are existential and therefore instinctual as indicated above, others are wholly exotic in nature and not in any way critical or even necessary to his very existence and therefore totally dispensable. In the words of the economist they resolve themselves into shifting categories of “needs” and “wants” with these categories having no clear cut boundaries at all in that what is a want for some might be a need for others depending on their stations in life. But as civilization rapidly advances so are man’s desires tagging along and the shrinking of the global village has hastened this process to hitherto unimaginable rapidity and reach. Thus what happens in one part of the world in totally different socio-cultural climate is apt to be desired and longed for in other parts of world with totally dissimilar socio-cultural predilections. In other words human desires are converging ever so rapidly through communication and information technologies in addition to faster modes of transportation that has spawned multi-billion dollar global tourism industry. This makes the business of governance and the art and science of politics all the more uncertain, difficult and risky. It’s a huge gamble to want to lead under such testy circumstances except for those who go there to enrich themselves and not for rendering service to their people.

To a large extent, therefore, politics is all about meeting these ever expanding frontiers of human desires that very few governments, if any, have been able to attain due to the ever shifting goal posts of the desires. Before a set of old desires are met a million new desires are already lined up waiting to be met and woe betides the politician or leader that fails to meet them.  He would be dead meat for political vultures. And in the event, however, that such desires are not being met, whether they are indigenous and basically existential or exotic and acquired from foreign cultures, it gives rise to some other, if you like, secondary desires for change, the latter being seen as a necessary pre-condition or prerequisite for attaining the former. Thus for instance, a change in the leadership of a corporation, institution or government is invariably seen and touted by the promoters of change as a pre-condition for the attainment of the objects of their desires. In other words, the secondary desires are to be used in attaining the primary desires the fulfillment of which has been adjudged to be either wholly lacking or deficient in some respects.

However, the ability to convince the critical mass of the stakeholders, in this case the electorate, that such objects of desires are necessary in the first place warranting the change of leadership desired is critical to the execution and success of the change desired.  In politics that is the work of the political salesman of which the political candidate himself is the chief salesman supported by the party sales department, as it were, and the rank and file from top to bottom. It all comes together during the electioneering campaign period that is currently in full swing in Nigeria. It is therefore critically important for the electorate being sold on the need for change to examine what is being offered to them by the political candidates and their parties as alternative paradigms viable enough to warrant their consideration and possible adoption at the polls. In all their manifestations, electioneering campaigns come down to these basic issues as to the need for change in the affairs or direction the nation is headed and those best suited to bring about the desired change. Therefore, the onus lies on those spouting the idea of change to convince their fellow citizens of both the necessity of change and their capacities and abilities to effect the change desired.

While the people might have convinced themselves of the need for change on the basis of objective facts on the ground and might actually be the driving force for the change desired in the first place, many unscrupulous politicians have sought to capitalize on such popular clamor for change to ingratiate themselves on the people which they quickly transmute into a political horse on whose back they ride to power effortlessly only to sorely disappoint the people in the end. Although history is replete with such disappointments we don’t need to look beyond the United States under the current President Barack Obama to see the huge gap between the promise of change and its delivery to the people who had clamored for it. As I have had cause to state in previous write-ups and would repeat here as more evidence of it piles up by the day, many in the United States, including but by no means limited to President Obama’s own black, minority and labor constituencies, are now openly questioning and demanding to know where Obama’s promised change has gone because they have been looking everywhere around the nation but cannot find any appreciable evidence of it on the ground three years into his first term. And the little evidence there is, is about to be wiped out under Obama’s watch. Obama himself has since abandoned his change rhetoric for pragmatic accommodation of the essentially racist Republican agenda in the face of stiff resistance from the Republican flank. He has become a Republican by default in many respects to the chagrin of his core constituencies. 

True, this piece is not about Obama per se and this might appear to be digressive on the face of it. But the issue of change rhetoric during campaigns and failure to deliver when elected is as relevant in Nigeria as it is in the United States abundantly warranting drawing Obama into this discourse to help elucidate the issue. Where pragmatism warrants mid- course reversal in the change rhetoric to the extent of embracing policies that hurt Obama’s core constituencies such as federal funding for the seniors and the poor, it is time to put the brakes on pragmatism and doing deals with the Republicans whose faces beam with smiles seeing the old and the most vulnerable go down in acute economic distress in the name of cutting the budget deficits they themselves had callously and gleefully racked up under their own President GW Bush. How could Obama want to balance the budget which is incapable of being balanced in the first place, on the backs of the poor and vulnerable and giving brakes to the filthy rich who are the darlings of Republicans? The $60bn the Republicans want to cut from the federal budget is to write the Wills of the poor and vulnerable Americans who happen to be disproportionately blacks and minorities because many will die due to lack of care they have been used to even if not perfect. That is not “change we can believe in” but “change we can’t believe in!”

Whether it is about Wall Street or the watered down Health Care Act Obama is already reversing himself in the face of the Republican onslaught. In other words “change” has been put on reverse gear before our own eyes. But not so fast though, for his core constituencies have refused to forget the fact that barely three years ago, Democratic candidate Barack Hussein Obama had promised them “change we can believe in” but the promised change has disappeared into thin air with its ringing rhetoric that still rings in their ears till date. Was it a sweet dream or some futuristic reality? No, it wasn’t a dream but a promised reality they had invested their political capital in back in November 2008, when they hit the roads, towns and cities; knocking on doors and working the phones like all their lives depended on it. Almost three years later all of that is turning into ash in their mouths and acquiring the character of a dream; all because in their understandable euphoria they didn’t bother to ask the right questions as to how Obama was going to deliver “the change we can believe in” under such dire economic circumstances he was inheriting from GW Bush and the Republican warmongers. The general attitude then as always was: Why, put him there first and then we can come back and ask those questions later, because in his case, putting him there first was in and of itself the fulfillment of a bigger dream all by itself as his election represented an historical turning point in the political history of the United States.

Who knows, perhaps the same attitude is at play in Nigeria too with folks refusing to ask hard and penetrating questions that are designed to bring out the complexities and nuances of real issues of development challenges facing the nation even during a presidential debate. While campaign rallies are not the appropriate forum for asking penetrating questions, debates and interviews are and ought to be fully exploited and utilized toward that end. After all, what are their purposes if not those? Are they meant to be beauty pageants with the candidates strutting their stuffs on stage for the viewing pleasure of the audience and no more or a forum for delving deeply into the plans of the candidates? The failure to ask penetrating questions and insisting on answering them when evaded is rather unfortunate. Since the press has been abdicating its responsibility to grill the candidates for the job on behalf of the people who can’t do it by themselves, perhaps a time should be set aside for the parties to publicly present their plans before the public on public television beamed live to the nation with each party and its presidential candidate taking turns on different dates before a well heeled panel. That is much better than the watery debates being organized where candidates evade questions at will and move on with no time to bring out real issues. 

That said the gulf between the rhetoric of change and its delivery continues to widen ever more so in places like Nigeria where politicians care less in the first place about keeping promises delivered with sugary flourish because, as we shall see below in this discourse, no one in the media has cared to task them about the specifics and feasibility of their promises and the means of delivering them within existing financial, managerial and institutional constraints inherent in the system as the Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, is finding out rather belatedly. The reality of the matter, however, is that promises are made to gullible publics with politicians not bothering to do their homework properly as would be expected in the manner of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, for example, who was known to outline his programs and projects with their costing elements well laid out to the last kobo for people to see and evaluate for themselves even before the campaigns proper. The late chief was known to cite facts and figures effortlessly without referring to any notes because he had taken his time to prepare his briefs and gotten accustomed to the facts and figures he was recalling with such ease. To more or lesser extents other political operatives at the time were into the business of offering project and program specifics to the electorates in both the First and Second Republics. However, the late Ikenne Chief stood out head and shoulders over and above all others in this area of substantive campaign execution.

Of course Awo was employing the services of experts in the various fields to assist him as it should be but the final output belonged to him and his party. Many of our present day political candidates do not seem to understand or appreciate the need for thorough articulation of the issues involved requiring attention and proper planning. Even the articulation of the issues themselves has left much to be desired making one to wonder if the nation has been unable to replenish its brain stocks in the political field since the departure of the titans a few decades ago. Has the nation lost the quality of candidacies that once held sway in the First and Second Republics? If the answer is yes, the long period of military rule and the current invasion of ex-generals in the political arena who have no training or experience in politics is to blame. “Command and Control” mentality seems to have invaded the political arena so much so that political aspirants do not seem to see the need for careful planning and execution. Whatever planning and execution there is appears to relate only to political thuggery and incitements to violence for which certain of the candidates have unabashedly acquired notoriety. All our lazy candidates seem to be doing is to simply mouth “change” as if that in and of itself is all it takes to effect change without more. And because they’re not prepared they spend all their valuable time fiddling with half-baked policies when they get to power that wind up in abysmal failures and huge disappointment for their peoples with the tax payers’ monies flushed down the drains.

Ever seen a serious entrepreneur starting out on a major new project without first doing a serious business plan to present to the bank for funding? It’s unthinkable, but it happens in politics where huge sums of money are at stake and they get away with it. It’s about time Nigerians viewed leadership recruitment that is election in terms of business propositions and accordingly call the candidates out on the specifics and feasibility of their plans and programs rather than lapping up change rhetoric from the soap box like hungry dogs feasting on human waste, for much of what is promised to the people is no more than verbal diarrhea from afflicted political patients.

While a good business plan is no guarantee of the success of the business for which it is made it is an indication of the seriousness and thoughtfulness of the promoters of the business and more likely to lead to success than one without such a plan, and the management of national resources should be no less important and serious than the management of an ordinary business. On the contrary, it should demand even more attention from political aspirants and candidates alike. This has not been the case with the Nigerian situation leading to huge failures and consequent disappointment of the people. It is not as if political candidates do not know the issues confronting the nation. Everybody knows the issues of bad road, poor healthcare delivery, acute power and water shortages, crime and insecurity and the rest of them. While everybody knows the issues not everybody has sat down to proffer viable solutions. It is not enough to simply declare: “I’ll fix the roads” or “I’ll fight crime” or “I’ll turn Nigerian varsities into world class institutions” and so on and so forth. No, it is not enough and can’t be enough. That is a mere statement not a plan. We want to see the plan. They must tell us how they want to do it—that is to say, the nitty-gritty of it all, not some bland declarations. It is the duty of those who seek public office to proffer solutions and such solutions should not be kept hidden in their flowing babaringa pockets but made available to the public in a timely manner. Not doing so is tantamount to not having any solutions at all.   

The failure of public office holders to deliver is directly traceable to their lack of unpreparedness before assuming office. I once read of how the present Lagos state Governor, Tunde Fashola, buried himself in his study analyzing Lagos state problems and fashioning out possible solutions as soon as he was nominated by his party to run even before the elections were held. The results are what we see today in Lagos state. For the unprepared, failures and disappointments trail their exit from power as in Edo, Delta, Ekiti and Abia states, for example. However, such disappointments seem to have strengthened rather than hold back the hand of the wily politician who is actively seeking an easy doorway to power. When we examine the rhetoric of the major presidential candidates; Goodluck Jonathan (PDP), Mohammadu Buhari (CPC), Ibrahim Shekarau (ANPP) and Nuhu Ribadu, (ACN), it would be found that they’re laced with the icings of change.

In the present dispensation President Goodluck Jonathan, not candidate Goodluck Jonathan, was the first major politician on record to mouth the slogan of change in his first foreign trip to the United States during the Nuclear Summit of World Leaders which held in August 2010 where he in his address to the United States Foreign Relations Council he mouthed the themes of change and transformation before the international audience in the following words: “In this responsibility of consolidating and deepening our democracy, we are committed to ensuring that the remaining period of the administration is not a transitional period but one which, we hope, will one day be viewed as a watershed, a transformational time in our young democracy. For us in Nigeria, this is our time. Either we continue with more of the same or we change the game.”

Implicit in that statement is the recognition of the failures of then current approaches to governance under the leadership of his own party, the PDP. In other words, Jonathan had on his assumption of office recognized that the fact known to many that the policies he inherited from his boss were not working and therefore could not be relied upon to deliver the goods to the people hence the line “Either we continue with more of the same or we change the game.” Quite a candid statement, I would say, and a telling indictment of both the Yar’Adua and the OBJ administration in certain particular respects.

To Jonathan, therefore, change means doing business in a different way—“changing the game” in order to attain the same goals. It’s not about changing faces in power nor is it about changing goals but about changing the way of attaining those goals which the nation has long agreed upon. Though he was part of the Yar’Adua administration he was only seen not heard and in any case the buck stopped at the desk of Yar’Adua not Jonathan’s. He was not the designer and implementer of policies but a mere helper to the late president and so could not push his alternative views too strongly and too far from those of his former boss to whom he had pledged his loyalty. And once given the opportunity he quickly seized on it to change course. Two areas that the changed course has manifested itself is in the electoral reform and the power sector reforms where Yar’Adua had dithered for two and a half years without delivering a single megawatt including his un-kept promise to declare a national emergency, and his promised electoral reform left in the cooler. 

While by no means new in our political lexicon it is perhaps fair to state that the Jonathan phenomenon has been animated by these twin themes of “change” and “transformation” from the very beginning as indicated above well before his presidential candidacy and those of his opponents as well and right into his electioneering campaigns. This is so because at the time that statement was made in far away Washington DC.,  Ribadu the ACN candidate was still a fugitive trying to cut a deal with Jonathan to enable him return to his country from his self-exile; Ibrahim Shekarau of the ANPP was still an unknown quantity, and Muhammadu Buhari of the CPC was still mapping out his political bearings having been humiliated by his former party, the ANPP. At the time Buhari’s political future was uncertain as his party leadership and its state governors had turned against him eventually forcing him out of that party to seek his political fortunes in the CPC the same way Abubakar Atiku was forced out of the PDP in 2007 to seek his political fortunes in a new party, AC, which was later rechristened ACN.

So far as public statements go, Buhari has not acquitted himself as one given to philosophical flourish in his public statements. It is sad to say that he has been associated more with inciting and inflammatory statements than with philosophical or visionary statements throughout his campaigns. Yet knowing the magic in the word “change” he has managed to mouth the “C” word for all its worth in describing himself as “a change candidate” during the launch of his campaign website. Not to be undone and as an indication of the power of the word, Ribadu too has latched on to the same change rhetoric. And as recently as the first presidential debate held in Abuja Ribadu described himself as “symbol of change” being a “young man” like the rest of young leaders in the United States, France and Britain, whom he claimed are “doing well”.

·   However, he would not tell us what he meant by “doing well” and how they and their performances have been particularly different from their older predecessors in office on account of their age. By the way, how well is Sarkozy doing and how popular is he in France? Recent reports put his approval ratings at its lowest yet at 29% French president’s approval rating at record.  Too bad for him but our own presidential candidate in Nigeria who wants to be president of the world’s largest black democracy is out there telling his country men and women that “he’s doing very well”. How pathetic. Pray, is his own president’s approval job rating not better than that of French president Sarkozy?  How popular is Barack Obama is in the United States? “As popular as the US midterm elections results showed,” many would answer, if asked. It has been claimed that Sarkozy has become so unpopular in France that he is now seizing on foreign issues such as the crisis in Ivory Coast and Libya to escape domestic low job approval rating woes. Similar fate awaits the British PM if he is not already suffering from low job approval ratings in the hands of his country men and women. The likes of Ribadu could applaud these foreign leaders all they want in far away Nigeria as super performers from across the Atlantic, but the judgment of their own people matter most not theirs as the US midterm elections have poignantly demonstrated. In the light of this, it makes no sense whatsoever to tout these foreign leaders before our local electorate unless we want to be copy cats as we have always been mouthing change on the basis of what has happened in the United States, France and Britain where young leaders emerged. As many would readily agree it smacks of inferiority complex. That these leaders emerged on both continents at the time they did was not something planned but pure historical coincidence. The Americans did not vote in Obama because France had Sarkozy and the same goes for the British as well.

Let’s cut out this copycat syndrome from the debates and dwell on substantive issues relating to programs and policy matters that are important to the nation and the citizens. That is what matters in the end not necessarily age of the candidates. After all, we have had young governors like Ibori, Kalu, Igbinedion, Turaki, and the rest of the bunch who turned out to be complete disasters in governance. On the other hand we had older governors like Chris Ngige in Anambra and the present Tunde Fashola of Lagos states who have been adjudged by many as performers. So age is not the issue but vision and mission and many would agree with that statement. However, that is not to say that we should invite octogenarians to come and rule over us because they are more experienced and could perform better but to indicate that whoever shows up must be assessed on his or her personal merits, competencies and performance records rather than solely on the basis of age. When for instance Buhari claimed in the debate that he used his chairmanship of the PTI to “better the lives of Nigerians” he should have been made to tell Nigerians how he did it and point to his legacies.

I would, therefore, respectfully advise Nuhu Ribadu to stop touting age because Obama did not do so with Senator John McCain and if he did he would have lost the election because Americans do not take kindly to such comparison coming from the mouth of the candidates themselves. That is the thing with copycats from foreign lands. They see a part of the picture and run with it to tout at home as the whole. Candidate Obama steered clear of that subject even when some were trying to ensnare him by bringing it up to him during interviews and debates because he knew the consequences too well. And since Ribadu is comparing himself with the Presidents and Prime Minister of the United States, France and Britain perhaps he should equally imbibe their campaign decorum and refrain from using age as a prop. It will not work anywhere because voters are smarter than that. Haven’t they seen the disastrous failures of youths in governance just like their older counterparts everywhere in the nation?

But here is the crux of the matter proper: Since each of the candidates save perhaps Ibrahim Shekarau has been mouthing the change rhetoric so loudly it must be dear to their hearts. So why not talk about the substance of the change they have been spouting everywhere? Nigerians are entitled to know the type of change they are talking about. When Buhari talks about change what exactly does he mean? When Ribadu talks about change what is the substance of it? Ditto for Jonathan. This question has become necessary because if we care to find out from these candidates their versions of change we will discover that they are not at all talking about one and the same thing. I have endeavored to distill what Jonathan means from his statement quoted above and would not bother the reader with that again.

To Buhari change might mean replacing the PDP with CPC of which he is the Sole Proprietor. To Nuhu Ribadu change means bringing a “young man” or “youth” to be more precise to replace the “old” guard. Additionally, both Buhari and Ribadu would interpret the replacement of the PDP with a different party at the center as equivalent to change. But that is where their agreement ends. Ribadu would find it hard to believe that replacing the PDP with CPC is change having said at the debate, “I have been in government for the past 25 years, while others have retired in the past 25 years”! That was a direct jibe at Buhari where it hurts most. That statement is loaded. In one broad stroke he is describing Buhari as a spent force who had been around long enough to retire and still in retirement thus implying that he is tired with nothing new to offer. Both age and lack of fresh ideas are loaded in those coded words. Like I said earlier that is not the kind of issues that should be brought up in serious presidential debates and Ribadu goofed badly there. Resorting to age rather than substantive issues shows he has nothing serious to offer himself but trivialities. It’s a shame.

Bluntly put Buhari does not represent change to Ribadu and I don’t know if Ribadu would represent change to Buhari either even though both might agree that replacing the PDP at the center represents change. The point of disagreement is what and who to replace PDP and Jonathan with. If it means replacing the PDP and Jonathan with ACN and Ribadu, Buhari would pointedly reject that as change because he considers Jonathan to some extent, and Ribadu to much greater extent, as both inexperienced, and he said that much during the presidential debates where he touted his extensive experience. Thus it is obvious that change has different meanings to these candidates. It is like a blind man being asked to describe an elephant. Whichever part of it he feels with his hands becomes the elephant as a whole in his description. Change is only change when it brings Buhari and the CPC to power as far as Buhari is concerned. And change is only change when it brings Ribadu and the ACN to power as far as Ribadu is concerned because change is an elephant in the hands of the blind. For the rest of us however change means more than either Buhari or Ribadu getting to power. It means more than sloganeering but something substantive.

Now let’s take one issue that is dear to the heart of Nigerians—Power Supply which came up during the NN24 presidential debate for example. As we know President Goodluck Jonathan has launched his Power Road Map which he and his government are presently implementing rather aggressively with noticeable results even within the short time he assumed power. As reported by THISDAY, “When asked what he would do to fix the epileptic power sector in Nigeria, Buhari said: “We need to put our dams to optimum utilisation. When we are sworn-in, we need to investigate what happened to our national resources voted for this sector between 1999 to this time.”

There in black and white is candidate Buhari’s solution to the power problem that has plagued the nation since independence. Buhari answer to the question was probing the expenditures on power supply since 1999 the very same thing late Musa Yar’Adua did for two years with “nothing to show for it” after assuming power in 2007. Buhari wants to thread the same failed path that brought nothing but pitch darkness to the nation while imported plants and machineries for the power projects were rotting away at the ports. I couldn’t imagine a worse response to that simple question that should have brought out the best in the candidate. It shows conclusively the lack of depth and appreciation of the development challenges facing the nation. Buhari’s answer was a disaster worse than the darkness into which Nigerians had been plunged for decades. 

When asked the same question, the paper reported too that Ribadu only took an opposite tack to Buhari’s. “On power sector Ribadu unlike Gen Buhari said that the blame game is over, rather we should be looking at solutions. He said that at the moment nobody knows who among the six competing interest is in charge of our power sector.” He is right about the blame game aspect that he dismissed out of hand which informed vindictive Buhari’s talk about probe rather than finding solutions as if there had not been enough probes in the past in the power sector under Yar’Adua. With due respect to Ribadu, however, the rest of his response was a non-answer to that all important question. He should at least have said something about generation, transmission and distribution challenges involved and how best to tackle them. That would have shown some understanding of the issues at least. All of these deficiencies raise the dangerous specter of unprepared candidates for the position they’re gunning for. The time to demonstrate seriousness and appreciation of the issues is now not afterwards.

As THISDAY columnist, Simon Kolawole, who claimed to have actually watched the debate would prefer to puts it in his column: Shekarau Sparkles, But Then...“The question on power was actually tricky—what do you want to promise that the government has not tried to do in the last 12 years? The government has been rehabilitating plants; it has injected more money into Mambilla since last year; it has been building new plants (Omotosho, Geregu, Alaoji, Papalanto etc) alongside private sector involvement (Afam, AES); it is diversifying sources (coal). Over all, Buhari and Ribadu did not offer anything new (even the House of Representatives probed the power sector expenditure and nothing has come out of it).”

Well said. But that Jonathan has his plan on ground and he is doing all the above does not preclude his opponents from offering their own plans even if similar to those already being implemented by the Jonathan administration. They could adopt and adapt such plans without crediting Jonathan for obvious political reasons. To not offer anything at all but nonsensical talk about probe is not an option. What in the world are the plans of these two candidates for the power sector? None! When they had the opportunity to present their plans they simply went AWOL ducking for cover with no tangible substance to their responses. Is that the legacy left for us by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafa Balewa and Alhaji Aminu Kano to come to a debate looking bland and clueless with nothing substantive to offer as policy prescription?

And one has got to ask: Where is the substance of the change promised? Change in the Nigerian context must necessarily be referable to the living conditions of the people that are presently almost sub-human not mere change in the faces of the occupants of the Presidential Villa. Nigerians are not looking for change in tenancy in Aso Rock but for changes in the conditions of their roads and highways; in hospitals and healthcare facilities; in the quality and quantity of educational institutions; in the quality of their living environments; in their economic circumstances; in the availability of petroleum and other products: in the good and quality housing; in public accountability by public office holders; in security of lives and properties as well as in sound democratic practices such as intra-party democracy and free and fair elections rather than mere photo changes in the party occupying Aso Rock because all the political parties are ideologically similar and therefore totally indistinguishable from one another ideologically.  What should distinguish them are their programs and policies as was the case among the UPN, NPN, NPP, PRP and GNPP during the Second Republic. What are the policies are programs of these parties apart from the PDP? By what nomenclatures are they identified? In the Second Republic for example, the UPN was identified with its Five Cardinal Programs and the ruling NPN with its Qualitative Education, Healthcare and Education and Green Revolution. What can we identify ACN, ANPP and CPC with in this dispensation? Nothing but attacks on PDP and Jonathan?

Come on folks, you guys can do much better than that. Nigerians deserve better if you guys are serious about the presidency. And please DO NOT refer us to some hidden manifesto or website. Your programs should have by now become household names not buried in some paperwork on the shelves. We didn’t need to consult any paperwork to know about Yar’Adua’s 7-Point Program or about OBJ’s NEEDS. These things should be in the public domain without much ado by reason and force of their constant restatement by party chieftains at every available forum just like the presidential debate forum offered. 

Since candidate Goodluck Jonathan has launched his plans for power supply which he has begun to implement because he is in power, the least that is expected of the other candidates is to publicly outline their own plans during the debates or at some other public forum for the nation to evaluate. Candidates can’t just show up at the debates and when confronted with questions about their plans for the power or other sector begin to talk about probes and other inanities without presenting anything substantive by way of plans and programs capable of being subjected to analysis and evaluation by the public and the nation for which it is meant. If these candidates continue in this manner in the mistaken belief that merely spouting change rhetoric will deliver the votes for them because Nigerians are not bankers who would ask for specifics, but bundles of ethnic sentiments who are supposed to be stupid, such candidates could be in for the shocker of their lives.

Every Nigerian with a voting card must treat his vote as his capital investment and subject each and every candidate seeking his investment to thorough scrutiny in order to make certain that the candidate knows what he is doing, has a viable investible plan and the capacity to execute them within the timeframe rather than making his investment on blind sentiments. And at all events such evaluation must necessarily involve the determination as to whether or not the candidate in question has held executive or other positions in the past and his records of achievements while holding such position for the past is a mirror of the future because people do not ordinarily change their nature and predisposition overnight except by some life altering happenstance. I don’t know if any of the candidates have suffered such a happenstance to warrant thinking that their essential characters and dispositions have been altered in any way, shape or form. But I could be wrong. 

I might have my political preferences but I’m not here to campaign for any of the four candidates because that is not my duty as analyst. That said, I consider it my duty to make available to the reading public the criteria I’m applying in the evaluation of the candidates that I would commend to the reader because sentimental or blind voting is not good enough on the part of the electorate in the 21st century. Change means more than a slogan. It has substance. Let’s find out the substance of it. 

From the stable of –Cutting-Edge Analytics—More than a Blog, It’s a Learning Experience!

Franklin Otorofani is an Attorney and Public Affairs Analyst.


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