Far too often, political coverage has been based on the thinking of friends and political allies and doesn’t pay enough attention to what the voters are actually thinking. For instance, how does General Muhammadu Buhari maintain his audience, who keep putting their thumbs to vote as well as staying ready for conflict even when the odds are stacked against them? What is the silent statement here?
Nasty political mud-slinging. Campaign attacks and counterattacks. Personal insults. Outrageous newspaper invective. Dire predictions of warfare and national collapse. This is today’s style of politics. Politicians have become trapped in the idea of winning or losing that they even fail to capitalize on innovative new forms of politicking or growing technology and more importantly, they fail to address the issues at hand.
This explains why security and the eradication of corruption have had top legislative priority over proposing an economic agenda to assuage voter anxieties. And it’s why pundits and donors alike are vastly overrating the prospects of brand-name candidates and undervaluing the reality that the current political environment is as toxic as it’s ever been for lifelong politicians.
At the most fundamental level, the next presidential election is shaping up to be a battle of which party can best conquer its demons—whether Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s camp can improve their badly beaten brand, and whether General Muhammadu (or any other APC candidate) can present himself as the candidate of change, given the high level of voter dissatisfaction.
Whether we like it or not, when our car is bad, we take it to a mechanic.
That’s a typical Nigerian attitude. We don’t care whether the mechanic is an engineer or if he is also going to experiment with our vehicle. So where do we take a Nigeria beaten down by corruption, ineptitude, red-tapism, recycling leadership structure, high levels of unemployment and a host of other claims puritanicals have been brandishing? To the product of a political miscalculation by a power drunk leader who had scarcely recovered from dictatorial tendencies, a geographical error embedded in a Southerner planning to spend a minimum of 10 years in power? Or to a northern Muslim leader renowned for an era of radical approaches against corruption and impunity, praised for keeping his hand away from the glitters of the national purse and rising again and again from defeat as the years go by.
The cases against GMB are diverse; majority of Nigeria’s political elite being reluctant to welcome a president who once possessed draconian military tendencies, pundits dubbing him a serial-loser, the fear that an era under him may be one of retribution and vengeance, and the possibility of extreme religious view being ushered into the political parlor. Yet even some of these people have their grudges against the current occupier of Aso Rock. A chunk of supporters who stood through angry glares from their friends and colleagues over GEJ during the last elections have become disillusioned by his performance in different sectors.
Optimists can say what they like, but Nigeria has still got its power problem, and the Goodluck Jonathan era has remained largely an era of insecurity. In the coming elections, the considerations are what direction GMB (if he wins the party’s primary election) will go? Elitist views can stretch as far as they like. But a bad car ends up in the hands of a mechanic, and when it’s there, good and bad doesn’t matter. Whether other contestants like it or not, General Muhammadu Buhari enjoys his kingship of the north, he alone can boast of restraint from the political cookie jar, and every year that he picks the ticket he raises millions of voters to his side. He is sure to do this again in 2015.
Article written by Tahir Sherrif, in-house freelance reporter with NewsWireNGR in Abuja
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