The things that should matter to Nigerian voters in 2022.

Where I come from, it is often said that it is not possible that a blind man, roasting a palm kernel would allow it get burnt twice. But can that be said of Nigerians? We have on several occasions not only burnt our palm kernels but also stoked the fire that burns our kernels.

While many Nigerians are thinking a good leader is going to fall on them from the sky, they keep making the same mistake of voting people who have no business in leadership. Leadership is responsibility. It is not buck passing and escapist excuses.

In the last 60 plus years with its human vicissitudes, Nigerians ought to have developed the uncanny ability to smell a conman from afar. Too many tribal and religious conmen have risen to swindle he people of their commonwealth. Sick people have arisen, and used the nation’s lean resources on boosting their health. Poor men have been voted on the platter of trust, only for them to snub the people and proceed on their own hidden agenda. Prison inmates have received pardons and have become president only to become demigods and untouchables.

We have had loud mouthed legislators whose words don’t match actions. There are those who say yes but indeed they mean an emphatic no. Still, there are people who outrightly think of gaslighting us into believing their terrible and puerile mendacious ramblings.

Suppose we put all that behind us and have a new beginning. We need to stop kowtowing to the caprices of the evil elite. Those who lost their lives defending the elite’s interests would turn in their graves, seeing that their godfathers and their ‘enemies’ have reconciled.

So, what really matters?

The past 60 years would have taught us a big lesson. Without much ado, I’d itemise what should matter to us as the elections are upon us. This year, 2022, is the most critical in our political journey. 2023 is just for the crystallisation of what we have put together in this year.

One of the lessons that should matter to us is that action, not word tells who is the man. We should refrain from believing everything we read on social media. Many people have been commissioned to turn white to black and hustle people’s minds for their patrons. They’d tell you that a Presidential candidate had raised the dead at a point or the other. They question you should ask yourself is whether this is a fact. I repeat, do not believe things you cannot verify.

The value the candidate places on human life. Human life is sacrosanct. It does not matter whether one person or a million died. Beware of anyone who tries to compare the number of deaths. Beware also , of anyone who keeps silent in the face of brutality. We are not animals. Humans show empathy. A callous, unempathic, unemotional made-of-steel leader can kill anyone without blinking. My people, please run away from such a person.

Deal with a person’s antecedents, not his rhetoric. Have his past investigated. The fact that people actually believe anything they are told , even when they are being sold dummies, is a intellectual affront. In the build up to the 2015 elections, I was in an argument with a colleague over Nigeria’s foreign reserves. What he told me got me temporarily paralysed. For an economist to believe that a country’s foreign reserve was used up!

The candidate must be able to give a timeline for his agenda. Nigerian politicians behave like a man desperate to make love to a woman. He can promise heaven and earth. He may even promise to dig his own grave. But as soon as he gets what he wants, he changes tone, talks down on the people and do totally different things. He is never interested in discussing with his people, he belongs to a new clique of opportunists whose only interest is milking the country.

A formidable legislature populated by people with academic and technical information on how to run a country. There must be a defined process of recalling people from the Chambers if their representation seems unbelievably unbecoming. Permit me to say that some people go to the legislature without a clue about what it is all about. They kowtow to the president or the governor. Ministers and commissioners ignore their invitations at will. Nigerians must insist that their legislature is particularly flooded by young brilliant minds.

The candidate must be a people’s man. Whether a governor or a president, he should see himself as the leader of the entire country or the state he governs. His actions or inactions should tell us whether he is going to be an internal colonist, a tyrant or a chauvinist. This country needs

Last but not the least, the leader must have an idea of how to run an economy. The fact that everything depends on the economy makes it the pivot around which our other daily activities revolve. We have to ensure that the person to be voted in is of a sound mind. He should be able to tell us what will happen when, how it will happen and back it up with data, projections and forecasts. Nigerians should move away from shouting yeeeeeeh! to dubious political pronouncements like ‘I will turn this nation around’. The normal reaction to this kind of statement should be curiosity.  The questions should be how, when, in what way etc.

As we start the search, let us shine our eyes. We cannot afford to be going backwards while others are progressing. A word is said to be enough for the wise.

Alex Agbo, a Social and Human Development Researcher writes from Lagos.

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