The need for Nigerians to be sensitive about 2023 election, politicians’ repeating promises
In fewer than seven weeks, Nigeria will face the reality of 2023, a pivotal year in which citizens will vote to elect new political leaders.
Already, presidential candidates from various political parties have been touring the country, campaigning for votes and support, and selling themselves to the same people with the same promises and attitude.
However, the question of how sensitive Nigerians are to the 2023 general election remains.
The question is pertinent because the country’s severe economic, social, and security difficulties, particularly since 2015, necessitate leaders with genuine manifestos; leaders who are truly sympathetic to the plights of the masses; and leaders who are serious enough to promise what they can deliver.
Of course, there are numerous reasons to be concerned about the 2023 elections.
Nigeria has fallen in major developmental metrics as of today. The country’s inflation rate has reached a record 17-year high of 16.95 percent, while the jobless rate remains at 33 percent.
Furthermore, the continuous depreciation of the Naira against major world currencies has rendered our currency nearly worthless, leaving importers at the mercy of the Central Bank since black market exchange for, particularly the Dollar, is unfathomable.
Aside from the economy, which has been struggling, particularly since the pandemic, insecurity has taken an unprecedented turn, with many dead or likely to die, properties lost, businesses closed, and local and foreign investments declining as bandits, kidnappers, and Boko Haram appear to have taken over the country.
Nonetheless, the government continues to borrow to fund security, with little results. Nigeria’s debt profile has once again reached an all-time high under the current administration, leaving the country with a dismal future.
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The country has also been more divided over the previous seven and a half years as the government has made less effort to establish bridges.
To actually be prepared for the 2023 election, Nigerians are expected to ask the appropriate questions now, scrutinizing broken promises entrenched in previous manifestos, among other things.
Observers have questioned how familiar Nigerians are with the presidential candidates’ manifestos.
Similarly, what impact would the presidential candidates’ agendas play in shaping vote patterns?
Ahead of the elections next year, it is worth noting that there is a greater desire among Nigerians to hear from candidates at all levels about their plans and objectives.
This is shown in the attention paid to various conversations organized by various venues to allow candidates to talk to Nigerians about their views.
Based on current events, Nigerians, particularly youngsters, are more aware of elections than ever before; they ask questions and are eager to engage politicians.
According to Chijioke Umelahi, an Abuja-based lawyer, Nigerians appear to have awoken; they are interested in party manifestos, given the types of questions they are asking now, and their fearlessness on social media in challenging the status quo.
The former Abia legislator stated that electorates are not interested in campaigns and well-stocked and well-presented manifestos, but in the execution of, at the very least, the manifesto’s primary pledges.
“I believe Nigerians are more concerned about the 2023 election than any other election for obvious reasons. With hyperinflation, growing insecurity, epileptic power supply, high unemployment rate, and other difficulties, it is clear that campaign promises made since 1999, particularly by the ruling party in the 2015 and 2019 elections, have not been kept.
“So it’s no longer manifestos, but execution after winning elections,” he explained.
Toeing Umelahi”s line, Cephas Bello, a senior lecturer at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, noted that Nigerians are truly more sensitive to the 2023 election than in the previous elections because even the politicians and looters have been hugely impacted by the bad shape of the economy, insecurity and social unrests.
“Those who looted the country’s funds have realised that the value is going down every day because of inflation, they cannot enjoy their loot because of insecurity, they cannot do certain business because of the many policies of the CBN, among other challenges, all because someone has failed to fulfill campaign promises. People are wiser now, they will openly support a party or candidate, but are following their conscience in real action. I have seen many big people now belonging to a party and supporting another secretly. The situation is also affecting Mr. President, his government has been the most criticized in the history of Nigeria’s politics,” Bello said.
According to Sam Onikoyi, a Nigerian researcher and academic in Brussels, Belgium, Nigerians are now more attentive to the next election than ever before and are prepared to make the correct judgments with their ballots this time, and politicians are aware of this.
“Why are there more pre-election violence, especially clamping down on opposition, refusing them venues for campaigns, and stopping their campaigns half way in some places. They know the change is here and are fighting for their survival. No doubt, people will sell votes, but most votes will count in 2023. I am from the Western part of Nigeria, but the reality is that 2023 should not be to support my region or kinsman because Nigerian will finally sink if the masses are denied the opportunity to save it through their votes in 2023.
Since we have been selling our votes, have we become richer, since they have been presenting doctored manifestos, have there been executions? Nigerians are ready this time, forget the propaganda of politicians, those threatening violence, the country is in a very bad shape now courtesy of the present administration’s failed promises. If it is here in Europe, they cannot campaign because they will not get votes,” Onikoyi said.
According to Efe Agemah, a medical doctor and pharmaceutical store owner in the Niger Delta, the masses have been following the campaigns and debates, but manifestos no longer matter, but matching action after victory does, because Nigerians have been duped in the past, particularly by the ruling party.
“I have read most of their manifestos, all the candidates have made good promises, good healthcare, stable power supply, fight insecurity, no corruption, revamp economy, and more, but their predecessors made such in the past without fulfilling them. All we need now is to vote out those who failed to deliver. We did that with Jonathan and his PDP, let’s do it again with the APC and continue until we get it right. It is not about manifestos, but fulfilling the contents of the manifestos, “ said Agemah, who lamented the exodus of Nigerian doctors abroad because of the situation at home.
According to Tunde Daramola, a public affairs specialist, electorates are more concerned with who becomes their leader, his pedigree, and the reality and likelihood of his promises being fulfilled.
Daramola went on to say that the panorama of Nigerian politics has changed for the better, drawing more ordinary people and making them more interested and sensitive to politics than in the past.
“Thanks to the #EndSARS protests in particular and the ravaging poverty in the country, generally. They are top among factors that have contributed in raising awareness and sensitivity of many in politics now,” he said.
Unlike in previous elections, he expects Nigerians to be more interested in the 2023 polls as political knowledge grows.
“Nigerians will be politically involved with increasing political awareness among the people, maybe because poverty is high now,” he added.
Similarly, Adeola Adelaja, a former national publicity secretary of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), stated that the previous government’s broken promises made no manifesto make sense to many Nigerians.
He emphasized that candidates should be profiled based on their previous performance.
According to him, “Like I have said before, candidates should be profiled based on their past track records because the three top contenders; Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a governor in Lagos for 8 years and also a Senator from Lagos West for 22 months. What was his track record during that period?
“Peter Gregory Obi was a governor in Anambra State for eight good years, how much impact did he make on the state?
“Atiku Abubakar, was the vice president to the former president Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo, how well did he deputise and was his direct impact on the economy?
“These are the questions that Nigerians should ask themselves before venturing into electing the next president.
“There are other very brilliant candidates, who can also do very much better in other political parties, so, Nigerians should not be carried away with the three names above.
“Yes, it is very important to ensure that the next president is elected based on capacity, competence, and character because a president with human feeling will put tribalism, religious sentiment and other personal interests aside and bring unity, prosperity and turn around the economy.
“Nigerians are desperately looking forward to electing a new president that will turn around the country for good but the search must be thorough and this is where knowledge and sensitivity come in.”
Yusuf Umar, an entrepreneur, said the tough state of the economy has made life unbearable for Nigerians, adding that it is time to vote out the present leaders.
“Personally, I am not happy with this government despite the promises, you can see the high poverty and unemployment everywhere,” Umar said.
In conclusion, the political, economic, and public affairs specialists believe that Nigerians are more attuned to politics than ever before and are scrutinizing campaign manifestos in front of the 2023 election.
Given the country’s tragic realities during the last seven and a half years, concerned Nigerians believe there is an urgent need for a change of guard, and the 2023 elections provide an opportunity.
Unlike in the past, many experts believe that electorates must be more cautious in selecting a leader in 2023, which has become necessary due to the variety of socioeconomic difficulties that have plagued Nigeria and the failure of those elected in the previous administration.
The bottom line, according to them, is that expectations are high among Nigerians that the next president will reposition the country and put it back on the path of prosperity, so people are delving into the manifestos of the major presidential candidates and effortlessly critiquing them to avoid a repeat of the 2015 election, in which the APC unseated the ruling party with sweet promises that many alleged have not been fulfilled after nearly eight years.
The need for Nigerians to be sensitive about 2023 election, politicians’ repeating promises