In 40 days time, Nigerians will throng the polling booths to vote for a new president in an election that’s widely described to be a watershed in the country’s political history.
In my last column titled, “The World in 2023”, I briskly highlighted the significance of this year’s elections. Today, I will be commenting albeit, fleetingly, on the necessary things Nigerians should consider before making their ultimate choice of presidential candidate.
Without doubt, the February 25 election will be decisive as its outcome and the course the country would likely take will have far-reaching ramifications for the present and future generations.
So, what are the issues at stake? This term the obvious ones especially for the elites are power rotation, restructuring and ticket balancing.
However, for the rest of us, what will presumably be our guiding principles? Will it be the parochial religious sentiments, materialism or self-centredness? All these had, sadly, been factors that swayed and determined our decisions in previous elections.
I think Nigerians should now be more focused and concerned about consequential and relevant issues while deciding for their next president. Character, personal integrity, vision and will power should form the cardinal principles followed by the best candidate that can tackle insecurity, unify the nation, curb unemployment, fight corruption and revitalize the economy.
It will be the 7th consecutive elections since the return to democracy and birth of the Fourth Republic. Hence we can not get it wrong this time. Suffice it to say that in the last in the last 34 years of democracy in Nigeria, the nation has been drifting. Indeed it’s actually very difficult to tell positive stories today because the reality is that as a country we have nosedived and under-performed despite our huge human and natural resources. Nigeria has suffered massively from decades of reckless and debilitating corruption, selfishness and bad governance that has undermined our ability to reach the heights we should have reached. We have failed to reverse the tide of bad governance, straddled by generations of leaders that have ruled and ruined Nigeria. The end game is only stupendous wealth for themselves and misery and poverty for the majority of Nigerians. We have failed to confront our weaknesses and learn to severely sanction our leaders who engage in mega looting and transfer our wealth abroad to build other economies while ours remain underdeveloped.
The poverty statistics are clear indicators. From 1999 to date poverty has quadrupled and presently about120 million Nigerians are living below poverty line. After spending trillions of Naira, the security situation has worsened.
Infrastructure decay is wanton and corruption has become adorable. With this grim outlook, I fear for my beloved country If we fail to get it right this time around..
It’s extremely important that we make the right choice. Already the political parties have done their own bit. Unfortunately most of them had not prioritise competence and the things that this country require. But even then within what we have at the moment we have got to be very careful to avoid electing a president on the basis of which part of the country he comes from or his faith. It should be on the basis of his ability, competence and sagacity. He must possess the skills to navigate difficult situations and get us out of the doldrums. He should not be an out-of-the-mill politician but a statesman who is visionary and thoughtful. A politician is shortsighted and myopic and looks only at how he can win the next election. A statesman looks at the next generation.
Nigeria has a young, burgeoning population of about 230 million and in the next seven years the population is expected to reach 300 million and by 2050 we are projected to be between 400 and 420 million people. That will make us the third largest in population after India and China.
How do we provide food, housing, education, health and jobs for this rising population? How do we utilize the population to our advantage to grow the economy and prosper? These should be the focus and agenda for the incoming leadership. For the positions of the president and the state governors, we must elect people who have the grasp of the issues, depth of knowledge of the problems and the willpower to carry reforms through.
Nearly 65 percent of our people are in below 35 years. We must cater for this youthful generation. Therefore in the forthcoming election we need to choose people who think, appreciate and care about the future who have the capacity to understand the new economy, the dynamics and the emerging world.
The digital and green economy are the economies that will shape the 21st century. That’s where the jobs are. So, we should thrive to brng in competent people to man the critical positions at national and subnational levels.