2023: Expediency Of Conducting Issue-Based Campaign And Eschewing Campaign Of Calumny At Campaign Venues

By Isaac Asabor

There is no denying the fact that not a few Nigerians are looking forward to 2023, and in the same vein hoping that a leader who is patriotic enough, and with the ability to lead them in rebuilding the country win the forthcoming presidential election. The need for an able leader to emerge as the next president of Nigeria cannot be compromised on the basis of primordial sentiments as there is an urgent need for a more capable leader to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari who has for 7 years down the line been presiding over the affairs of the country. Given the foregoing, it is not an exaggeration to say that not a few Nigerians are praying that a better leader emerges as the next president to avoid a situation that would be likened to affliction arising for a second time.

But alas! Rather than tell us how the country’s parlous economy and worsening state of insecurity can successfully be addressed, virtually the three top presidential aspirants in the persons of Messrs. Peter Obi, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Atiku Abubakar with the support of their praise singers, who are invariably calumniators, particularly on conventional media and social media platforms, are making headlines for the wrong reasons as they have jettisoned issue-based campaigns and resorted to a campaign of calumny.

Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient, particularly as Nigerians are now looking forward to a president that knows his onions, for our politicos to, at any whistle stop of their campaign Train to tell Nigerians how prepared they are towards reviving the somewhat festering economy, make Nigeria a better place to live in and halt the ongoing killings of innocent citizens by hoodlums, kidnappers, terrorists, and their likes as well as stemming the tide of hunger in the land.

In fact, presidential aspirants and most of their followers that have become calumniators should at this time be telling the electorates what they want to hear. Nigerians want to hear presidential aspirants talk about the solutions they have at their disposals for the rejuvenation of the economy. For instance, lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) have been on strike since February this year, thereby leaving the students to be idling away at home for close to a year now. Given the foregoing retrogressive situation, Nigerians want to hear the presidential aspirants tell the electorates how Nigeria’s tertiary education sector can be rejuvenated.

Without any iota of exaggeration, Nigerians are looking for leaders who can help them live in peace and guarantee the future of their children. And to realize this, there is a need for the electorates to vote wisely and only for people who are known for their honesty and concern for the welfare of the people.

There is no denying the fact that not a few people are seeking genuine democracy in which leaders are servants of the people and not “looters”. If this is so, it is difficult to understand how mischievousness, calumny, and slander about one's political opponent can help one to win the forthcoming election. Politics should be honest and responsible. It should be an effective way of serving and working for the integral development of one's country. But it is sad when electioneering is marred with slander and malice from statesmen and their hired hack writers.

As we count down towards February 25, 2023, for the President and Vice President election, one notices that presidential aspirants and their praise singers cum calumniators have upped the ante against opponents. Each one of them wants Nigerians to think that he is avisionary. It is a positive sign that they “think” that Nigerians want a “visionary” leader. However, voters have serious questions about the vision of these aspirants as they are expending a lot of energy on the campaign of calumny rather than telling us how our lives can be bettered come 2023 and beyond. They are busy telling us about who among them is sick, who among them does not have academic qualifications, and so on and so forth.

At this juncture, it is expedient to say that if the LORD who does not look at the things people look at, as HE does not look at the outward appearance, but looks at the heart can give Nigerians the discerning spirit to look into the hearts of these presidential aspirants, it will unarguably shock usto discover that the only exposure they have is that of winning the election to become president. To them, the race to Aso Rock is a matter of life ambition. Aptly put, it is a matter of life fulfillment.

Be that as it may, it is expedient to enlighten some praise singers and calumniators that are feeding fat from presidential aspirants that electioneering ahead of the 2023 general elections, which is set to commence on September 28 should never be a pedestal for character assassination, name-calling, campaign of calumny, mudslinging and mocking opponents over their state ofhealth and authenticity of their educational certificates or degrees. Against the foregoing backdrop, it is expedient to say that campaigns should be anchored on issues to enable the electorates to make wise political choices from a point of information where the voter reviews the past in order to prepare for better political choices for the future.

The fact cannot be denied that the electorates cannot do well if fed on politicians’ lies, slander, malice, and calumny about the aspirants. To this end, issue-based campaigns are, therefore, absolutely necessary in a democratic process. Just elections require intelligent and responsible participation of all. And to perform this task excellently, the electorate needs to get themselves informed of the manifestoes from the various political parties which have programs of action that the parties propose to follow in order to serve the citizenry. A sound manifesto should articulate realistic goals that will enhance the development of this country in general.

At his juncture, it is expedient to recall that since all parties conducted their respective primary elections, and got their parties’ ticket bearers elected that how the challenges faced by Nigeria as a nation can be addressed seem to be inconsequential to the aspirants in their, and Nigerians as citizens are yet to be made to the understanding of many Nigerians. In fact, the promises that have been made are not different from what we have been hearing about since Nigeria became a truly democratic state in 1999. Without resort to being biased, it is only Mr. Peter Obi that can be said to be telling the people what he will do when he becomes Nigeria’s president come 2023; even if he is been calumniated for bandying inaccurate figures, at least, the electorates understand his message.

In fact, all the presidential aspirants that are set to commence campaigning from September 28 ahead of the forthcoming election call their praise singers and calumniators, including some ‘Churnalists’ to order, even as the electorates expect them to invoke the alchemy of great vision the period of electioneering. And this vision should be reflected in their manifesto and what they say. The best vision is insight. A leader is said to be one who “knows the way, goes the way and shows the way”. But with insults and slander of political opponents is only a sign that one does not know the way society wants to go and such a leader cannot lead anyone farther than he has gone.

The top three presidential aspirants in this context should have it at the back of their minds that if the farthest they have gone in articulating a vision is calumny, then, there is no way they can lead others in a better direction. Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire people to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. But lies, slander,and malice are not the way to get there.

In an election that is based on issues, those who have been in government in the past political dispensations will be evaluated against the record of what they have or have not achieved. If they fulfilled their promises and the quality of their judgment on many challenges facing the country, the better chances they have in realizing their political ambitions.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the perception and interpretation of the game of politics by most politicians and their followers are often distorted so much that some see it as a war between different parties, and even among kindreds, especially when the same political affiliation and ideology are not shared.

Politics is somewhat seen as a war by some politicians when there are personality clashes within the same party. To some of them, the campaign period is the right time for exhibiting retrogressive McCarthyism and horse -trading.

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