With the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) successfully concluding their primaries, Nigerians are now looking forward to issue-based campaigns in the weeks ahead. This is in spite of the acrimony that preceded some of the primaries, where candidates who lost refused to gracefully accept defeat. Definitely, Nigerians have for long put up with such ungentlemanly behaviour from politicians who are yet to see electoral losses as part of civilised democratic process, where ideas are freely contested and voters allowed to make in-formed choices.That is why the 2015 elections will be very important for the country’s progress. For long, Nigeria has been at the receiving end of political brigand-age visited on it by those who think they must win at all costs. Sadly, the Fourth Republic has not shown any departure from such inglorious past. Reason is that those aspiring to leadership positions are yet to imbibe the culture of civilised political behaviour, where issues-based campaigns are the rule rather than the exception. All that must change if Nigeria is to stand any chance of ever joining the comity of democratic nations. No doubt, the 2015 elections would deter-mine the way forward for the country. But for any change to come true, politicians must base their campaigns on issues and not threats. This should not be the period to frame up political opponents or prevent them from campaigning for their successes at the polls but rather issues must dominate the arena of discourse. Nigerians and indeed the international community expect a high level of decorum from our politicians as the 2015 campaign gets underway. And with that, politicians must face the reality on ground. These realities include persistent insurgency, especially in the North-east, prudent management of the economy and sky- high corruption. Others are recurring militancy in the Niger Delta, kidnappings,youth unemployment, scandalous outages and decaying infrastructure. It is not enough for politicians to regale voters with outlandish promises of free education, health for all and industrialisation, without telling them how these can be achieved. More than at any period in our history, Nigeria needs a clear direction on the way forward. There are fears that the insecurity could even worsen because of the falling oil prices, as the living conditions of the poor further plum-met. How will the candidates deal with these challenges? Which of the two parties will handle them better is a question the electorate should be able to answer before exercising their franchise come February next year. But that will only happen if there is a contestation of ideas on those critical issues. We need the details from both Muhammadu Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan, not the recurring language of possibilities or exchange of tirades by their party loyalists. Also, the media has a critical role to play if the 2015 elections are to be free and fair. It must assist the people to premise their choices on rationality and vote wisely at the poll. Enough of campaigns of insults.
*this was published in Daily Times newspaper dated: Monday, December 15, 2014