By Saheed Ibrahim & Trust Akharaiyi
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, Nigerians have been charged to vote for leaders with track records, courage and experience who can reverse the current woes plaguing the country and place national interest above primordial and ethnic interests.
Those who spoke with The Hope in separate interviews, hinged the hope for a better Nigeria on right leadership which they said could only be achieved by voting political parties and candidates with a clear – cut programme and vision.
They said the electorate must consider candidates’ antecedents and pedigrees as well as their capacity to fix issues bedeviling the country.
A Professor of Political Science in Ekiti State University, EKSU, Prof. Akinsola Agagu identified major concern of Nigerians as good governance.
The political scholar explained that Nigerians must vote for candidates that can solve many issues contending with the country such as insecurity, electricity, education, health and the collapsing economy.
According to him, this also involves taking good care of the welfare of the people and in order to do that, there are some issues that should be tackled. One is the issue of insecurity which has almost swallowed the country.
“There must be evidence that the presidential candidate can tackle the issue. Then, we can talk about the welfare of the people; the issue of poverty and tackling it by building an enabling environment and provision of job opportunities.
Also, if there is good security then people can invest and foreigners can come to the country to also invest. These are important factors that should be put into consideration.
So, instead of giving mere words, political parties and their candidates should come out clear with their manifestoes about what they have for the people in these areas we have identified.”
He warned the electorate to eschew vote buying, which has become a norm in Nigeria political system, calling for more sensitisation and political education, especially for those in the rural areas.
Also speaking, an Associate Professor of Political Sciences at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, AAUA, Dr. Bayo Fasunwon said Nigerians must consider the antecedents of political parties and the pedigrees of their candidates.
“Especially those major political parties which have at some points in time held positions, what did they do when they were in power.
“Then concerning those parties that have not held positions, we will have to consider the pedigree of their candidates, their experience in governance, their antecedents, work done and their achievements so far. Also, are they people that would be able to give support.”
Fasunwon said the electorate should not be swayed by promises of fixing the many issues in the country but how the issues will be fixed.
For example, if it’s the education sector they want to work upon, they should state how they intend to resolve issues in the sector, if there would be free education at all levels or only the basic level.
“Also, we would have to examine what their stance is for the economy. Take for instance, if they would remove fuel subsidy, will they attack the bandits head-on or continue to pacify them? Would they set up anti-corruption tribunal that will make the trial of corruption cases fast or not?
There are issues with fiscal federalism; are you going to continue with the status quo or not? So, the manifestoes or programmes matter.
“So basically, all Nigerians are searching for somebody that can give them a conducive environment to thrive individually and to be able to thrive, we need power, good security, jobs and a government that will not lie to them”.
In his contribution, another political scholar at Edo State University Uzairue, Dr. Chris Oke said that there were lots of current issues, such as need for good leadership and unemployment that should influence the election.
“We have leaders who prioritize their ethnic group interest above the national interest. So we need a leader that will consider the feeling of every citizen of Nigeria. Not a sectional leader but a national leader.
“We need a leader that will turn the country from a consumer country to a productive one. We have been importing and we have not been producing and that is the reason for the economic troubles we have today.
We need a leader whose policy will attract industries so that our youths will have places to work upon graduation; we need a leader that will create jobs.
Above all, we need a leader that will unite Nigerians. At the moment the country is balkanized along ethnic and religious lines and there is no unity.
His colleague, Dr. Fred Ogbeide although all other contesting parties had their faults, the nation needs a leadership that would improve the current economic state of the county while also giving a listening ear to its citizens.
He stated that many Nigerians are finding it difficult to survive in view of the nose-diving economy in the country.
While identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates of the three leading political parties APC, PDP and Labour Party in the race for the presidential seat in the 2023 election, he said Nigerians must exercise caution is finding replacement for Buhari.
He, however, said that despite all of these issues, everyone should keep his fingers crossed and see what will happen by December or January, as by then people would be able to determine very well who they want to vote for.