By Classics Oteri
Joseph De Maistre said “In a democracy, the people end up with the government and leaders they deserve” (paraphrased).
The Governorship and the State Houses of election is getting closer every day. No doubt, it’s another golden opportunity for us to exercise our rights as citizens of this great country. It is believed that there is no better way to have your say in what is going on in the country than now. We must as a matter of fact ask candidates vying for various positions on when and how they intend to achieve their bogus promises.
It is now very necessary for our youths, traditional leaders, Royal Fathers, women leaders, physically challenged and other interest groups to ask candidates to categorically and specifically state what they want to do before we rush to endorse them. I was told that even Donald Trump had to document it. I am saying this because over time, we have been cajoled by most of our politicians who use general statements to solicit votes.
Most times, these statements are used to fool the electorate. We see or hear them say; “vote for accountability”, “Vote for Transparency”, ,”Vote for Progress”, “Vote for Good Governance”, or “Vote for Good Health” etc. There are really no bases on the level of delivery of these areas unless they give us specifics and breakdown in their manifestoes on what and how they intend to do.
In modern day politics, leaders who really want to serve their people are suppose to do their research and pinpoint key areas as regards the aspirations of the people before declaring to contest. We have been fooled long enough! Bob Marley said, “You can fool the people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” We can’t afford to be fooled again.
Please we can’t continue to cry and complain when we know the right thing to do. A popular saying has it that “it is madness to continue to do the same thing and expect different result.”
When politicians come for endorsement, let us look inward and tell them what we want. Then, if they agreed, we would now know if we are to endorse them. The power actually resides with the people and not the other way round. We must look beyond money, food and drinks that would be shared to lure the electorate.
Politics of stomach is the biggest problem we have today in the country. This is reflecting in our level of poor infrastructural development. In spite of the huge amount of money being made, especially from the Niger Delta, not much is seen in the area. We eat what make us cry later. We must look beyond the stomach and resist the temptation this time around. We must summon courage to tell our politicians that our votes are not for sale.
We, the electorate are very important to our politicians now. I don’t like to say this but it is a tradition in Nigeria that when politicians are seeking for elective positions, you see them smiling and waving to the people while campaigning. Sometimes, they go on their knees. After they had won they go about in tinted vehicles, till another four years. At least, we should have known most of them by now from their political antecedents. They must not get our votes cheaply. I urge you as you go to your polling booth this Saturday; please discourage any form of vote buying. We must shine our eyes this time around. Let me use this opportunity to tell the enlightened ones that it is their responsibility to educate other electorate on voting. It is a task we must not shy away from because this is the time to get it right. Te day we start to vote wisely, is the day we would start to enjoy true dividends of democracy in Nigeria.
Comrade Classics Oteri
Oteri is the Coordinator, Niger Delta Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Network (NEED) and he writes from Warri, Delta State.