Competent Candidates with Character Please!

Nwachukwu Egbunike

“Give me a lever long enough, a fulcrum strong enough and I’ll move the world” – Archimedes

While the ping-pong on the 2011 general elections continues, is it not nauseating that critical questions are not addressed while the preposterous are indecently embroidered? The dominant spice in the nation’s political soup has been to zone or not to zone. Zoning has become a myth peddled as fact. A recent poll by NOI debunks this falsehood: 38% thought that a politician’s competence mattered most. Just 2% considered ethnicity as criterion for electing a candidate.

Unfortunately, the chefs intend to serve a highly constipating diet – incompetent candidates, without honour. Can it be that in a country with 150 million people, a decade into the 21st century, we are so impoverished of ideas? That while other members of the global community head on the slope of resolving issues, we are still held captive by dishonourable politicians? Why in heaven’s name should the PDP make ethnicity the crux of nominating her presidential candidate?

The recent mid-term elections in US saw the Republicans “shellacking” the Democrats out of Congress. Even with a charismatic Obama – Americans made it clear that they really want a change. While I have no intention of peering into the intricacies of this ‘change’, one thing is certain: the voters had their way while politicians had their say. At least, the Democrats did not rig their way through with their ‘power of incumbency’ nor did the voters reject them based on the race of the present occupant of the White House. They only voted either to protest or for those who they think can solve their complex national algebra.

Sadly enough, in Nigeria, the opposite is just the case. Those who intend to rule us have no agenda. They mouth oft-recycled electoral promises. It is obvious that their only love lies in the looting of the public till. The political parties – PDP, ACN or ANPP – are no different save for their names. They all lack any distinct ideology but only similar in their insatiable appetite for power. Once power is grabbed, every other good thing comes. If the parties are no different, who will expect our politicians to take any other hue?

In this depressing clime, something refreshing happened weeks ago: citizens took to the streets to demand their rights to determine who leads them. Nigerians are coming round to see that politics is too serious a business to be left in the hands of politicians alone. It’s time for Nigerians to say no to continual insult of our collective ego. Our votes must count in 2011 and enough of recycled agadi’s (old men) who are both spent and shamed.

It is not enough to hurl insults on the ‘god fathers and mothers’ from the safety of one’s sitting room; or more pitiably at newsstands or in bars, when high on liquor. We have to actively make our votes count this time around. Nigerians seem to have an annoying capacity to docilely accept all forms of injustice. Voting is no privilege but a right. A right we have to exercise and protect in 2011.

We must participate – from the voters’ registration to the collation of votes at the polling centres. Besides it was done in 1993 and we can do it again. If IBB really craves for Aso Rock, then let him plead for votes and not ethnic sympathies. Enough of all this illogical zoning nonsense!

Archimedes asked for lever and fulcrum to move the world; I only seek credible candidates and courageous voters who will ensure that their votes count!


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