By Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani
Ahead of the 2023 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has set 28th September 2022 as the date of the kick-off of the campaign for Presidential and National Assembly elections, while that of Governorship and State Assembly is on 12th October 2022.
You may be confused about one thing or two, especially when I said the political campaign’s dos and don’ts. Some people may not have understood it. This is highly likely. But, of course, there are limits, and there is a red line that shouldn’t be crossed. There are things that politicians shouldn’t do in the name of electioneering.
Now that you know, there are things politicians should not do to sell their candidature to the electorate. You will like to know what those things are. Relax. In the course of this piece, I will attempt to treat it. As Nigerians, we are fully aware of what an average political campaign season looks like. It goes with so many things that some of us might have thought are normal everywhere. But it isn’t. Once again, what are they? Political thuggery, mudslinging, killings, hate speech, etc.
While electioneering isn’t a tea party, it doesn’t have to be as nasty as it is in this part of the world. It takes all of us to reduce the toxic messages: from our places of worship, markets, schools, offices, parks, halls, farms, etc. This is everyone’s business. We must be involved. We have to work collectively to help our dear states and the nation. We can only build this country under this dispensation by encouraging democratic conventions and not unacceptable practices to win or rig the election.
Rig the election? I think this horrible phenomenon continues to rear its ugly head because many of our institutions are so weak, especially the critical ones that can put a stop to it. Unfortunately, in so many instances, they abet it, leading to many terrible results over the years.
You will be increasingly sought-after during the electoral campaign to hatch out different plans. This is the time when there will be a multitude of recruitment. No, not in the civil service. But the thriving political industries need the strength and pep of youth to propel them. It is saddening to note that many youths will be required not on the dignified and visionary side but at the disdainable and thuggish position, where their youthful energy will be wrongly channelled to the despicable social oddity of thuggery. This trend has led to the horrible end of countless youth over the years.
It is discernible that politics is much maligned and detested owing to the celebration of thuggery, cultism, and immorality in many quarters. All these have discouraged many Nigerians from joining politics or exercising their franchise without necessarily being card-carrying party members. This has, over the years, aided in robbing Nigeria of some of its best brains in politics, a large swathe of its patriotic citizens, and a considerable number of Nigerians who believe in this country. My compatriots, we must change the narrative. We have to stand up and fight against any negative energy that permeates the polity: for the sake of our country.
Am I advocating against joining politics? Definitely, no. But join politics as a decent, respectable, and patriotic participator, no matter how ‘insignificant’ your position is. In this way, your wit and vigour will be put into effect. Draw a line once your only place is a thug or any role that diminishes you or any other person.
Value yourself and do only what is legal and aids your personal growth and collective development of society. Do not allow yourself to be used as a tool to destroy your future for a meal ticket. Be wise. You are as good as anyone else when you work hard sufficiently.
The campaign season has been known to be a tense moment worldwide. This is not peculiar to Taraba or even Nigeria. However, political campaigns are usually anxious for the right reasons in saner climes, with each candidate coming up with competing ideas and plans forming the fulcrum of their manifesto. Therefore, it is anticipated that heated discussion will be a standard feature. But in most instances, the issues take centre stage. Therefore, there will be no need to recruit an array of youth to be engaged in thuggery to win elections.
Over the years, we have seen how the tone of the candidates’ political campaigns has played a significant role in the level of violence witnessed before or after elections. Therefore, we must be deliberate in deciding our fate by categorically saying no to election violence, whether as candidates or electorate.
We need to suffocate the polity from getting the stimulus of violence from the youth that has kept it going. We are sure of sanitizing the system. As more people are interested in politics, much more good and patriotic Nigerians will line up. It is a win-win situation for Nigeria. This will give us a better opportunity to choose good leaders to build the Nigeria of our dreams.
Abdulrazak Iliyasu Sansani wrote from Turaki B, Jalingo, Taraba State. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.