By Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar
Alain Touraine- a French sociologist, in clarifying what democracy entails, concludes that it is a ‘free choice of leaders by the people’. Using Touraine’s view as an instance, the ground is slim for an argument (if any at all) that democracy is not the ideal form of government, considering its enormous opportunities for choice.
But, electorates’ hopes that any individual chosen for an elective office can deliver dividends of democracy in line with their needs and expectations have been repeatedly dashed by the existence of poor governance and misrepresentations evident from records of poor delivery of dividends of democracy by most occupants of such offices.
This means that free choice of leaders is not enough unless they translate to commensurable desired developments for the electorates, mainly through the provision of basic needs of life, quality and adequate infrastructures, economic growth and so on.
It’s disheartening that mostly, those elected get carried away by the regalia of political power; become sleepy on the duty of governance and disappointingly fail to show desired response abilities that come with such offices across all levels from the Presidency to ward councillorships. As evidence, this is seen in their inconsistent policies formulations, policies contradictions, ill-fated policies deviations and promises without fulfilment.
Away from that, while this piece is quick to accuse elected officials for lack of sincere will and woeful performances while in office, the electorates own the larger portion of the blame for their continued inclination to myopic choices of leaders, as well as their acceptance for continued manipulation by ill-minded politicians who share monies and other baits and find their way to elective office.
It’s a shocker, yet a reality, that the orientation of a typical Nigerian voter, most of whom are ignorant, swims in how financially loaded and lavishing is a political candidate. Little wonder, a serving minister of the Federal Republic, in a purported viral video, boasted as saying (in Hausa), ‘…we have enough money and resources and will use them to get what we want…’ The minister under reference implied votes buying.
He understands very well that the psyche of Nigerian voters is irresistible to politicians’ short-term flashing generosity that is mostly bankrolled by proceeds of corruption, which even Mr Minister under reference could hardly claim innocence.
The electorates should understand that commercialisation of politics carries underlying undesirable outcomes and is so irrational to complain of misgovernance and lack of significant development as is being witnessed. With few exceptions, evidence of decayed infrastructures, misgovernance and misrepresentation abound in many states and constituencies, respectively.
Niger State, for example, since 1999, when democracy was birthed, is still beset with serious underdevelopment, insignificant modern infrastructure, and zero industrialisation across its 25 local government areas. In spite of her strategic location with large federally connected road networks, there is yet very insignificant federal attention and presence.
It’s over 76,000 square kilometres landmass are largely arable, fertile and endowed with mineral resources, but the living condition of her population is not exalted. Outside the state civil service, which only accommodates very few individuals, the situation of most Nigerlites is pitiable.
In fact, the experience of a typical Nigerlite since democracy, from one dispensation to the other, is either that of a governor who was been ‘misinformed/lied to’ by certain appointees about projects not carried out because of inadequate monitoring, non-interest for feedbacks with little demand for accountability (if any) from such ‘trusted’ appointees; or of a governor who used oratorical prowess to his advantage rather than altruistic; or even of a governor who is presumed disposed to nepotism and ‘emi-lokan’ tendencies.
In the enlightened view of this piece, whether these assumptions are perceived or real, they are enough grounds for legitimate discontent by Nigerlites, having witnessed elements of good governance and effective public service delivery from certain state governments while no such or their equals are replicated in Niger state for 23 years of democracy and still counting.
So, it’s wise to conclude that even in a democracy, the choice is not enough; the best choice is rather the determinant for good governance and satisfactory delivery of dividends of democracy, as seen in Governor Umara Zulum of Borno State. It’s also wiser to understand as Nigerlites that we can only determine the best choice for Minna Government House in 2023 when we assess candidates using some preconditions as follows:
Character excellence: Character is an observable behaviour reflective an individual’s public conduct. A person who has a great worth of character shows self-discipline, integrity, ennobles candour and accountability. It also embodies the spirit to accommodate divergent views and public criticisms because they are critical to the makeup of a liberal democracy. Thus, those candidates who are easily allergic to views and public opinions do not deserve to be governor of Niger State.
Additionally, the seat of governance is characterised by multiple broad remits that often have timelines if dividends of democracy are to be adequately delivered, as is the case in Borno State; therefore, this best choice must be he/she who has a forward-looking and goal-setting spirit with the nerve to follow them through to reality. This means Competence and capacity.
In contradiction to the likely unrefined thinking of those vying to become governor of Niger State, it is much more than travelling with numerous convoys, irresponsible show of temporal political power and reckless spending of taxpayers’ monies.
Noteworthy, to identify this best choice with ease, Nigerlites must look at the antecedents of all governorship candidates from their character, an exhibition of competence and capacity, and employment of labour (of Nigerlites). Study their various social and economic projects of the past, considering the resources at their disposals, which must have been born with peoples’ needs
As a result, we must decouple ourselves from shallow assessments of these candidates’ antecedents and use clear conscience beyond party leanings for valid judgements in order to determine the best choice for the Niger State governorship seat.
Any candidate (male or female) who possesses these thorough assessments in the excellence of character, competence/capacity and antecedent is a governorship candidate with substance and, therefore, most deserving of our mandates to spearhead the affairs of the state from the 29th of May, 2023.
Muhammad Danjuma Abubakar, a concerned Nigerlite, lives in Minna, Niger State Capital and can be reached via email@example.com.