“In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation.”
As the campaign around the 2019 general election builds up, it is expected that campaigners will fiercely debate on issues of corruption in Nigeria and the possible strategies they’ll employ to tackle it. Opposition candidates will provide best of comparative strategies in comparison with the incumbent government – and even cite examples of lopsidedness, witch hunt, nepotism, etc. on the part of the incumbent administration. Also, the incumbent government will lay bare progress analysis of their anti-corruption “gains” and how this helped to minimize monumental losses. Conversations on how the incumbent ostensibly embarked on the prudent economic management of Nigeria’s limited resources, alongside increased the country’s foreign reserves –despite a downturn in revenues – as compared to previous administrations. Emphasis on landmark court rulings secured in the life of the current administration will not be left out – they may even praise themselves for securing such rulings and in the same breathe lambast the judiciary for “arm-twisting” unfavourable rulings and its supposed inadequacies in fighting corruption. The “indictment” of the National Assembly on its alleged role in frustrating the anti-corruption war will not be spared. From both side of the divide, many of these issues, as it relates to the anti-corruption war will be the highlight of the 2019 elections.
With a league of gap-truth politicians unleashed on the electorates, the 2019 election contest will see opposition candidates and political parties brand imaginations as manifestoes, as the incumbents’ package mediocrity as excellence. The language of fairness will be replaced with flares of calumny: This will be one of the fiercest campaigns on corruption this county has ever seen. One thing to note is that all these campaign shenanigans will not be the substance, as they’re mere distractions. In the final analysis, the pedigree of the group and individuals concerned will be of utmost importance.
There will be so many strange campaign promises and slogans, but a campaign that focuses on the genuine desire to tackle and defeat the menace of corruption will not be one of them. Political aspirants/candidates riding on the back of the anti-corruption movement is as old as the country’s independence. It’s nothing new… It is one of the oldest campaign lines not just peculiar to politicians, but to military juntas as well – as corruption more often than not solely accounted for their reasons for taking over power. So expectedly, this will be a wave of a perceived renewed vigour in fighting corruption that will be more imaginary than actual. As much as there’d be genuine campaigns and strategies on tackling the issue of corruption head-on, there’ll also be campaigns of illusions and deceit. It will be a wave of distractions and of propaganda, reeling out nonexistent strategies to defeat corruption when they attain power or when they are (re)elected into office. The difference will be based on the individual or group concerned.
The reality of the difference for the next four years will be on election days in 2019. If we get it wrong at the point of electing new leaders, we’ll be expending so much energy and resources when the government is sworn in, and in many ways, this afterthought approach has contributed to the bane of Nigeria’s development since independence. We tend to react to issues rather than to be proactive. In the grand scheme of things, our votes in every election cycle and particularly in 2019 will be one of the most proactive measures; we as citizens must take in this anti-corruption war and in the survival of our Nation. What this means in simple terms is that, in our vote lies the power to prevent the next generation of treasury looters from gaining access to the national purse, in our vote lies the power to cut short the aspirations of serial human right abusers, and as a matter of fact, we can with our votes prevent silly persons from attaining political power. We must take responsibility, because, looking at our elections retrospectively, it is safe to assume that a greater percentage of the electorates do not properly understand the power of their votes, because if we did, there will be few occurrences of votes buying, or the facilitation of stomach infrastructure initiatives on polling days, and violent schemes of ballot box snatching, as the electorates will unite and rise against these ills. This is the gap that desperate politicians have explored over the years and have unduly perpetuated themselves in power as lords of an empire, and they go a step further by ruling like autocrats and oligarchs because they know that the gaps still exist to explore and be exploited – to the disadvantage of the country at large. This needs to change.
The fate of the Nation’s anti-corruption war will greatly depend on the antecedents of the candidates and party set-up, and not necessarily in their promises: In their records of service – whether in private or public capacity. Some fundamental questions electorates must ponder on are; “how did these candidates fare in positions of authority, either in the private or public led sectors? What is the extent and nature of their wealth: are they traceable or miraculously amassed? There is a high chance that they will be driven by the same philosophies that have guided their dignity/criminality as they lead in a position of authority. Make no mistake, change is not automatic, and the idea that their stewardship will not matter as they’d probably be changed individuals is deluded. Why this is more important is that the success and failure of the anti-corruption war aren’t usually decided when a government is sworn into power, it will not even entirely be decided by the policies of the government in power, it’ll rather be greatly decided on the day of the election. So as electorates troop to their various polling units to cast their vote, it will not only be a vote cast for the candidates/parties of their choice, it will be a vote cast in favour or against their future; the survival of the anti-corruption war and the country at large, as this will greatly hang on the shoulders of the individuals they pitch their tent with on election day. Such is the significance of this singular moment that it calls for deeper reflection of the choices we must undertake to either make or mar our destiny as a Nation. The profoundness of this in our national life is greatly captured in the words of a great thinker and proponent of human liberation, Frantz Fanon as he succinctly puts it when he stated that ‘‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.’’
This generation cannot afford to continue to make similar mistakes of the past. Many of the challenges we have faced as citizens, and the precarious position that the country finds itself today is a direct consequence of our electoral decisions over the years.
At the forefront of the anti-corruption campaign, as youths, as electorates and citizens, the fate of the anti-corruption war lies greatly with us – as the choices, we’ll make in 2019 will either position us to betray or fulfil destiny. We must rise above hate and the euphoria that comes with these political moments and be constantly reminded that our great country’s destiny will be – as it relates to the anti-corruption war (whose success is sacrosanct to the advancement of our nation) – greatly dependent of the choices we’ll make come Election Day in 2019.
Michael Agada is a Program Assistant for Accountability and Justice with YIAGA Africa. He’s an undaunted believer in Democracy good governance and an advocate of youth participation in governance process. He tweets from @MichaelAgada on twitter.