By Hassan Umar Shallpella
Democracy is a government of the people by the people and for someone to become victorious at the polls is determined by the highest number of votes scored at the polls and as well meeting all the requirements prescribed by electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that governed such Election. Nigeria is one of the populace country in Africa and has tested both the military and civilian regimes since independence in 1960. However, the country had uninterrupted civilian regime without the intrusion by the military for the past nineteen years now.
The year 2018 will be full of activities, one of which is Political activities because electorates in Nigeria have started warming up in readiness for 2019 general elections. The political atmosphere in Nigeria has change as strategic places in the state capitals and some major towns and cities across the country have been decorated with posters of politicians who had indicated their interest to vie for President and Governorship seats, Members of the State or National Assemblies in the 2019 general elections in Nigeria. There are two categories of contenders, the old and the new comers.
Some of the aspirants who are currently occupying elective positions and want to remain in power fall within the category of old politicians while the new entrance are those wanting to unseat those in power can said to be new comers. Because nobody heard about some of them until now. One amazing thing is that posters of some of the first timers has no political party logo or flag they belong to despite the released of additional 21 newly Registered Political Parties by the electoral umpire (INEC), thus bringing the number of registered political parties in the country to 67.
This development also brings about the emergence of political pressure groups mostly constituted by jobless youths who works tirelessly to ensure that their candidates are victorious not only as a flag bearer of the party but even during the general elections. These pressure groups were mainly sponsored indirectly by either the aspirant himself or friends of the aspirant who operate behind the scene. For now any gatherings either political or otherwise, the presence of these pressure groups will be notice through their symbolic appearance.
The scenario also paves way for the Artists and printers to get more patronage as aspirants scramble to print their posters, fliers, T-shirt, Caps and other materials with their pictures on them and other campaign messages for distribution to their constituents and beyond so that they could be easily recognized and their messages passed across before the elections. The circulation of these items also seen as another campaign ploy to woo voters.
Another set of people who are expected to reap from the pockets of the political office seekers are the so-called Mallams, Pastors and Soothsayers whom some of the politicians regarded them as semi-god by believing whole heartily what they told them. The politicians consult them so as to know their chances of winning the election and if the prediction goes contrary to what is in the mind of a candidate, he/she would be asked to pay large sums of money so that miracles can be perform to counter any obstacle of winning the election.
Some of the candidates can only be seen in their localities during electioneering campaign and disappear after elections because they are not residing there, but only appear at times like this thereby making it difficult for them to comprehend the plight of the people they hope to represent when elected. This attitude exhibited by some politicians created barrier between them and the electorates as majority of voters would not set eye on them until another round of elections and their appearance is to distribute presents to electorates. Some of the elected representatives who are hopeful to retain their seats are busy distributing assorted items to their electorates in the name of empowerment, while the new comers are also doing the same under the guise of humanitarian assistance.
Another thing that baffles me is where are these politicians since the last general elections which was held in Nigeria in 2015 because the lucky beneficiaries of empowerment and humanitarian assistance have been leaving in abject poverty with the knowledge of these politicians without care for them only to turn now to bless them with some worldly materials because they are seeking their mandate in disguise.
Time has come for the electorates to shine their eyes before the Election Day and cast their votes to those who had performed in the preceding years, while in the case of new comers their background has to be scrutinize to authentic their capability of occupying the position they are vying for. This is the only way democracy can prosper in the country and the electorate will feel the impact of government.
What will make 2019 general elections different from previous elections held in the country is the highest number of registered political parties; it is now incumbent on those vying positions to educate their supporters on the logos of their political party as logos of some political parties may look alike with the registration of new parties. While, INEC on its part should intensify enlightenment campaign on the pattern of voting months before the actual day of the elections, early preparation towards facing the challenges of 2019 general elections will ensure hitch free elections devoid of any complain which may halt any litigation by aggrieved candidate or a political party.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) also as usual should start enlighten eligible voters on what is expected of them before, during and after the elections. Voters need to be educated on the mode of voting considering the number of political parties that will fill candidates for the contest. Voters also need to be educated on the penalties that await anyone that cause chaos before, during and after the elections so that democracy would continue to be nurture in Nigeria.