"You can no longer see or identify yourself solely as a member of a tribe, but as a citizen of a nation working towards a common purpose"
- Idowu Koyenikan
s we barrel towards the presidential elections jamboree, the usual cohorts are forming. Kingmakers and foot soldiers alike are trotting out all types of candidates - young, old, women, ethnic, thieves, and everything in between. In the spirit of 'out with the old and in with the new,' some argue that fresh candidates who are unsullied by political corruption, will bring new insight and innovative solutions to Nigeria's challenges. Others believe experience would bring stability. So, what if the candidate was indicted by the EFCC? Well, the devil you know… Not to be left out, the current administration vows to bring about transformation in its second go around.
Still others evaluate candidates based on who would pay highest for their votes - N20,000 vs. a bag of rice? And the more ambitious are renting themselves out as thugs, bank robbers and even assassins to help dispose of the opposition.
One factor ties these disparate groups - the faith that one person in the office of president, will transform Nigeria. You can almost hear them chanting, "behold the president who takes away all the problems of Nigeria!" This misconception results in the hunt for Nigeria's messiah and its inevitable disenchantment. No president can solve all of Nigeria's problems. They are multifaceted and systemic therefore so must the solutions be that we implement to address them.
- Focus on all levels of government particularly the closest to you - Local Government Officials, State Officials, Representatives, and Senators. They are more in touch with your problems and have enough to make improvements should they choose to do so. Remember, Fashola did not get support from the Federal Government to transform Lagos and he did more than Amaechi who got support.
- Educate yourself on the candidates running for office so you can choose wisely.
- Choose persons of character who have leadership skills including compassion, vision, courage, clarity, communication, crisis management, and level-headedness.
- Find candidates who have a handle on the issues: Energy, Security, Economy, Employment, Infrastructure, Education, Corruption, etc. Let's stop electing the 'baddest thugs' or the biggest bribers. Support candidates who actually have functioning brain boxes.
- Organize around issues you care about - security, energy or the economy and support candidates who share your ideology. Be an active agent for progress.
Whatever you do and whichever candidate you support, don't think any president will solve all of Nigeria's problems. Think instead that a president can provide a stable enough environment where citizens like you and I, can solve Nigeria's problems.