Saturday, November 10, 2018
[email protected]
Ilisan, Ogun State, Nigeria

or the past two decades, Nigeria had consistently maintained an electioneering process that had produced officials ranging from Local Government Councilors, State Governors as well as the nation's president. In as much as these modest achievements of democratic governance are laudable, there are still herculean challenges that are still bedeviling the nation. These challenges which range from poor infrastructural facilities in Education, Health, Roads and Railways to issues bordering on national Security, needs a holistic approach for the nation to achieve an accelerated developmental growth in all areas.

Achieving accelerated development at all levels, entails electing leaders that are committed, intelligent, experienced, and humanitarian in their approach to governance. Nigerians therefore must again clearly discern and evaluate the candidates presenting themselves in all areas of the elections, most especially the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections coming up in February 2019

In situations where leaders might be unable to tackle challenges or may not have a clear vision or method of dealing with issues or problems facing the state or the nation, the capabilities and attributes of these leaders can only be discerned by the voters through probing and subjecting their rationality, through serious interrogations of their inner-most qualities.

In most cases, the Nigerian politicians present different scenarios to the voters. These gimmickry can be in the form of cash inducements, or vote buying, rigging, and substituting of names and out right disfranchisement of voters. Candidates that engage in the above maleficence, do not have any plan to provide service to their constituencies, except to recoup their investments through the state's or nation's treasury. In order to minimize or reduce these vicious tendencies that had inhibited the people from electing the right candidates, Nigerians must insist on televised state and national debates of candidates running for important elective offices such as the presidency or the gubernatorial elections.

To enable voters make choices that will enhance rapid national development, all candidates seeking elective offices in Nigeria, particularly that of the President and the Vice President, as well as the Governorship Aspirants and their Deputies, must subject themselves to at least three Debates each, and which will be televised across the nation. In the case of the Presidency, three Cities in each of the six geo-political zones of the country must be selected for the debates, and three other cities in the remaining six geo-political zones, that were not initially covered, by the Presidential debates will be undertaken by the vice presidential debates, for example the cities of Kano, Lagos and Enugu can be chosen for the debates of the presidency, while the cities of Port-Harcourt, Jos, and Maiduguri can be centers for the vice presidential debates.

As regards the state Governors, their three debates should take place in each of the Senatorial zones of their states. The Federal government should sponsor the Presidential and Vice President Debates, while state governments sponsor the Governorship and Deputy Governorship debates.

The importance of debates are varied, and subjecting candidates to serious debates exposes the intellectual capabilities of these candidates. Secondly, the ability to answer questions without prompting, as psychologist attest, portrays coherency and rationality of an individual. Governance is a huge responsibility that cannot be left in the hands of one who cannot take split second decisions.

A journey through memory lane in Nigeria's Presidential political campaigns shows instances where candidates lack knowledge of the ideology of their party, including party agenda or manifestoes. Political debates by candidates must therefore be inaugurated to enable the Presidential as well as Governorship Candidates to explain to Nigerians how they will create jobs, manage the resources of the states and nation. How they will source for funds to administer the nation or state if voted into power. These must therefore be the crux of these debates. The era of cap in hand or waiting for monthly allocations from the Niger Delta oil is fast coming to an end because future business trends in international political economy points to less future demands for oil. Candidates should therefore explain to Nigerians what business or income yielding mechanism they have successfully managed apart from political appointments.

Subjecting political candidates to state and national debates will expose candidate who do not have agenda, and will reduce imposition of candidates especially during party primaries.

Finally, whenever debates are scheduled, any political party candidate that did not show up, should be sanctioned by the voters, who should not waste their time casting votes for such individual. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must therefore look into the issue of debate in Nigerian elections in other to usher in an era of credible and innovative candidates that will drive the engine of the 21st century Nigerian nation.