I have read a lot of reactions coming in the wake of former Vice president, Atiku Abubakar’s emergence as the PDP’s presidential candidate and have equally watched unprecedented re-alignment of political forces and alliances that followed. Similarly, have I seen varied opinions on what credible threat he poses to president Buhari’s second term ambition while some others dismiss such with a simple wave of the hand – banking on how Nigerians have suddenly become more politically ‘enlightened and savvy’?
As a student of contemporary history, however, I posit that the Atiku phenomenon is not dismissed just like that but be carefully handled and contained if project PMB is not derailed or undermined come 2019. Already I can observe how a lot of commentaries seem to be exaggerating the so-called new-found ‘sophistication’ and ‘enlightenment’ of the general masses and their willingness to act ‘rationally’ during polls.
Unfortunately, however, global trends and recent experiences show that the pattern of election victories now tilt more in the direction of “sentiments” and “prejudices” rather than on common sense and rationality.
The fact that Senator dancer, Adeleke could win the Osun first round of elections against many better-qualified candidates should be highly instructive on what motivates voters in this age. President Trump’s election in the US against the much favoured Hilary Clinton also gives us another lesson on the dynamics of election and electioneering campaign in this era.
Let no one be surprised at all that, given the prevailing challenging economic situation in our country, a lot of people would not mind selling their votes again come 2019 to take care of their stomach first – while trusting tomorrow to take care of itself.
Therefore we must not leave anything to chance but be highly dedicated, relentless and business-like in the battle ahead. Our efforts on increased citizens’ awareness, advocacy and mobilisation must be doubled. We must help enlighten our people – especially the masses on why they must continue to support the “Change agenda” despite the temporary pains being experienced.
And also let them know that while the opposition may lure them with paltry gains in the immediate, the consequences for the future when these people get to power could be unimaginable given their antecedents.
In doing the above, however, we must raise the bar of discourse and not recourse to base language and tactics like the opposition is wont to. The campaign strategy should be issue-based and devoid of needless attacks on the person of Atiku.
Doing otherwise, we risk unwittingly helping him to amass a pool of ill-informed sympathizers who may begin to see him as a victim rather than a bad product for who he actually is. Let the numerous remarkable achievements of PMB hitherto unknown be the high points of the campaign backed up with verifiable empirical evidence.
Let us have “enough real-time pictures and video documentaries” on ongoing infrastructural projects as well as completed ones. Let’s have documented live testimonials of people whose lives have been touched by the laudable programmes and projects.
Let’s have clearer elaborations of what government is doing and intends to do in the immediate future to further make life easy for our people. Let there be in this remaining short period, a consumate account of stewardship on how the administration has utilised the resources available to it and ditto for the proceeds from the anti-corruption efforts.
Finally, like the vultures, jackals and hyenas massively gather their forces for what they perceive as their final battle for survival, let us not despair but be resolute and focussed. Indeed we know that for those with skeletons in their cupboard, the reality of a successful PMB’s reelection bid in 2019 is indeed scary – and that is exactly what we must all ensure happens in 2019.
May God help us!
By Oludare Jaji, who wrote in from Lagos