It is not a peculiar conundrum – many of my friends and associates are, like me, yet undecided. To be sure, this pondering is the exclusive preserve of a band of us who take ourselves way too seriously. Most of the voting population has made up its mind. Still, my one vote, that one decision, I insist on prizing highly.
We have a decidedly uninspired (not necessary uninspiring) field of candidates. Yes, people are passionate about many of them – but ask for the specifics and you are likely, like I have found, to draw a blank.
Let’s take the putative social media favourite – Buhari-Bakare – for instance. Sadly, I find their campaign standoffish and self-involved. I find that the two flagbearers make statements that don’t quite pan out with their reality. I also find it difficult to live with their inability – or unwillingness – to engage a wider field of interest groups and to engage the media on anything but their terms. However, a mentor recently made an eminently fine case for that ticket – it is the one ticket not beholden to any narrow or special interest. It is the one most uncomfortable with establishment, does not benefit from it, and is angry enough to actually restructure our politics so that it begins to benefit the people. Thus, tomorrow, I might hold my nose and jump on that radical train.
Then there is the president, Goodluck Jonathan – whom I had seriously considered voting for as early as October last year. He has opened up several democratic spaces in a way that has never been done before – opening up lines to civil society, youth, entertainment and the arts in a way that no other government has found important. He has actually brought government closer to the people without a fear of demystification. I find that thoroughly exciting. I am also privileged to have interviewed him recently, and I came off thoroughly impressed with him as a person: he revealed, in our off-record conversation, a man I would be comfortable with as a leader. Unfortunately, too many of his actions, from his refusal to attend the debates to the failure of any considerable power reform, have created too many doubts in my mind.
In addition, there is the matter of the PDP. Like I asked him, it does appear that his party is wired against change. I am as interested in who will be president as I am in the people around him. And I haven’t seen any willingness yet to rein those elements in. It worries me, and I will sleep tonight with that worry.
Three weeks ago, after his performance at the debates, Ibrahim Shekarau became my option, in principle. All I had left to convince me was to ask my friends who know Kano, the state he currently governs. The verdict is not good at all. The words don’t match the actions. Very sad. Very, very sad.
On Nuhu Ribadu, one line will suffice. I have listened to his interviews, his debates, and his other public statements – and I look forward to seeing Fola Adeola at the top of the ticket come 2015.
No candidate, of course, can be perfect. I know that, trust me. But of the four major candidates (going by polls and news commentary) the imperfections threaten to swallow their essence.
What is a young man to do come Saturday? I just might vote for Pat Utomi. He might have willingly taken himself out of the running, but perhaps I want to be able to sleep with the satisfaction of knowing that, strong candidate or not, I made the vote for the hand that I truly, honestly believe is the most capable of understanding the challenges of our complex nation, and following through with prescriptions that will set it aright. I still have 24 hours to decide. So, I suspect, do you.