‘Vote for Me: I had no shoes’

by ‘Demola Adesina

As the current United States President, Barack Obama begins his campaign for re-election in 2012, there are strong indicators that he may not wield as much influence as he did in 2008. Obama taught the American people to demand for change, and now, a lot of them are demanding for it from their president.

We may not all agree with the socialist country Obama is trying to build, but we will agree that the man has pushed that lofty American ideal of democracy and the choice of the people much more than any recent American president. Because of Mr Obama, more and more people around the world have believed that they can demand for more responsible government and that the power to install that government is in their hands.

Perhaps as a result, from Cuba to Egypt, many citizens have worked on actualising change in their countries. Without razing Afghanistan or bombing Iraq, the Obama appeal is setting up responsible leadership in these countries.

And Nigeria is not left out.

More than ever before, Nigerians are conscious of their desire for responsible government in these elections and are doing a lot to see it happen. Our politicians also show the influence of the 2008 US elections with their presence on social media, continuous speaking about their plans and their adoption of a campaign tagline.

Perhaps awed by the influence of Obama’s, ‘Change you can believe in’ tagline, most of our politicians have taglines used uniformly in their campaign. But that is where the similarity ends. Unlike the Obama tagline which is a careful choice that defines the politician’s purpose for contesting, it seems our politicians just pick up the nearest random word.

Mrs Remi Tinubu’s campaign often touted the word, ‘Liberation’. Looking at her many billboards gave me many headaches, as I wondered what exactly she plans to liberate residents of Lagos Central from. First ‘liberation’ suggests a certain form of bondage. Assuming I was hitherto oblivious of the chains on Lagosians, I wonder, if she trying to liberate us from the machinery of her political party which has held the seat since 1999. I also assume she insinuates that the office of the Senator is influential enough to cast these chains of bondage into Hades.

In Ogun State, Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, PPN Gubernatorial Candidate and Stooge of incumbent, Otunba Gbenga Daniel is campaigning with the tagline: ‘Igbala de’, which translates to: Salvation arrives! Again, salvation here implies a freedom from bondage. Is GNI implying that the government – which he was a part of and on whose machinery he is contesting – enslaved Ogun State citizens?

For the past few years Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang has always been in the news, usually not for the right reasons. Imagine my shock when I saw him offer himself for re-election, worse still, with the ‘Transformation’ tagline. Is he trying to tell his people he is transformed or he is saying he wants to transform Plateau – a state he has been quite unable to control and govern these years?

And, now is not even the time to discuss President-elect Goodluck Jonathan’s ‘Goodluck to Nigerians’. It just sounded like he was saying: ‘I cannot guarantee good governance or responsible leadership but I can wish Nigeria good luck’.

True, campaigns for these elections have probably been more ‘ideology-based’ than for any other elections we’ve had in Nigeria. Nevertheless, a lot more thinking can be done by our politicians. They need to go beyond just believing they can rule, to planning on how they intend to rule.

You see, the electorate will be much more matured in 2015. Then, we will not care if you didn’t have shoes as a child, or almost prosecuted two people as EFCC chairman or even published Nigeria’s first celebrity magazine. Then, we will expect you to articulately show us your blueprint and how you realistically expect it to work. In short, we will expect you to have grown beyond the level of political and administrative proficiency at which the much-loved Governor Fashola of Lagos State currently is.

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