It is indisputable that a general election will take place in the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2023 to elect the President, Governors, Members of the National and State assemblies that will govern the country for four years from 2023 to 2027.
Already those interested in running for these elective positions are gearing, preparing, strategizing on how to sell their manifestos, programs, and credentials to the electorate.
Matters will likely reach a crescendo or a climax in the second quarter of the year by June 2022, when political parties will hold a primary election to nominate candidates they sponsor to contest the various offices.
By 2023, Nigeria would have practiced democracy for almost a quarter of the century.
The practice of democracy for such a long time is unprecedented in a country with a blighted record of military coups, military regimes, and dictatorship.
Undoubtedly this is the longest period the country has practiced democracy since independence in 1960.
In 1999, the country came into its governance by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as the dominant political party that dominated political governance for 16 years before it lost power to the All Progressives Congress, APC in 2015.
I want to see a paradigm shift, a generational shift in the country’s leadership. The country must move from a semi-democracy to a genuine one driven by politics of service, constitutionalism, and the rule of law, not prebendalism and cronyism. Young and selfless people competent, visionary, progressive, and God-fearing must take the driving seat in the country’s political leadership.
An election is a process that doesn’t start and end with the general election. The process of selection of leadership starts with the primary election, where candidates that will fly the flags of political parties that are competent to sponsor candidates would be nominated and given tickets to participate in the general election.
So primary elections are conditions precedent to the general election. If we want to get good leadership, we must all take an interest in the selection of candidates by each political party. We must ensure that political parties open up the process for selecting candidates and make it inclusive, fair, and transparent as much as possible.
Every aspirant desirous of contesting the primary election must be given the opportunity. He should not be shut because some political oligarch or godfathers do not like his guts or consider him too independent-minded or confident, or he is not a lackey or crony or protege of an oligarch. Aspirants that do not have money to throw around should not also be shut. No account should throw away good people simply because they do not have money to throw around.
Politics of chop, chop must end. It has taken us anywhere. We cannot continue to live momentarily. Let us live futuristically.
It should be clear to us by now that those who use the money to hijack the election process will want to recoup what they invested when they become elective leaders.
We must allow those who have made money from illicit processes to hijack the process by throwing their ill-gotten wealth to buy the conscience of party members. Party members should allow their conscience to judge them. They should not just collect money under the guise of hunger and do the wrong thing. Young people should not allow themselves to be used as cannon fodders by wicked and mindless politicians to cause mayhem on Election Day. We want politics driven by intellectualism and ideas, not might is right.
It calls for vigilance on the part of every one of us. Young people should take it upon themselves to monitor the process and constitute themselves to watchdogs. Young people must be in the vanguard for this paradigm shift because, in every society, the young are virile, fresh, energetic, and always drive any change plan.
Otherwise, if the process fails, the young will be at the blunt.
The young people must ensure that the political parties get it right in the selection process. The young must come too and aspire for elective offices they consider eligible to contest.