The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, recently held their primaries. While the PDP recast its destiny with its current torchbearer, President Goodluck Jonathan, the APC chose a renowned former military general, Muhammadu Buhari, as its candidate.

From all indications, the February 2015 election would be the most watched and most hotly contested in the history of Nigeria. Every election is important, every single one of them! But a few, very few can be considered epoch-making. This is one of such elections, one of such events. The future of Nigeria will be determined by the action or inaction of the electorate in whom they vote for to become the next President of this Republic. The last epochal election was in 1979. Nigerians missed the boat and the country hasn’t been the same since.

When you think of the talents, resources and the promises and possibilities of this nation, you cannot but wonder how we got to this messy state. When you think of where this country was, you cannot but wonder how things got this bad. In spite of the dark years, 1967-1970, this was the doyen of the Black World – respected within and outside of the African continent. At the very least, Nigeria was in the company of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong – all marching towards economic prosperity.

In other words, Nigeria was part of the emerging nations many had hoped would, within five decades of independence, rub shoulders with the industrialised nations of the world. Two-and-half decades after the emergence of the Asian Tigers, Nigeria is nowhere to be found. A decade-and-half after the emergence of the Tiger Cub Economies (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand), Nigeria is still groping in the dark. Instead, the country is today characterised by all that is offensive about human nature.

Even as Nigerians troop to countries like the United Arab Emirates – especially Dubai, we forget that Dubai was nowhere near Nigeria during the country’s heyday. Five decades after independence, millions of us still go in search of what sane governments provide their people. In many parts of the world, our government is seen as foolish, inhumane, and incapable of good governance. The mindless drift must be abated!

Put aside your emotion and tell me what you think of Goodluck Jonathan in terms of being able to resolve many of the issues that plague this country. Again, put aside your emotion and tell me what you think of Muhammadu Buhari (also) in terms of our myriad national problems. Of the two, who do you suppose is capable of righting many of our wrongs? Your duty is to determine who is better suited for navigating a raging ocean with this chaotic ship called Nigeria. Promises, I must remind you, are not performance.

And so I must ask you this: In what ways have your life and the lives of your friends and family improved since 2010 when Jonathan assumed control of the Presidency? Is our fatherland better, or worse off in 2014 when compared to 2010?

Unemployment and underemploy-ment rate amongst higher education graduates is more than 35 per cent. Millions of Nigerians provide their own electricity, water, security and other goods and services the government should otherwise provide the people. For more than two years now, Boko Haram has made life difficult and unbearable in many parts of our beloved country. And where there is no Boko Haram, we have the Fulani herdsmen. Otherwise, it is armed robbers, kidnappers, assassins and political violence. If this Jonathan government is rejected at the polls come 2015, we the people will not miss it. Why miss something you didn’t have in the first place.

Put your emotion aside. Put ethnicity aside. Put religion aside. Put regional sentiments aside. Don’t pay attention to propaganda; but instead, be kind and be true to yourself and your children and future generations. Be true to our motherland, and be honest with yourself: Are you better off today? Can we do better? Shouldn’t we be doing better? Why would you want to continue living in a politically and economically filthy and debasing environment? Why?

Many of the problems we are faced with predate President Jonathan. But the fact is that many problems predate sitting presidents. But here is the problem: when a president is this indecisive and vacillates and panders to every powerhouse in the country, whatever problems he inherits, are likely to double or triple. What Jonathan should have done, he has not done; and the things he is doing are emboldening Boko Haram – and is also emboldening corrupt politicians, oil thieves, and all internal and external elements who are harming our national interest.

Jonathan is not a terrible human being, but he is not a good leader. He is not the right leader for this nation. Not now, not in 2015 and beyond! You don’t have to be the most intelligent person to make a good leader, but you must be smart and curious and steady and have a good sense of self. And you must surround yourself with intelligent people with an abundance of courage and vision. Under Jonathan, our institutions are collapsing at a faster rate. The elite continue to steal knowing there would be no penalties but national honour for them; and the country continues to drift. Is this the kind of country you want to grow old in?

And so as you think about the 2015 elections, may you be guided by the love of country; may your actions be guided by the love of your brothers and sisters and their children. As we get closer and closer to Election Day 2015, may you take the lives of your children and grandchildren into consideration; and may you know that it is your responsibility to bequeath them a better country and a better world.

And know this, too: Across civilisations, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” In this instance, voting is planting a tree! You would be helping to build a great society if you vote in ways that protect, not only your interest, but the interest and well-being of generations yet unborn. A vote for the status quo would be akin to chopping down trees. Therefore, as you think about the 2015 elections, do not think about inducements or what they call “stomach infrastructure”; instead, think about what should have been and what should be. Think about your legacy. Do the right thing: Vote performance, not promises!

Copyright PUNCH.


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