AbdulMalik Akinyemi's Journal (Book, Books, Book review, Book reviews, Book Review PDF, Review PDF)

Who Should We Vote For in 2023?

In 2015, the people of Nigeria supplanted the high and mighty PDP in what seemed like an impossible turn of event. In our desperate quest for a better Nigeria, we gambled on the change offered by the APC in the person of president Muhammad Buhari (a credible alternative to former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who -by virtue of his party- was deeemed unworthy of a second tenure). The result is a naira that is doing backwardly well vis-a-vis the dollar; insecurity that has risen to a fearsome crescendo, and an impressive 173.2% increase in national debt. Now, all we can do is to rely on hope, which is in itself a victim of corruption that has gathered momentum over the years. Come 2023, one could safely assume that we are going to cast our votes en masse, just like we did in 2015. In whose favour do we roll the dice?

Virtually everyone in Nigeria has a personal reason to oust president Muhammad Buhari. But we all know that won't happen until 2023, in which case it won't be considered an ouster but an honorable discharge after 8 years of service. The fight is therefore with the APC. And judging by what happened during the endsars protest, Nigerians will be more than willing to enter the ring; however, it would be naive to conclude that they would roll over like the PDP. 

The intent here is not to downplay other parties, but the political game in Nigeria is played between the APC and the PDP. In fact, one could say that the onus is now on the PDP to provide the better candidate. Except maybe some political parties coalesce and form a bond strong enough to challenge their hegemony. To that end, senator Rochas Okorocha, in January, called for a political alliance between the "good" leaders of like minds in APC and PDP; Atiku got endorsed by 17 different political parties, which means he hasn't yet given up on his political ambitions (despite the turbulence that surrounds the shift of power to the south). Other opposition political groups and stakeholders have also regrouped under the aegis of the National Consultative Front, NCF, to displace the APC and the PDP. At this juncture, you'd agree with me that the merger schtick is getting quite boring. 

Now, the right questions are: With the way the PDP are working their sleight of hands, cleverly throwing their inadequacies in our blindspots; and with the power the APC currently wields, do other parties even have the slightest chance? Even if a coalition is able to oust the APC and the PDP, who are the people that will be its members? Allegiances live and die on the tongues of our politicians; won't another Femi Fani Kayode wake up tomorrow, having received divine inspiration, and switch sides? Moreover, APC was the result of a coalition; are we not bound to get more of the same thing?

Regardless of what the answers might be, one thing we can all agree on is the need to keep politicians and political parties in check. The only way to do that is to exercise our democratic rights to the fullest and flip electoral scripts to our advantage. We need to erase the notion that our votes don't count (If they don't, why did politicians resort to buying votes in the first place?) In that case, it would be preemptive to look beyond the APC and the PDP to get our problems solved; for they have proved to us time and time again that, more than Nigeria, they need the reform.

This, however, should not be seen as a fight against the APC or the PDP; rather, it should be seen as a necessary step towards long-lasting accountability and political reform. In that sense, who to vote for should be a function of personality; nothing more. Tribal and religious bigotry is a bane and should be seen as such in this dispensation. For once, we need to forget about breaking apart and focus on what keeps us together - Nigeria, for that is the only way we can survive in a meaningful way.

I know a lot of people would like a topple in the current political trend that replaces old men with youths. But despite the growing evidence of youth activism and the achievements of the older generation youths, Nigerian youths have yet to achieve that level of inclusion required to gain representation in politics. Perhaps that's because the "old people" see us better as political thugs and not competitors. Or because the youths are naturally disenfranchised, from what I can tell. So, the idea of a youth becoming the president is not what I will bank on (at least not in 2023). Without being ageist, the generation x (41-56 years old), more than any other age group, deserves that chance. Then, the onus will be on "that person" to give the youth the pride of place in politics.

Regardless of the choice, the main thing is just to remember that electing corrupt politicians will only make us accomplices and not victims. We can't afford to be irresponsible at this stage.

Lastly, with the way politics is being played in the country, one might term all these "building castles in the air." But it is also imperative to note that no one knows the outcome of an election that has not yet been conducted. Now is not the time to be fazed. After all, whether we can assert our rights or not, there is only one way to find out. 

Read Also: Nigerians are being played yet again

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