VOTES FOR SERVICE: Understanding Why You Need To Vote With Your Head And Not Your Heart By Ishola Ayodele
If you are a lover of truth, I will tell you this bitter truth you can take to the bank. Most politicians in Nigeria don’t care about a Muslim-Muslim, Christian-Christian, Christian-Muslim, or Muslim-Christian ticket and certainly do not have a sleepless night because of the high cost of living or the moribund education sector among many other anomalies.
However, they care about only one thing and that is ‘VOTES’ and they are ready to lick your feet to get them. In Nigeria, votes equal power.
Why do you think the PDP broke their earlier consideration to zoning the presidency for the 2023 presidential election to the South in favour of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (A northern Muslim)? It is certainly not because of their love for Nigeria but as a strategy to garner votes from the North. And if you dig deep into the choice of Dr Ifeanyi Okowa over Mr Nyesom Wike as the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the 2023 presidential election, you will discover that Delta State delivered more votes than River State in the 2019 Presidential election.
Why do you think APC Presidential candidate, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu (A Southern Muslim) chose Kashim Shettima (A Northern Muslim) as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election? Look closely and you will discover it has little or nothing to do with serving Nigeria but a strategy to cancel out any influence of Atiku in the North and certainly an attempt to harvest more votes from the North.
Why do you think the Labour Party Presidential candidate chose Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed (A Northern Muslim) as his running mate? And how come Peter Obi joined the Labour party on May 27, 2022, and got the party’s presidential candidate ticket? The former is not because Obi is a Pan-Nigerian; but because he needs to connect with the North in order to corner votes. And the Labour party gave Peter Obi their platform not because there were no credible and competent members to represent the party but because someone like Prof. Pat Utomi had to step down for Obi because Obi has built a powerful momentum among the youth population and they know the Obi brand will deliver more votes than Prof. Utomi and any other Labour party candidate.
It is high time we understood that leadership is not a one-man’s show, neither BAT, ATIKULATED nor OBIDIENT alone can solve the Nigerian problems, what we need is an ecosystem of steward leaders. The old concept of a ‘leader with a thousand helpers’ has failed us woefully. Thus, our focus now should not be only on who becomes the president of Nigeria but who are the set of legislators that will hold the executive accountable for us and most importantly who are those competent hands that are going to be our leaders in our respective Local Government Areas. If you have a competent president but an incompetent local government chair, your life will still not be meaningfully impacted. For example, Tinubu, Atiku, or Obi will not revamp or construct the road of your street, nor will they build or equip the primary healthcare centres in your community, it is the constitutional function of your Local Government.
My parting shot,
Except we want to deceive ourselves, we do not need a Muslim, Christian nor Pagan, not even a saint or an angel to be the president of Nigeria, what we need is an ecosystem of what I refer to as Principled people and service-oriented leaders from the bottom to the top irrespective of tribal or religious leaning. What I refer to as DAT Leadership (I will discuss this further in my next article on Leadership)
It is a fact that when you need medical surgery you do not make your choice of a surgical doctor based on ethnicity or religion because what you want is the result. And when Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan broke the world record to win the Gold medal in the Women’s 100m Hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon USA, all Nigerians celebrated her victory and nobody is talking about her religion or ethnicity because we are all interested in the result. In the same vein, your support for any presidential candidate as well as the people who manage the affairs of your State and Local Government should be based on the capability to deliver the desired result irrespective of ethnicity and religious affiliation.
I must also add that the yearning for change for good leadership is a rational decision and not an emotional decision as some of us are trying to portray it. The more argumentative you become the fewer your friends but the more sense you make the more friends you make. Insulting and bullying people who hold opposing views will only drive people away from you; which reduces the potential votes of your candidate. Therefore, use convincing and factual arguments in an educative and expository manner with humility and sincere respect for the opinion of your audience to market your candidate and woo people to your camp. Remember, politics is a game of numbers.
Finally, you need to remember that, if we must take back our country, it must be a well-thought-out rational decision devoid of ethnic or religious sentiments. And as I have said above, the Politicians value and ‘worship’ votes but the good news is that we own the votes so, let us turn the table around and be the master because if someone is desperate enough to pay ten thousand Naira (N10,000) for your vote, it means your vote is worth much more- think about it. You don’t need any order or recommendation on who you should or should not vote for from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Arewa, Afenifere, or Ohaneze, and definitely, you don’t need it from the so-called social media influencers or musicians. The right to vote is your civic right, so exercise it for the betterment of your life and your loved ones.
Ishola Ayodele is a Strategic Communication Strategist who specializes in ‘Message Engineering’. He helps brands, organizations and Leaders communicate in a way that yields the desired result.