By Innocent Okon
The eve of an election year in Presidential democracy has never been kind to serious governance. It is a year for stock taking and explanation of failed policies and programmes.
In America, the eve of an election year is when pollsters take the centre stage and feed the electorates with approval ratings of incumbent elected public officers. It is always a period for damage controlp, and governance is perfunctorily given a backseat and secured with a seatbelt! Both the incumbent and those eyeing the office are playing to the gallery. If it is his/her last term in office, the mission is to exit on high approval rating. It is always an uneasy opportunity to offer reasons why some projects and programmes nosedived, while others recorded resounding successes.
In Nigeria, the next election is within ear shot in 2023, while 2022, the election eve, is here with all the frills, drills and thrills! Unlike other climes, our own comes with fears, tears agony and paradox! Here, the eve of an election year is when states and national government still present jumbo deficit budgets! It is a year they still promise to construct dual carriage roads, airports, seaports and railways.
While Americans are in sympathy with their President in an election year and call him a lame duck President/Governor, in our clime, they cajole us to believe that their tenure is still time friendly. All variables working in favour of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), next week is going to round off all intra-Party elections.
For months now, many Governors, serving legislators and Federal Ministers abandoned their duty posts to seek either re-election or new offices.
For the first time in Nigeria’s chequered political history, the Governor of the Central Bank, Godwin Emefiele showed more than a veiled interest in giving a shot at the Presidential seat, while still in office! Many state Governors and Ministers who are unarguably inept in governing their states and ministering their assigned Ministries, used pseudo-social and vocational groups to purchase nomination forms at economically obscene six figures!
As at the last check on their annual remunerations, none of them inched near half of the figure they bought the forms by proxy.
State Governors and Ministers traversed the six geographical axis of this beleaguered country in Chartered jets and consulted delegates with more percuniary inducements than programmes and policies.
Meanwhile, pensions , gratuities, unpaid contracts and unemployed employable youths are crying for attention in their respective states! Former Ministers are not forthcoming on the scorecards of their ministerial stewardship, but are promising Eldorado. Some economic observers have drawn attention to the free fall of the Naira in obedience to Dollar in recent times! Thus giving some motor Park economists the guts to canvass that the cost of ongoing campaigns and consultations with delegates may be denominated in Dollars!
But when the jamboree is over this week and political paper weights return to their locations of primary assignment, who will they account to? Who will they point at as the oxygen of their political wild goose chase? Will any state House of Assembly muster the guts to ask any imperial Governor to disclose the sources of all the funds he deployed to build castles in the air? Sure and certain, they are returning to their gubernatorial seats, except the Ministers, who were asked by the President to exit office if they had any political ambitions. But when they are chauffeur driven in a blaze of siren to Government House, won’t they see hungry pensioners, kid hawkers, hewers of firewood and students of public universities who have lost one full academic year to an avoidable strike action by memebers of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)? Again, I ask: DO THEY REALLY THINK ABOUT US?
Okon, a legal practitioner, lives in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.