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Vote for service, not religion, ethnicity

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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 Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) broke their earlier consideration to zone the presidency for the 2023 election to the South in favour of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (A northern Muslim)? It is certainly not because of their love for Nigeria but 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 election, you will discover that Delta State delivered more votes than River State in the 2019 presidential election.

Why do you think the All Progressive Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu (a Southern Muslim) chose Kashim Shettima (a Northern Muslim) as his running mate for the same 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 that region.

Why do you think the Labour Party’s presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi chose Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed (a Northern Muslim) as his running mate? And how come Obi joined the party on 27 May 2022 and got the party’s presidential candidate ticket a few days later? 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 Obi their platform not because there were no credible and competent members to represent the party but someone like Prof. Pat Utomi had to step down for Obi because the latter has built a powerful momentum among the youth population and they know the Obi brand will deliver more votes than Utomi and any other Labour Party aspirants.

It is high time we understood that leadership is not a one man show, neither BAT, ATIKULATED nor OBIDIENT alone can solve the Nigeria’s problems. What we need is an ecosystem of steward-leaders. The old concept of a “leader with a thousand helper” 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 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 centre in your community. It is the constitutional function of your local government.

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 a medical surgery, you do not make your choice of a surgical doctor based on ethnicity or religion because what you want is result. And when Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan broke the world record to win the gold medal in the women’s 100 metres hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, United States, 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 of leadership is a rational decision and not an emotional one, as some of us are try 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 them 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 a 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, 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 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, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, 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.

Ayodele is a communications strategist who specialises in “Message Engineering”. He helps brands, organisations and leaders communicate in a way that yields the desired result. He can be reached on +2348077932282, ishopr2015@gmail.com

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