Essays / The Pontifical Papers


I get it: plenty of you folks have made a firm commitment to the success of your chosen political candidate. Good for you.

But, a number of us are just ordinary Nigerians who are trying to be careful about the next government of the country–hell, some of us may not even make a political decision until Election Day itself. Which is why these politicians are running round the country like worried mice, campaigning from state to state.

The choice of a candidate may seem like “a very obvious something” to you, which is fine. But (except, understandably, you’re a party member or you have been paid to do their PR work) how about you tone down the pompous assertions and confident statements a bit? Stop dividing Nigerians into political camps of ” You’re either with us or you’re not”. The “takeitorleaveit” idea is not doing your candidate any good and it’s giving the rest of us a shitload of headache.

See, it’s quite clear that the most fucked-up aspect of election season is  the way people lose their heads and degrade into the kind of ass-kissing, messiah-crying, noise-making comments that you would find on every social media site in Nigeria currently. But that process is even more retarded when you consider that this scenario has been repeated again and again since the 1950s without any realistic progress. The voters of the 1950s-60s; the 1970s; 1990s were no less passionate than the electorate of 2011 or 2015; they equally campaigned and cajoled furiously—and violently—for their chosen politicians to take office. So, how exactly is 2015 any different? And why should we get worked up this time?

If the failure of the electorate to be passionate about politics is responsible for Nigeria’s failures, then I would happily take a stick and bang cans for a candidate too. But, in reality, it is too much passion and too little thought that has brought us to where we are today. Because we simply pick a favoured candidate and campaign for him, instead of allowing him—and his party—to convince us.

Of course, one has to be concerned about the calibre of one’s rulers. But this ought to be a rational decision, not an emotional one. If we were all to vote by gut feeling, we should probably just vote in our favourite sex-partner as the next president. But seeing as some thinking is required, then we have to step back and assess each candidate right until the D-day. Politics is not about dogmatically taking a politician’s side, it is, instead, a continuous evaluation of all available information in order to make choices in one’s rational interest.

So, let’s not turn things upside down: where politicians and their parties don’t campaign to citizens but citizens now campaign for politicians.  In matters of principle, one has to take a side; in matters of politics one doesn’t have to take a side. Let’s not confuse a “non-partisan” Nigerian as someone “sitting on the fence”.

And so, I’m not a PDP party member, and I’m not an APC member.  Therefore, I’m not obliged to defend either Buhari or Jonathan. Instead, I have a right to question every inch of their actions and motives so long as they intend to govern me. Nothing is too small to ignore, nothing is too big to question.

Let them keep trying to convince me that they are good for me—and not just by saying that the other option is worse.

Or as Aunty Funmi says: “Be a voter, not a voltron”.


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