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OPINION: Raising the Dark Horse Candidates in Nigeria Political Life

By Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

By a “dark horse candidate” we mean producing “an election winning candidate” but keeping his or her identity almost unknown to the other candidates. This is similar to a term coined in the 19th century to refer to a candidate nominated after multiple ballots at a political party’s nominating convention. The first known dark horse candidate in American politics was one James Polk, who became the nominee of the Democratic Party’s convention in 1844. Delegates had voted numerous times without a winning candidate. The candidates included a number of anticipated favourites, including former president Martin Buren; but no candidate could prevail. In Nigeria’s scenario perhaps no candidate had ever prevailed and this might explain why pronounced losers always going to court to challenge. In addition are the notions of godfathers, rotational candidates, or established candidates, whose fathers had exploited the weak situation before handling over to equally corrupt godchildren, and the vicious cycle of recycling only continue. The chains holding Nigeria down to such wickedness must be broken and cast away for good.

Why do we need to go to that elaborate length in Nigeria politics? It is because Nigerians are not actually free even though they celebrate independence every 1st October. We need to be set free to have a fair and free election each time. In a free and fair election, even though such a stage is far ahead of us, we could realize our dreams where each vote counts. So far our elections suffer low turnouts, high voter apathy, high interference from politicians and their political parties, etc. Our elections also suffer a high level of violence, driven by raw cash, materials and gunmen. Physical strength is brought out as a measure a candidate’s real strength instead of the mental strength and will powers. A mentally strong person will not stoop to violence neither will he compromise his principles and values for a price. He will use all other means first to obtain his purpose. A weak person will resort to violence at the slightest provocation. He does that to hide his weakness and as we all know that offense is the best form of defense. This is why we see lawmakers using chairs and other furniture as weapon to settle scores amongst themselves, instead of logic, lobby and persuasions. To become an effective politician and strong one should follow non-violence. No one is more powerful than he who has attained perfect non-injuring. No one could fight; no one could quarrel in his presence. His very presence and nothing else means peace, means love. Nobody could be angry or fight in his presence. He could never be bought at any price.

Therefore every vote is a dangerous thing to waste and we become vulnerable by leaving our votes to politicians of violence. Perhaps there are still a few people around that could remember why we vote and fight for the right to vote beyond politics. Unfortunately many think that their votes won’t count, or that they are voting for particular candidates, or think that politics is aside, and so on. The level of people in government decides the quality of life we can possibly aspire to, run the institutions like schools, healthcare, economy and all infrastructures. In fact politicians can too often infringe on our private life including our marriages, with whom you can hold a meeting, how well the nation develops, societal rights and wrongs, the quality of air, what schools you can go to, what schools teach, the food that you eat.

Recently you would recall politicians going out of their way to legislate on “hate speech”. What is a “Hate Speech”? Who decide when a speech is a hate or a friendly one? By accepting to go down that line how much of our freedom is being thrown out by these violent politicians? I truly believe that we shouldn’t hate each other but at the same time I believe that we should allow responsible freedom of speech without legislation. For example if some individual went out to create fake news and eventually everyone finds the truth, sooner or later, the lost of prestige by server of fake news should have been enough punishment. There is also a court to decide if damage has been inflicted through fake news and fabricated lies. Our freedom is not solely political for politicians to be tossing us up and down. We therefore always need to go to vote. Vote out people who don’t know why they are presidents, or why they are ministers, or why they are governors, don’t know why they are senators, or why they are in the national assembly.

Hence we have to find replacement candidates. The current politicians won’t allow a free and fair voting atmosphere, where you spend only five minutes to vote and go home, where you are proud and very glad to vote whoever wins. They want to control your votes and they are ready to mobilize you with a bottle of fanta to the pooling booths. Reject their assistance and be proud to get out and participate freely in the elections, including the choice of “refusing to vote”. My personal passion is to have 100% turn out in every election, not by legislation but by INEC and electoral officials doing good job to bring people out to vote. Every low turn out brings the wrong winner; Nigeria average turn out has been hovering around 30% only. A great percentage of the remaining 70% who have been prevented to participate could have made the right choices. Many registered voters couldn’t participate in the elections because of very restrictive regulations.

The Beauty in raising dark horse candidates is that the current politicians in Nigeria are never going to see beyond what they are used to. They are used to the “do or die”, “after election the High-Court, Appeal-Court and Supreme-Court” path. They simply come to destroy democracy and always raising the cost of elections. The only class of people that we accept them is the low class of people like themselves where in their thinking “winners emerged only be rigging or frauds.” The system needs to surprise them and throw away low thinking politicians living all their lives using brides, guns, tugs, to become the office holders. It is our opinion that a dark horse candidate who had never been thought of would comfortably sweep the votes and triumph.

We should never be afraid to improve the system and our environment. A person who is afraid will be the one to strike rather than work for improvement. A deer in the woods will charge you if you try to go near it as it fears for its life. A lion will also do so but who will dare to go near him? This shows that a strong and effective politician does not need to attack, abuse others or fight. To become strong one should follow non-violence. Obviously it is weakness on the part of government to legislate on “hate speech”. Nigeria already has very robust laws to cater for most wrong doers. Nevertheless the acid test of their legislation is if they can bring fighting lawmakers to book or governors who claim to know those on life support but such claims might be wrong. The unfortunate situation we attempt to eliminate from our system is where lawmakers are busier trying to circumvent the possibility of their ever being recalled by their respective constituency, or executive arm is preventing critical criticism and calling it hate speech, while judiciary is refusing to submit self to legal procedure. Nigerian politicians must have a rethink and work wholeheartedly for a robust Nigeria where freedom truly exists. Hence they should be told point blank that we intend to recall all of them in the next dispensation, and that is not a hate speech but the truth.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

 

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