Now, campaigns have come to an end and every candidate is eagerly waiting for harvests of votes. However, the way the AAC and its followers ran her campaign is worth reflecting on. Every lover of Nigeria is happy that new, young and vibrant voices are springing up and taking active stance on the nation’s affairs. However, the happiness is not premised on the fact that they signal hope or rebirth for the nation but it means our democratic principles and systems are being strengthened—this is what some of us are mostly concerned about.
As a politically-inclined Nigerian, I followed the electioneering keenly and was sorry at a point. Those who had presented themselves as the voice of the new generation were later over-ridden by greed. Till date, nobody is still able to give a plausible explanation for the failure of PACT. Of particular interest is the way Omoyele Sowore and his supporters went about his campaign.
No doubt, the figure being sold is a revolutionary figure who is allegedly eager to bring change into the system but it seems the AAC camp didn’t take out time to study the situation of the country before delving into the sea. Revolution is meant for pressure groups while strategy is meant for elections. Take out all odds: rigging, vote-buying, undue influence, compromise of the security agencies and other institutions, the pendulum will still swing between Muhammadu Buhari of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The main reason is that their parties are strongly established in the grassroots and people (the real voters) are not made to listen to the other candidates. The ugliness of democracy is that it is all about what the people want and not what is best for them. The masses will still go for what you feed them with and not what they deserve.
While the campaign kicked off, I was a strong believer in the new generation candidates but a close look at the followers of Sowore shows that they are not ready to “take it back”. They were too aggressive to be admirable. It got to a point that we were lost on what the agenda of Sowore for the country is; every social media page was filled with insults. To an average follower of Sowore, anyone who doesn’t believe in their candidate is a fool and outcast, not worthy of living among humans. Democracy is a game of choice and not of force. If I decide not to go with your candidate, you own it a duty to convince me and not to portray how foolish I am for making a decision that suits me. It is your decision to follow any candidate but it’s never your right to lord such over anybody.
Insanity, which is unfortunately an established culture in the land today, played out glaringly in the campaign of the AAC. You might be pained that people in their millions still believe in those who brought us to this stinking point but your communication must show what you’re made of. Paul Freire famously notes that “Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people—they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.” Yes, it got to a point that the #TakeItBack mantra was signaling oppression. No dialogue of any form; it’s either you believe my message or you remain in pauperized state. That was too harsh and that explains the main reason why the campaign could not transcend the superficial world of social media to the nooks and crannies of the country.
One can be sarcastic without being insulting. Telling people you are the best among equals without a proven record to show for that is purely self-deceit. An average AAC sympathizer believes that any other candidate apart from Sowore is dumb, unprepared, opportunistic, corrupt and evil, even the other new generation candidates. This was another aggressive means that didn’t appeal to the people. In a democratic setting, you lure people to your side, you don’t push them off as if you’re self-sufficient. Some of us will never join the young candidates just because we believe the future is in our hands. If they signify unreality, lost hope and incompetence, they need to be put through. We cannot afford to suffer the same fate in another guise. Running your campaign like the APC/PDP twin-evil shows you’re not better off.
More importantly, it was an internet-based campaign. It is an open secret that most social media warriors have no PVC. Yes, they prefer to tweet and post on Facebook than to undergo the rigors of getting a voter’s card. Election is a real occurrence and not a virtual exercise. Those who own PVC and will line up for hours are in Bodija, Alaba, Kano and Aba markets. Mention AAC or Sowore to them and they will tell you to explain what they symbolize. Unfortunately, many of us are the children of the downtrodden—the helpless electorate. Instead of us to speak convincingly to them at home and buy them to our side, we prefer to stay deaf and dumb while we are actively hurling insults at people who have no PVC. There is nothing that can be more futile than this.
Members of the APC and PDP still hold rallies at market squares, dancing to local music while luring the traders with fun. If I may ask, how many people have you convinced since the beginning of campaigns? Haven’t you made more enemies than friends? Are you still good to interact with friends and families? Reminding people of their foolishness is not the antidote they need from you. If they were aware of their foolishness, they wouldn’t have been foolish. Instead, make them see how green the other side of their thoughts is. Discovery precedes recovery.
Without mincing words, the battle is lost for now. The next four years will serve as a true test of your patience, resilience and passion to bring a new dawn to Nigeria. I hope I’ve not invoked the gods of curses and wrath.