Monday, March 9, 2015

Nigeria: Managing electoral expectations

FEW elections have had the hype of the 2015 elections, which has created strands of expectations that would be challenging to manage. They are principally on two fronts – expectations of victory and campaign promises to change the country.

Voters seem to be buying into them.
Most voters have a catalogue of reasons why victory should be their party’s. In the same manner, they can reel out the party’s manifesto or the electoral promises of each candidate. All the campaigns centre on the certainty of victory for each contender. Nobody talks about the possibility of losing the elections.

Each party wants to unchain the potentials of Nigeria, leading it to peace, progress, and prosperity.
Here are typical manifestoes of the 2015 elections:

• Better management of our natural resources
• Building roads, power and infra-structure
• Creating jobs
• Fighting corruption
• Free, relevant, quality education
• Healthcare plan for children and adults
• Restoring Nigerian agriculture
• Social welfare plan for the less advantaged
• Strengthening peace, security, and foreign policy

These are noble ambitions that could really change Nigeria. Any organisation that is able to free Nigerians from any of those shackles would be on its way to creating a new country.

Criticisms of these manifestoes include the capacities of the winning party to mobilise resources to execute them. In the contest for power, words seem not to have meaning. Nigerians would benefit from better ideas that are distilled from the contentions to serve the people better. The high standards of service politicians promise at election times disappear once the contest is decided. Will 2015 be different?

Beyond the promises the parties make and the peace accords they have signed how are the parties managing the expectations of their supporters? As they preach their advancement to victory, parties should also tell their supporters about the flipside of victory – defeat. How would the parties take a loss of the elections?

Management of elections – on the part of the parties – should include education of their supporters to accept victory or defeat, for elections go either way. The change Nigerians want includes violence-free election.


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