This candidate wants your vote, how do you determine whether s/he is worthy of your vote? That is what we are discussing today on EP 5 of the Citizens’ Platform series.
Here at Aspilos, we call election season the pretty season. This is because that is when everyone shows off their pretty side, they may reveal the ugly side of their opposition though. During the pretty season, candidates up for election project themselves to be the best. They develop unrealistic manifestos, make unrealistic statements of being better than the next candidate and that they will do better than the incumbent administration. For so many reasons (poverty being key) one too many voters in Nigeria have gotten caught in the web of this deceit, forgetting that whatever decision they make today, will affect their lives tomorrow.
In Nigeria particularly, you see electoral candidates engaging in activities they may never have done before just to impress the electorate. They do all sorts of things like frying akara, hanging out with the proletariat and other similar gimmicks etc so that they will be perceived as humble people that understand the mandate of the people. Over and over again, people have fallen for those gimmicks. We are to help reduce that.
As the period of election approaches again, it is very important for all voters to critically look at each candidate and decide for themselves what they want. This decision should not be premised on the pretty messages in the media but on deep on critical evaluation of the candidate. Assessing a candidate before an election is a must for every voter as this will help one make an informed decision. You should not vote based on other people’s opinion of a candidate.
The following are some ways to assess your candidate. We will talk about three of them today. We are focusing on research and introspection for this episode.
- What do you want from a candidate: The first question we should ask ourselves when assessing a candidate is, what problem or issue do we want her to address? If the problem you seek to address is a concern on poverty, insurgency, bad roads or electricity, you check her election campaigns and strategy to see if they tally with your objectives. Another question that comes to mind is whether she has the requisite leadership qualities and experience to address that issue? You check her past records to assess the reliability of her claims. Make a note of your findings.
- Research and gather material on the candidates: Find out past records about them both good and bad. At this stage one will look at the media publications made on them, their manifestos and campaigns, records on previous positions held, how was she able to address issues before, what were her guiding principles etc, the candidate’s debates (hopefully, we will have more of this in 2019), and reviews/write- ups made by individuals and groups about the candidate. It is important to also bear in mind that the candidates are human and are bound to make mistake so it is imperative to be fair in our judgment.
- Candidates stand point: A candidate’s standpoint on issues is very important. It is a known fact that candidates make a lot of unreasonable promises and take a standpoint on those issues to impress the electorate. It is essential for the electorate to decipher what is achievable and what is not. Aside the practicability of her promises, we should also consider her stand point on issues centred on the people. For example, does she consider it just for Fulani herdsmen to take human lives because of cattle? What is her take on the issue of insurgency? What does she think about the economic situation of the country? What were her reactions on this issues while granting interviews, during debates and statements? Was she silent on those issues, was she evasive or did she address them? Does her stand point represent what you want from your candidate?
Think on these things today and use the parameters mentioned here to begin to evaluate the few candidates you might already know about.
Here is to choosing the right candidates in 2019!