Citizens’ Platform (6): Assessing a Candidate that Wants Your Votes

This candidate wants your vote, how do you determine whether s/he is worthy of your vote? we started this discussion on EP 5 of the Citizens’  Platform series and will complete it with this episode. We left off on what things to look out for in a candidate and how to do so, we discussed three points on this. Now we move on to point 4.

  1. Leadership is a very key thing to look for especially with the leadership crisis we have in Nigeria and Africa at large. Is this person going to be a leader that you want? Will she live up to her promises. Go through as much of the history of this person that you can find. Check out for things like the appropriateness of her communication, her honesty and uprightness. Check to see if her past is tainted with corrupt practices.  Can she be easily manipulated? How has she handled issues in the past when faced with tricky challenges and situation? These are some of the questions you may when assessing her leadership qualities.
  2. Look into endorsements and campaign contributions: When assessing a candidate it is vital to look at those behind the candidate, the source of campaign funds and the calibre of persons supporting the candidate are very essential.  Is the candidate using her own money, raising funds from a few wealthy donors, or raising funds from many small contributors? Are the people that are behind the campaign people that can be trusted?
  3. Seek other people’s opinions: It is important to seek others opinion on the candidates because there may be some issues which you may not have discovered while researching, which they may have a better opinion on. Be open to carrying on an open discourse on candidates, it will help you and others to think more critically about the candidates.

Common distortion techniques

It is important to observe certain attitudes displayed by candidates during campaigns.

  •  Name calling/Appeals to prejudice: These are attacks on an opponent based on characteristics that will not affect performance in office. Accusations such as, “My opponent is arrogant and full of hot air,” do not give any real information about the candidate. Reference to tribe, ethnicity or marital status or religion can be subtly used to instill prejudice.
  • Rumour mongering: These include statements such as, “Everyone says my opponent is a crook, but I have no personal knowledge of any wrongdoing,” which imply (but do not state) that the opponent is guilty.
  • Guilt by association: These are statements such as, “We all know Candidate B is backed by xxx cabal,” they attack candidates because of their supporters rather than because of their stands on the issues.
  • Catchwords: These are phrases such as “Cabal ” or “ APC and PDP” designed to trigger a knee-jerk emotional reaction rather than to inform.
  • Passing the blame: These are instances in which a candidate denies responsibility for an action or blames an opponent for things over which they had no control.
  • Promising the sky: These are unrealistic promises that no elected official can fulfill.
  • Evading real issues: These include instances in which candidates may avoid answering direct questions, offer only vague solutions, or talk about the benefits of proposed programs but never get specific about possible problems or costs.

Sorting Out

After gathering all your facts and information, the next big question now becomes, which candidate’s views on the issues do I agree with the most? Which candidate demonstrated the most knowledge on the issues? Which candidate has the leadership qualities I am looking for? Is my choice clear? If so, pick a candidate.

We wish us all the best as we make our choices. Vote the candidate that will carry out the mandate of the people.


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