I am sure that most political parties/political leaders in Nigeria, watched as Gordon Brown (Ex British Prime Minister) resigned from his position after accepting responsibilities, for his Labour Party defeat in just concluded United Kingdom general election. Every political dynasty has an end, so did Gordon Brown’s premiership that ended on Tuesday May 11th 2010. I am also sure that most Nigerian political parties/political leaders, watched Obama’s electoral victory, and the opposition victory in nearby Ghana. All these elections mentioned above have thrown a lot of challenges to Nigeria, especially as we approach the 2011 general election. To that extent, Nigerians should demand from all political parties the following(s);
Political Parties/Groups Manifesto(es).
As a matter of necessity, all political parties in Nigeria should produce their manifestoes. These manifestoes should be made available both online and hard copies. Nigerians need to know their programme(s) and why they are seeking power. Political parties should be ideologically based. Mega party or coalition of parties should come up with manifestoes as well. Parties also need to make public their internal constitution. This is with a view to knowing if there are internal democracies within the parties themselves. The should also make public their websites. Interestingly, the last time I checked all the parties, many had no operational telephone numbers talk less of a website. Operational websites should be a basic requirement for Nigerian political parties. This will enable Nigerians in Diaspora to participate in politics.
Parties should disclose to Nigerians the sources of their campaign funding. Donations, fund raising, gifts etc to parties should be disclosed. Person(s) or corporate bodies making any donation should also be known by the Nigerian public. Cost(s) of election campaigns should be disclosed. As at October 15th 2008, before the November 4th 2008 American presidential election, the United States Federal Electoral Commission revealed that McCain campaign organization had spent $262 million dollars while Obama had spent $564 million dollars. Methods of campaign (electronic, print, telephone/sms, etc) should be disclosed. Obama campaign organization made use of over 1 billion text messages during his campaign.
Political parties should make public, academic qualifications of all those seeking to contest under their platform. Party leaders themselves should tender their certificates for the Nigerian public to scrutinize. Academic certificates are now a big factor in politics and elections. People have used fake certificates to gain political positions. In Iran, former interior minister (Ali Kordan) was sacked for faking a law degree from Oxford University United Kingdom. In Nigeria, Salisu Buhari (Former Speaker of the House of Representatives) was forced to resign after discovering that he forged his certificates.
Evidence of security clearance from Interpol, Nigerian Police Force, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and State Security Services of each aspirant, should be made public by all parties and the candidates themselves. Nigerians deserve to know if political office seekers have criminal records in any part of the world.
Assets and Liabilities Declaration.
Political parties should make public, evidence of assets and liabilities of every aspirant. Sources of these assets and liabilities should be disclosed as well.
This is non negotiable. Nigerians should insist on leadership debates by political aspirants. No elective position (councillorships, local government chairmanship, states House of Assembly, gubernatorial, House of Representatives, Senatorial, and Presidential) should be exempted. Parties should arrange live debates for Nigerians to evaluate candidates
Political parties should furnish Nigerians with comprehensive medical examination certificates of all aspirants. There is no guarantee against ill health, but Nigerians deserve to know the medical history of all those seeking political offices. Certain sicknesses should not be a barrier to seeking elective positions. This requirement (health check) should be applicable to all elective positions in the country, starting from the ward councilors to the president.
Age MUST become an issue in Nigerian politics. But I will not tell the political parties the age requirements for party members seeking to contest elections. All I will suggest to Nigerians is; there is no point voting people who are above retirement age. McCain (the last Republican Presidential candidate of America) was 72 years when he contested election. His (McCain) age was among the reasons why he lost election. David Cameroon the United Kingdom Prime Minister is 44 years old.
The Electorate (Nigerians).
We owe ourselves and the country a duty to make the right choices during the general election next year (2011). We also need to mobilize one another against electoral fraud. I suggest all electorates to become electoral activist(s). Vote during elections, stay around till the votes are counted, follow the returning officer(s) or delegate people to follow the returning officers till the overall results are announced. Monitor elections in your locality. Go to pooling stations with hidden cameras or spy cameras. Better still; take pictures with your mobile phones.
All Nigerians should be on their guards since the National Assembly has not passed Justice Uwais electoral reform recommendations. I advocate Option A4. We are also yet to see a radical transformation at the Independent (Dependent) National Electoral Commission. Therefore, electorates should get ready to defend their votes. There are two choices for the electorates (Nigerians) to make, either take action that will bring about changes or keep quiet and allow the corrupt politicians to completely destroy us. Our little actions can change a lot. For every action to manipulate election there should be a reaction to counter it.
Finally, please remember to participate and join the fight against global warming. Turn off your electrical appliances/lights when not in use. Plant a tree or sponsor one to plant on your behalf. Government and companies should send less paper work and do more email, telephone, and sms. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK