Editorial

Election issues are still remote

Despite the clamor for voters to get their voter’s cards, there are no issues yet on the front burner on which to base decisions on how to vote. Neither are there clear choices among the candidates in the frontline to be voted for. What we have is a blurred array of people whose eligibility is undefined by their character or purpose. So that voters are completely bewildered about who would receive their votes. Voters lack essential information about people standing for elections as well as the issues on which candidates can be assessed and chosen. These are supposed to be clear to voters by now, few months to elections. This must be resolved or determined now
Opinion polls are one way of educating voters about candidates who are popular, serious and competent. But we do not have that here. And one wonders why? Can’t the universities be drafted to supply this much needed service during elections? Private pollsters can also come to the rescue in this regard. Considering their importance, the INEC may fund them as part of its voter education responsibility.
On the other hand, it may be considered the duty of the media to place electoral issues in the public domain for adoption until elections are held. If this does not happen, the entire election process will lack focus and luster. It will not be fun and interesting to people, just the way it is now.
There will be really nothing that the elections can concretely be based on. There’s not much that elections here can achieve, since people do not know whom they are voting for and on what issues they are voting.
Faced with such tremendous uncertainty, voters should have issue-options from the political parties and their contestants on the basis of which they can make their choices of whom to vote for. For instance, Americans had the policy of “America first” as an election issue-option. They also had the issue of illegal immigrants, international trade agreements and high budget deficit for years. These dominated their debates until the election was finally held.
When we have gotten over the issue of the imposition of candidates, having rejected it roundly, the final thing to do is decide the issues to base our choices on and the persons to handle those issues.
Meanwhile, as the country is agonizing over the prospects of the elections not being transparent and fair, hope is not lost yet. The fear is mostly in INEC being able to resist the temptation to be partial. But the body can still aim at being credible and verifiably transparent. It must be issue-based and produce people with a sharp sense of priority about problems that bug the people. People’s wellbeing and happiness being the end result of good elections cannot be divorced from exciting election issues that are relevant to the conditions of the people. Henceforth and without delay, let’s face issues and not just people and their empty sweet talk in the coming elections.

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