As a Nigerian politician, having a sweet mouth is a highly desirable skill, no doubt. You can have great plans for your voters, but you need proper storytelling skills to stimulate them. You know? Something to keep the people going.
It’s not enough to say you’ll provide free education, you have to remind your voters that you couldn’t go to school when you were young because there was no one to provide free education for you. Or that you were forced to travel to school on foot across seven seas and mountains because there were no schools in your community.
But as a voter, it’s useful to have it in the back of your mind that politicians are trying to game you. If politicians have to deceive or manipulate you to get what they want, they will — and they do. The goal is the elected office they want, and sometimes they’ll tell you sob stories to appear more relatable to you so you can vote for them.
You have to jazz up and always look at the merit of their actual plans, and not just their corny grass-to grace stories.
With the campaign season for the 2023 elections kicking into gear, we compiled Nigerian politicians’ greatest hits of sob stories. And you should expect to see more of them.
Goodluck Jonathan (2010)
“In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags. I carried my books in my hands but never despaired; no car to take me to school but I never despaired. There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired. I walked miles and crossed rivers to school every day but I never despaired. I didn’t have power, didn’t have generators, studied with lanterns but I never despaired.
In spite of these, I finished secondary school, attended the University of Port Harcourt, and now hold a doctorate degree. Fellow Nigerians, if I could make it, you too can make it.”
Muhammadu Buhari (2014)
“It’s a pity I couldn’t influence the reduction of the cost of nomination forms. I felt heavily sorry for myself because I don’t want to go and ask somebody to pay for my nomination forms, because I always try to pay myself, at least for the nomination. N27 million is a big sum.
Thankfully I have a personal relationship with the manager of my bank in Kaduna and I told him that very soon the forms are coming. So, whether I am on red, or green or even black, please honour my fund request otherwise I may lose the nomination.”
Atiku Abubakar (2018)
“I started out as an orphan selling firewood on the streets of Jada in Adamawa, but God, through the Nigerian state, invested in me and here I am today. If Nigeria worked for me, I owe it as my duty to make sure that Nigeria also works for you.”
Rotimi Amaechi (2022)
“I don’t come from a privileged background. I grew up poor. I understand how it feels to go without some meals in a day. I know the pain of lack and the agony of want. I know what it means to see your parents toil just to keep a roof over your family’s head. I know what it is to feel the weight of expectation when you are the only one in your family who enjoys the opportunity to attend university. I know what it is to scrimp and save and struggle.”
Atiku Abubakar (2022)
This guy, again.
“Who could have ever imagined, an 11-year-old village orphan, who had to rear other people’s cattle to raise money to feed his family, would have the opportunity to go to school for free, rise through the cadre of a decent profession, establish successful businesses, and become the Vice President of this country? That’s the Nigerian dream and that’s my story. That’s the possibility I want to pass to you and your children. No matter your current circumstances, that shouldn’t limit your success in life. There shouldn’t be any limit to what you want to achieve if you’re willing to work for it.”