The 2023 presidential election is yet another make-or-mar election for Nigerians to decide the future of the country.
…and boys and girls are not smiling
The choices voters make can be the catalyst for Nigeria becoming either Wakanda or the African Venezuela.
With the campaign season set to officially start on September 28th, 2022, what are the electoral issues that’ll be front and centre when Nigerian voters head to the polls next February?
When President Buhari started his second term in office, his aide, Bashir Ahmad, tweeted that his second term would be focused on “education, education and education”. Unfortunately, the past three years haven’t lived up to the promise in that tweet.
Nothing makes education an electoral issue more than the fact that thousands of students have been sitting at home for more than six months. Since the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) went on strike in February 2022, they’ve failed to reach an agreement with the government to resolve their issues. These issues have been recurring since as far back as 1999.
The 2023 presidential election must produce a president who has a clue or two on how to find a permanent solution to ASUU strikes — a pressing problem for the millions of Nigerian students who’ll be voting.
The economy is a default electoral issue anywhere in the world even in countries with booming economies. But in an economy bent out of shape like Nigeria’s, it’s a critical issue to focus on. The Buhari administration succeeded in dragging Nigeria through two terrible recessions in seven years. Double-digit GDP growth is now a pipe dream.
On the other hand, double-digit inflation has prevailed for years and Buhari has presided over the naira’s worst-ever period in history.
The next president needs to convince Nigerian voters that the trials and tribulations the economy has witnessed under Buhari can be something to laugh about in the future.
In 2022, Nigerians can’t even sleep with two eyes closed anymore, with how insecurity has ravaged the country under Buhari’s APC-led tenure.
The current administration may claim to have significantly tamed the monster of Boko Haram, but terrorists in other regions of the country have filled that vacuum much too comfortably. Thousands of Nigerians are now routinely kidnapped and exchanged for ransom, or killed in mindless acts of violence. The roads are now terribly unsafe and terrorists are targeting rail lines too.
Whoever becomes president in 2023 must provide a clear roadmap for ending the bloodshed.
Make Sleep Great Again
Nigeria is still fundamentally a deeply-divided country. Regional sentiments of secession are as prominent today as they’ve ever been during the current republic. And the antidote to breaking up the country is restructuring it in a way that it caters to regional interests while still remaining together.
Buhari danced around restructuring for much of his tenure, but the next president is going to have to tackle it head-on.
Health status of candidates
Nigeria has already lost one president to death due to his poor health status in 2010. And a highlight of Buhari’s presidential legacy is the combined 200+ days he spent in London treating an undisclosed illness.
It’s no surprise Nigerian voters need some reassurance that presidential candidates are in the best shape to take over the reins of the country, so history doesn’t repeat itself. It’s the kind of thing that would make voters wary of red flags like Tinubu’s mannequin challenge:
It wouldn’t be a bad idea for candidates to make their health reports public before Nigerians head to the polls. But will they do it?
Zoning has been a major talking point of the 2023 elections already, especially around the primary elections that produced the candidates. With Buhari, a northerner, ending his time at Aso Rock Villa after eight years, there have been calls for the next president to be a southerner.
And even in the south, there have been calls that the next president should come from the southeast region. This origin issue has taken a beating for much of this year and isn’t as prominent anymore, but it’ll still play on the mind of millions of Nigerians at the polls in 2023.
A candidate’s religion isn’t typically a major talking point because everyone usually adheres to the principle of balancing a presidential ticket. But the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has sent tongues waging with his choice of a fellow Muslim as running mate.
No major presidential ticket in Nigeria has been bold enough to make such an attempt since 1993, and aggressive opposition to it is expected to grow as the 2023 election approaches.
As a Nigerian voter, what are the electoral issues your candidate must promise to tackle?
ALSO READ: Emi Lokan: Why Tinubu Feels Entitled to Nigeria’s Iron Throne