The American Mid-Term Election and Lessons for Nigeria
By Dr. Uche Diala
The much awaited American mid-term election has come and is going and the results as they pan out all but defy all projections, expectations and known traditions of American mid-term elections regarding a ruling party. Significant to note is that the predicted “red wave” did not happen.
In the lead up to the election, Republicans especially its ‘MAGA’ wing led by Donald Trump (who has refused to accept and move on from his 2020 defeat) doubled down on branding Joe Biden and the Democratic Party as failures.
They touted and sought to exploit the historic rate of inflation and deep economic woes that America and Americans are passing through; including insecurity; using both in scare tactics to sell to Americans that Armageddon was coming and America and Americans were headed for the apocalypse if the Democratic Party was allowed to remain in charge.
In all this, they pretended not to know the reasons for the parlous state of the economy while refusing to acknowledge the situation Joe Biden inherited and his efforts at solving the problems including the COVID-19 pandemic and his historic and monumental Infrastructure Bill designed to help rebuild and jump-start the economy.
This prompted Joe Biden to say; maybe for the history books now that: “Election is not a referendum. Election is a choice. Look at what I met. Look at what I’ve done and look at what they are offering.”
Today, in spite of all the shenanigans, fear mongering, lies, hate speech, propaganda and obfuscation of facts, Americans in their majority; for the greater good of their nation have sent a clear message to the Republican Party and indeed the world that they are hurting alright (economy, security and otherwise); they are angry and disenchanted alright but they know the reason(s), understand what is being done by their government and they will not be decieved or misled.
Coming to Nigeria; especially as we approach our own general elections, the case has been pretty much the same or similar. Some presidential candidates and opposition parties have taken a page from that playbook of fear mongering; predicting doom and gloom for Nigeria and Nigerians; even going as far as stating on international media that Nigeria is a failed or near failed state and they are the only god ordained messiah to salvage it. What could be more ridiculous and unpatriotic?
They do so while refusing to acknowledge the state of the nation handed over to Buhari and the APC in 2015, the intervening circumstances and events since then. As they seek to instill even more fear in the minds of Nigerians; using the poor state of the economy and still precarious but fast improving security situation, while bandying statistics and data (fake, half true and true), they outrightly deny the glaring efforts and achievements against all odds of the Buhari administration, Nigeria and Nigerians.
All this in a desperate bid to confuse, deceive and mislead Nigerians into voting for them even as they have not been able to articulate any clear message or plan backed by facts and their own past records as to what they would do better and HOW.
However, like I have said severally: “There are not enough bigoted, gullible, ignorant and bitter Nigerians to deliver enough votes to send such persons to Aso Rock”. At least I pray and hope so.
The outcome of the American mid-term election serves as a timely lesson and a warning to Nigerians. Times are bad no doubt. There is no sin in being angry and disenchanted over it yet at such times we are called upon to be even more vigilant, think more critically and to make more objective decisions and choices devoid of emotions and sentiments so as not to jump from frying pan to fire.
I read people ask “suffer no de taya you”? I join to ask; suffer no dey taya us? We cannot continue to jump from pillar to post looking for a phantom messiah when someone is already on ground doing the hard lifting and effective work needed to ultimately end or ameliorate our suffering; only for us to start all over again and thus prolong the same suffering we lament about. Wither the wisdom?
Today, I paraphrase for my fellow Nigerians what Joe Biden said: “Election is not a referendum. Election is a choice. Look at what (Buhari and APC) met. Look at what (Buhari and APC) have done and look at what they (other parties) are offering.” It is indeed as simple as that.
I Therefore Humbly Urge Us To …
A. Look objectively at what Buhari/APC met in 2015 and have had to deal with. We often lament how bad things are and naturally so but hardly spare a thought to how worse things could have been if not for the President we have; in these times we are in; in spite of his shortcomings.
B. Look objectively and sincerely at what Buhari and Nigeria have done in the areas of infrastructure, economy, agriculture, power, insecurity, oil and gas, social welfare, education, health, reforms in multiple sectors including electoral reforms etc. If you do not know, you ask to be informed. It is not yet uhuru but we surely have moved from where we used to be and are moving verifiably in many respects.
C. Objectively and dispassionately look at where we are headed IF we are able to build on those achievements and foundation. Also look at the option Buhari and APC are offering in terms of presidential candidate combination. Look beyond the emotions, partisan and other sentiments at the plans they have laid out publicly and the capacity and track record they bring to the table then objectively compare and contrast with what the other parties are offering. There is a glaring and clear choice there.
After doing all that, let that guide you to make an objective and realistic decision on who and how to vote next February.
Like the American mid-term election, the 2023 Nigerian general elections is a very important one that must be decided more from the head than from the stomach and the pocket as important as the stomach and pocket are. If we get it right from the head, the pocket and stomach will surely and eventually fare better on the long run.
I sincerely empathise with and appreciate us all and I trust that like Americans have done, we Nigerians will also disappoint the fear mongers among us and prove them wrong come February for the sake of Nigeria and all of us.