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Are Nigerian Candidates Focusing on Tough Issues?


The Nigerian election is now just a few weeks away. As it approaches, several analysts are saying the campaigns have not been driven by real issues, such as how to improve living conditions. They say these concerns have been overshadowed by controversies over attempts by electoral authorities to ban some candidates and the face-off between President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar. The critics say instead, the candidates should be focusing on the deepening poverty in the country and the potentially explosive situation in the Niger Delta.

Innocent Chukwuma is the chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, a coalition of 250 civil society organizations. He told VOA English to Africa Service reporter Chinedu Offor that the lack of robust discussion on serious issues is the hallmark of Nigerian politics. “I am not surprised, because in the electoral history of Nigeria, especially since the Second Republic, politicians dwell more on personalities than issues. Incidentally,” he says, “the people of Nigeria are concerned with policies and programs that the parties will implement to uplift their livelihood, but they appear not to be paying attention to the issues.”

Chukwuma says most political parties have not been on the scene long enough to articulate a viable social program. “You hardly have a party in Nigeria whose history dates beyond four or five years preceding the election; and in the absence of a strong party base, which should be the galvanizer of policies and issues the candidates will implement once elected, they are left to focus more on their personalities.

Chukwuma says rather than personal attacks, there are various issues waiting to be tackled. “There should be discussion about basic stuff about uplifting the livelihood of people through the provision of amenities like roads, pipe-borne water, creation of jobs, and poverty reduction.”