Lessons From Across The Atlantic – (The American Elections) – by @basamta
Just as the euphoria begins to die down and both camps sheathe their sword for good
A week after the people, the press and the politicians begin to regain the sanity which was lost-as always, on the campaign trail
A week after the victor has since give his victory speech and even the vanquished, his acceptance of results
A time when politics and politician are not hugging the headlines, as everyone unite behind the ‘people’s mandate’
A time when issues-of all sorts, but issues still, take their prideful place in social discourses
The curtain is drawn on a most poignant election in America, as Obama retain his mandate as the 44th American President
To the unsighted and uninformed, everything appeared like same of the same
First Tuesday in November 2008, Obama contested against GOP Candidate Senator John McCain and won
First Tuesday in November 2012, Obama again contested against GOP Candidate Governor Mitt Romney and again won
From the same Chicago campaign headquarters, he reeled the same speech of hope, appreciation and anticipation
What they probably will never realize is the difference of these two seemingly similar but outrightly different episodes in American destiny
For us-Nigerians and Africans, that live far-far away from the game, many lessons are to be learned, and many virtues to be picked up from this bastion of modern democracy
But focusing on Nigeria, here are some of the lessons I believe we would do well to learn and adopt
The POLITICAL PARTIES;
Nigerians and INEC should learn from the deregulation of the political space in American
Many Nigerians do not know that almost twenty (20) political parties contested the elections last Tuesday
Even much more than twenty (20) candidates ran for presidency in the elections-both partied and independents
Yet, the cream as always rose to the top, as the people being the critical audiences were able to sieve the wheat from the chaff
INEC should learn not to regulate the political landscape like it’s trying to do
They should allow the people congregate, form whatever political parties they desire, and put up candidates for elections
For many, that would be the high point on their lives-running a failed presidential campaign,
For few others, it would be their privilege to galvanize public support, infuse the election train with new thought and perspectives and help instigate social change
If democracy will preach freedom, it should start from the election
In every American Presidential election year, there are always four major debates: 3presdiential, and 1vice-presidential debates
The discussions were robust, the counter-argument s were interesting, the people indeed were fired up
Infact, the debates were the biggest swinger of votes and opinion, as Obama was marginally behind in the polls before the debates
My question is, why can’t we make presidential debates compulsory as a precursor to the general elections
Why should candidates feel they either have to come or not of their own volition?
Remember 1999, when Obasanjo didn’t show up?
What about 2003, when Obasanjo debated with himself alone?
Same with 2007, when Yar’ Adua was assumed to be ill, or even President Jonathan in 2011, as he missed the debates involving Ribadu, Buhari and Shekarau
Critically, why should we have just one poorly organized and extremely inexhaustive debate amongst the ‘lesser’ candidates that would determine our national destiny for 4years?
Isn’t it just so emblematic of our national incompetence to have allowed this continuing for so long?
INEC, PRESS, PUBLIC…take note!
It freaks me positively to think that almost every child, man and woman understand the ideologies of the major political parties in the American political scene
People don’t just join parties to win elections, or change parties and cross carpet like village idiots-the way we do in Nigeria here
Remember the AD mass emigration to ACN, or the PDP emigration to other political parties
I asked you my literate reader; do you know the ideology of PDP?
Do you understand the counter philosophies of ACN or CPC?
Can you boldly defend with logical arguments the merits of supporting one party in Nigeria against the other?
Why are our elections simply a case of money, power and influence?
Why does everyone run to PDP first and eventually run back down to other political party when a nominee has been chosen to fly their banner in an election?
What are the prevailing ideology, philosophy and identity guarding the formation of parties, the constitution of a group or their advocacy of their position?
Why is our politics grossly lacking in ideas and identity, but full of grift, graft and the Dafts?
Ok, let’s consider the elections proper
How is it possible for a country of 300million people, with more than ten times the size of Nigeria to ably manage the people’s votes?
How did America so set up itself to coordinate the polling centers, votes counting and the systematic release of results?
How did the election commission manage the public, press and the global expectations regarding monitoring, assessing and the verification of votes as they trickled in from state to state?
Why can’t we achieve same in Nigeria?
Is it impossible for us as a nation to be so organized? Or is it beyond the reaches of our mental capabilities to create a system and put in structures that allow our political process to be transparent and accountable to all?
Must we continue with the political thuggery, ballot snatching, massive thumb printing and rigging as well as fake voting?
Can’t we just get this one right and allot the people’s mandate prevail?
Finally, it’s the people that give substance and value to every American election!
Let me ask you, do you remember the famous crowds at the Obama campaign in 2008?
Or the diverse demographics of his supporters on his campaign trail?
Can you remember a day when CNN or ABC did not run a commentary, article or post on the election in the last one year?
Did you not notice the empathy among the people, their involvements in the debates, discourses and arguments?
Were you ignorant of the social culture, the contribution of the religious organization, the inputs of children, the elderly and the young adult as everyone geared form a very memorable elections?
Truth is Americans loves their elections. It gives them another opportunity to decide the faith of their leaders
It guarantees them that their voices will be heard and their votes will count
What do we have here in Nigeria?
The people hardly care. The campaign is never about them
You see the youth playing ball on elections day, the children playing hide and seek, the elderly sitting about discussing ancient politics and their experiences during the military?
You don’t see them voting or getting involved in the real process
Imagine that in 2012 Jonathan got 22million votes, Buhari got 12million votes, Ribadu some 4million and all
Out of the 77million registered voters, less than 40million voted, and that is out of a possible 167million Nigerians
Nigerians do not care about the political process. They may have been shortchanged for a long time and feel angry at the system, but how else will desired change come if they do not influence it?
How else will their voices be heard and their votes count if they don’t get involved?
The truth is politics is not just about parties, elections and lofty or aggressive campaigns
Politics is about this people, the processes and the prevailing culture that accepts, supports and validates its leadership-choosing process
Politics is about ideas and ideals; it is about the press, people and parties getting involved in their discussion about change and social advancement
Politics is asking more of our leaders and demanding even much more from ourselves in a bid to change the nation and make it better
The question is would Nigerians learn from the American, or just keep watching TVs and reading newspapers, and keeping believing that Obama is their distant relative
I’ll leave the answers at the mercies of your imaginations