By Alhaji Sani Idoko Abdullahi.
Since we witnessed democratic government in Nigeria in 1979 when we were still in primary school and at its second abortive term in 1983 with its glamour of political campaigns, at no time have we witnessed the kind of energy, intellectual insights and persuasive ability that Dr Victor Alewo Adoji, popularly known as DVAA, has brought into the political campaign as he rallies to represent the people of Kogi East at the Senate chamber in the National Assembly during the forthcoming senatorial election.
Politics, as they say, is not for those with lily livered, neither is it for the idealists or the moralists, but those with personal appeals, sufficient capacity and persuasive ability to convince majority of the people to vote for them or their candidates in an election. In other words, real politics is driven by aggressive campaigns either by the candidates themselves or their proxies known as the foot soldiers spread across the the grassroots.
Let me recall that my attraction to the game of politics and its glamour of campaign rallies started during the second republic when we were young in the village. I was always thrilled by the organizational skills, persuasive oratory and the gladiatory nature of our local politicians at the time. I witnessed their determination to mobilize the people and convince them to vote for their party and candidates which at that time was the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) due to the aggressiveness and enlightening capacity of such local influencer who did not only vwork to convince the people to vote for the party but made a song of how they should vote so that the votes could be validly counted.
I wouldn’t have brought out my own participation in the electoral campaign at that time into this discourse, being not a partisan personality, but when one of my old classmates, Alhaji Ibrahim Mohammed in his recent telephone discussion with me complained about the dwindling impacts of political campaign and reminded me of the day a political rally was held in our village to shore up support for the senatorial candidate of the NPN, and as a young student, I was called upon by people to address the crowd on behalf of the youth, I realized that if I say we have been watching political rallies and campaigns for sometimes, we have witnesses that could buttress our claims. I graciously carried out that assignment so eloquently that many villagers who had known me as a quiet and shy young boy were baffled that I could hold the microphone and speak to the crowd of people. Talk of political socialization of the youth.
At that time, platforms like social media as they operate today were non existence, but political candidates found a way to reach out to the people at the grassroots through town hall meeting and campaign rallies in remote villages, all of which afforded the people the opportunity to feel and touch them with the expectations that they could represent them well at the various offices they were seeking.
Unfortunately, with development in communication technology and the dominance of social media platforms in interpersonal communication, physical contacts with the people have been reduced, and most of the mobilizational activities are carried out through the social media, though not totally forgetting physical rallies and person to person contact that has become the order of the day.
While that alternative mobilisation platforms have been accepted by majority of the people particularly, the educated ones and those that live in urban centres, the systematic alienation of the people at the grassroots from the main politics of electing their representatives through the ballot boxes has made it possible for those with the levers of power at the top to become the ones that decide who “wins” and “loses” at the polls without recourse to the electorate- the real people on whose mandate any representative in a democracy could enjoy the legitimacy of the office.
Therein lies the modern politics of patronage where those put forward by those at the top no longer care to campaign or rally aggressively for people’s votes, but just wait for the formality of the election for them to be inaugurated. This demotivating trend is at the centre of people’s growing apathy towards election as they no more believe that their votes would count. But all that is about to change with the new Electoral Law that has automated election processes, whereby manipulation which erodes people’s power to elect their true representatives is expected to wane in the 2023 elections.
As we approach the election days, when Nigerians would for the first time experiment with electronic voting system, one candidate that I have personally observed to have demonstrated in real terms, that semblance of political campaign is Dr Victor Alewo Adoji (DVAA) a senatorial candidate for Kogi East in the coming election. Dr Adoji whose aggression, intellectuality and consistency in selling his candidature to the people at all levels has no doubt, attracted my own attention in non partisan ways. Some of us who are not political partisans but politically aware and conscious of what happens in our political environment owe it a duty to share our political ideas and understanding to the people on non partisan basis for the education and enlightenment of all. That’s the motivating factor that drove this write-up.
In this modern day of mass education, there’s hardly anything that anyone can lay exclusive claims to in his or leadership quest as to want to hide it from the people. Dr Alewo Adoji from my everyday reading and understanding of the political developments in the country stands out in his quest to represent the people of Kogi East at the Senate chamber of the National Assembly through his realtime campaign rallies and consistent engagement with the educated and youthful ones who are dominant on social media platforms. Every now and then his messages either in his own writing or by proxies prop up on various media platforms to promote his candidature, make promises, analyse his ideals and vocalist his vision for people to see, read and judge him in future; and that’s how it should be.
Because, that’s how to build legitimacy and taking people seriously. Any politician who is shy enough not to engage the people on all these available platforms either in person or through his proxies is trying to run away from responsibility as he or she may not want to commit to any promises that could bring them to account tomorrow but rely on people with levers of people to determine their fate against that of the people. And where is effective representation where there’s no accountability?
As one with social science background, I became particularly excited when DVAA at the beginning of his campaign set up an App where young people from his senatorial district could register themselves with their name, address, qualifications etc. What that’s expected to do is to provide adequate data on the people he will represent if given the mandate based on evidence, so that whenever he speaks on their issues on the floor of the Assembly, he would be doing so on the basis of true information that’s evidence-based.
To an average person conscious of what population represents in human community, that’s the begining of the realization that the data is not just number but real human beings that can be seen in their true forms. And the reality, as has been pointed out elsewhere is that, people would tend to believe and vote for the candidates they have seen and read from than anyone they have not, if given freedom to choose in a free and fair election
May God give us the will, the patience and minds to decide who will truthfully represent us as we decide in the coming days.
– Alhaji Sani Idoko Abdullahi is a non partisan personality and can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org