By Fredrick Nwabufo
It must be their way or the highway to hell. These are intellectual indigents who have secured residence on different social media platforms. They maul and bludgeon anyone who differs from the herd. According to them, death is the penalty for differing. But this insidious mob can have their say; they cannot have their way.
While Bola Ahmed Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has steadied his campaign on critical issues – economy, security, education, healthcare and the like – some other presidential candidates have been dutiful in advancing hate and fake news.
It is dispiriting that some young people enlist themselves into morbid mobs to tear down divergent voices for some assumed political messiahs. Patriotism is defined around the choice of candidate, and not on allegiance to national ideals. It is very unfortunate.
Youth unemployment should be a critical issue this season. The current unemployment rate is put at 33 percent. It is really concerning. There is no doubt that this is a vector of a spectrum of social anomalies. With a youth population of over 120 million, it is imperative that young people are at the heart of policymaking in Nigeria.
In his Action Plan concepted as ‘Renewed Hope’, Tinubu delineated seminal elements to harnessing youth potential. He says, as president, the youth will not be exploited to do the bidding of the government. He says his administration will aim to cut the youth unemployment rate in half within four years through entrepreneurship and job creation as well as through social and political empowerment.
On the entrepreneurship and job creation plank, Tinubu says his government will work with the CBN to develop suitable incentives to encourage commercial banks to target low-cost loans towards a given quota of youth-led enterprises. He says commercial banks will also be encouraged to ensure their loan application processes are simplified and give greater priority to young people with marketable ideas, and that federally owned and affiliated banking institutions will immediately be mandated to develop similar schemes for young entrepreneurs.
The APC presidential candidate says there will be an increase in intergenerational, business mentoring and cooperation with two million volunteer entrepreneurs and professionals across the nation committed to working with the youth to find employment, hone job skills and create businesses.
This is clearly a plan and an antiserum to the contagion of youth restiveness and delinquency. It is disturbing that young people on the internet resort to promoting ethnic and religious prejudices, and passing sentences, threats, and curses on those whose political choice is at variance with their preference.
Concerning are the chronic onslaughts by supporters of Peter Obi, presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), against citizens from the south-east who do not support his bid. They threaten to cause harm, curse, and use every vile instrument in Frankenstein’s toolbox to drive fear and intimidate differing voices. Such hate and prejudice should not be found among well-meaning citizens.
Chukwuma Soludo, governor of Anambra state, became a casualty of the Obi Red Army when he only confirmed the obvious. In an interview in 2018, Peter Obi had claimed he invested $20 million in International Breweries on behalf of Anambra state while he was governor. This is a company he has interest in.
But Soludo said Peter Obi’s purported investments in Anambra are worth next to nothing.
He said: “I think there was something I read about somebody speculating about whatever investment. With what I’ve seen today, the value of those investments is worth next to nothing. So, let’s leave that aside.’’
It is disturbing that despite the promise of issue-based campaigns by contending political parties, the entire political expedition is dissolving into a free-for-all with divisive methods, slander and fake news deployed, particularly by opposing parties.
The rippling of a fake statement purportedly emanating from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) alleging a probe of Tinubu is a clear breach of the sanctity of the campaigns. Although INEC quickly torpedoed the fake statement, the attempt underscores the predatory and sinister complexion of our politics.
As I often say, if we divide the country during the campaigns, we will have to live with the consequences of presiding over a divided people. If the purpose of seeking power is for the good of all, then we must begin by keeping the campaigns clean. What is the good of power when the next government will spend the next four years struggling to mend fences and manage diversity without success? We will only be reinventing a parlous wheel. If we sow hate during the campaigns, we will reap hate afterwards. The travails of the past years should teach us not to make campaigns about ethnic and religious prejudices, threats, curses, slander, and fake news.
The parties going down this scorched and serpentine path, must beat a retreat.