Debate and Nigerian Elections: To Hold or Not To Hold? – Viola Okolie

Debate and Nigerian Elections: To Hold or Not To Hold? – Viola Okolie




Debates are good, we dey use am dey know champion – who sabi pass- but at the end of the day, of what use are debates in an electoral process like Nigeria’s?


If you ask me, i will say nothing!


Since our ‘tentative’ return to democracy (more like a lootocracy), Nigeria has attempted to host a number of debates at the peak of the campaigns into various elected positions in Nigeria.


Perhaps,  the most abused and denigrated of these debates are the Presidential debates.


Usually, the incumbent appears because he knows he has to defend his performance (or lack of it), to the bored portion of the electorate (most of whom do not end up going to vote anyway), while the topmost contender wishes it away as a waste of time and las las. the contender who seems to have more important things to do than to come sell himself to the voting public ends up rigging.

Emm, sorry about that slip of the tongue – winning the elections.


As it was with Obasanjo, so was it with Jonathan and Buhari.










But this one wey the two both of the top contenders decided to boycott the debates, what are the implications?


If you say “fire on the mountain”, na you sabi.


While I think, though, that it is a mark of respect to the voting public to make an appearance on debate day and respond to the moderators’ questions as calmly and co-ordinatedly as you can manage, to appear, unlike the other pundits that think debates should be made mandatory as a pre-requisite to appearing on the ballot, I am of a contrary opinion.


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I think that we should totally forget about the debates and focus, instead, on the more important things like rigging or buying of votes of election day and, to borrow from my mentor Jonathan Swift in ‘A Modest Proposal’,  I’ll tell you why.


Before I start though, to clear all doubts that I may have an eye on an elected position and trying to clear the way for myself, please bear in mind that I do not have any political ambitions and neither does anyone in my immediate family.


We are just trying to make it easier for those who are interested to keep an eye on the ‘real deal’ and not focus on the inconsequential things like a debate.


Now, look at this;

The people who benefit most from the debates are the networks and organizations who organize them.


They are trying to get you to tune in so their ratings can go up and they can get advert placement money and stuff like that.


Debates are of no value whatsoever to any other person but the networks.


NEPA will kuku not give you light to watch the debate and who wants to go and queue up to buy fuel at black market rates just to listen to the same bunch of recycled political dinosaurs tell us to repeat the meaning of ‘livestock’  five times; or promise to fire your streets and water your houses?








Better to spend that time watching Zeeworld and Telemundo.


The people who are finally going to be making the decisions on who gets elected into what position, have not seen electricity in their villages for the past eleven months.


They will sha be flashed electricity off and on for the three weeks leading up to the elections.


The bottom line is that their televisions are for piling up old newspapers and church bulletins.


These ones will vote anyway even if anybody asks them to vote for a branded T-shirt bearing the face of someone like that.


They do not know who is contesting for what position and they don’t care.


Even if you give them a face cap, they will follow you to the polling booth.


Add a T-shirt and they will press their hand anywhere you ask them to press.


By the time you add N500 on top nko?


They will carry the ballot box and hightail out of the polling unit.


Thunder fire who win debate. Na debate we wan chop?




In Nigeria, these are the things that determine the outcome of an election:


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  1. Who sabi rig pass?
  2. Who sabi drop “mula” pass?
  3. Who has the largest army of underaged voters?


In case you missed it, while you were straining your esophageal chords demanding for a debate because it is your right as a citizen, INEC ad-hoc staff who will supervise the voting process in some parts of Northern Nigeria are being advised to “ignore the age of the voter in front of you’.


Just check to ensure that the details on the voters card they are carrying tallies with what is on the register.


Once it does, brethren, resist any urge to be unnecessarily patriotic or heroic.


Look the other way and permit any body (or thing just on the off chance that goats and cows also appear bearing PVCs) that has a PVC to vote.


Because voooooom, ka mma karia statement.


You see the voting public, they only see the politicians during the electoral cycle.


That is when they come bearing indomie noodles, branded recharge cards, rice, bread and :odorless fufu.’


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After that, they do not see them and the so- called constituency projects until another election season when they hurriedly come and use six inches blocks to build bridges and mix cements in head pans to construct ‘roads:


As far as we are concerned, all politicians are liars.


No matter what the politicians are saying, no matter the promises they make while campaigning; the people they are talking to are bodily present, yet absent minded.


They are waiting for the ‘sharing’ to start so they can collect their own and face their front.


If you go there with only grammar and nothing to share, they will just nod to all you are saying (wetin concern them), and wait for the candidate that will share money to come.


It is the same across all the parties.

Be it  APC, PDP, or APGA.




Such is life.


You think these ones are interested in debates,? Or who won it?




So, hoping that I have been able to convince you that debates are not working in Nigeria and rather than change the recycled hands we have as ‘leaders’, we need to start sensitize the people to stop collecting pittances from politicians in exchange for meaningful development.

We also need to strengthen the process of prosecuting any politician involved in votes buying and election rigging.


Like I said, it is better to scrap these debates.


They are not only a useless part of the entire electoral process; they are the major cause of all the problems we have in Nigeria.



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About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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