The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has enjoined politicians to focus on issues and avoid politics capable of plunging the country into avoidable crisis. The Sultan, who made the appeal in Sokoto, also urged politicians to concentrate on issues that affect the nation and avoid using abusive words or casting aspersions on one another during campaigns.

Sultan Abubakar’s remark is in line with the thinking of many Nigerians. The civil society, traditional and religious leaders have also urged politicians to avoid unpatriotic activities that may cause chaos in the country. Earlier, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had issued a similar directive to the candidates and their supporters. It tasked them to concentrate on issue-based campaigns. In the same vein, the National Peace Committee (NPC) initiated a peace accord signed by the candidates of 18 political parties at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on September 29, 2022. Let the candidates respect the peace accord and eschew bitterness in their campaigns.

The advice by the Sokoto monarch is timely and must be heeded. There are a lot of issues to be discussed by the candidates. Nigerians will like to know what they will do to revamp the power and education sectors. The candidates should explain how they can lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty as well as how they can create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians, especially the youths. The comatose health sector and spiraling insecurity and rising inflation are some of the issues they ought to address instead of engaging in mud-slinging and hate rhetoric.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), not less than 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. In December 2022 a report by a research outfit, Jobberman Nigeria, disclosed that over 50 per cent of Nigerian youths were unemployed and unemployable, stressing the need for urgent intervention to halt the trend. Within the same period, the Debt Management Office, hinted that the total public debt stock had risen from N42.84trillion recorded in the second quarter to N44.06trilion in Q3, 2022. The problem now is how to repay the mounting debts and fix the economy.

In many parts of the country, insecurity has been on the rise. Terrorists, insurgents, kidnappers and other criminals are attacking and killing Nigerians without adequate response from the security agencies. The situation is so bad that farmers can no longer access their farms due to insecurity. Prices of basic food items have been steadily on the rise as the naira continues to lose value.

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There are so many issues the candidates can campaign on in this election season. It is, therefore, unfortunate that in the face of the obvious challenges confronting the nation, some candidates are engaging in inflammatory rhetoric and unnecessary name-calling, rather than dwelling on issue-based campaigns. It is sad that some of the candidates have abandoned the issues that matter and resorted to personal attacks and drama. They should desist from such unhealthy engagements.

We align with the Sultan on the need for the candidates and their political parties to address the issues facing the nation, rather than throwing mud at opponents. This is not the time for frivolities. 

In the remaining weeks to the election, we urge the candidates to focus on their agenda. They should jettison the incendiary comments and dwell more on issues that will unify Nigerians instead of those that will further polarise them. Since Nigeria is the only country we have, they not set it ablaze with their fiery rhetoric.

Election offers the voters the opportunity to elect credible leaders. Voting in an election is a civic responsibility.  Our usual “do or die” approach to politics is reprehensible and condemnable. The 2023 election should be conducted under a peaceful atmosphere. Let the voters decide who wins the election. We agree with the Chairman of NPC and former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, that the candidates must ensure civil and decent campaigns. The candidates need to address issues that concern Nigerians most and show respect to their opponents. Let there be civility and decency in their campaigns.