The Oasis Reporters
December 2, 2018
When Nigerians flash their minds back to the 2014/2015 campaigns for the 2015 general elections, they would recall that the sense of public excitement at the world of possibilities the presidential candidature of the Muhammadu Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo presented, was as strong as the aroma of coffee in the air.
Their campaign billboards were ubiquitous especially in Nigeria’s South west, the home region of the vice presidential candidate, Yemi Osinbajo.
In recognizing the cosmopolitan nature of the Yoruba homeland, a peaceful and economic beacon that beckons to all nationalities, the campaign billboards were in English language, Nigeria’s colonial and official language in a multilingual nation.
Their punchlines helped in no small measure in slicing to pieces, the support then President Jonathan had. Supporting the then president and his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, put many people at risk and the then opposition All Progressive Congress, APC had a very easy popularity sail going for it, because they promised to provide pms or petrol at 40 naira per litre. And then asked Nigerians to judge, if 215 naira to the dollar was okay for them, rhetorically.
The poorest and the vulnerable were going to receive a monthly stipend of 5, 000 naira each.
Even experienced military general, Buhari would lead the war against terror from the front.
Nigerians keyed into it all, expected utopia and a glorious dawn with a Buhari presidency.
Four years after the kick off of the campaign, with the price of petrol rising from 85 naira under Jonathan to 145 naira under Buhari’s regime, double digit inflation, the dollar rising above 300 naira, the presidential aircraft fleet getting bigger, not the promised smaller, companies folding up, unemployment figures overwhelming, recession, medical tourism of government officials becoming intolerable in the face of ill equipped hospitals at home for the poor, etc, signs of failure have tormented the poor choice of Nigerians.
Four years after, here comes another season of electioneering campaign.
With failed promises taunting the APC in the face, the Buhari-Osinbajo campaign seems to have done a rethink of its campaign strategy especially in the south west.
The major billboards in the cities of the Yoruba heartland carry messages in Yoruba language, exhorting the people to vote for “omoluabi”, meaning, vote for your tribesman, a son of the soil. In other words, voting for Buhari was also voting for Osinbajo who would have a reasonable chance in 2023, should Buhari win.
With no new promises to make in the face of failed promises and little or no achievements to present to the public, going tribal seems to be the cheapest and safest route to take.
This new strategy is likely to run into stormy weather because the ever critical and analytical spirit in the people remains latent, when they remember how they were conned into voting in again, lacklustre state officials who won reelection just by latching on to the tide and magic in the Buhari-Osinbajo branding.