Every four years, Nigerians meet to select new leaders who will help in librating them from shackles. Be that as it may, pseudo promises are not left out by politicians at this point in time. It is a time when politicians always teem with false plans, frauds and insincerity for the betterment of the people have become strangers.
Some electorate’s sorry state today, is as a result of false promises made by politicians. So in every four years, series of promises are made on both sides of the political aisle. A great number of election promises are broken. Many regard this as a severe issue that disaffects people from the entire political process, increasing apathy and lowering voter turnout. Election promises have been broken for as long as elections have been held and this is has continued.
There are strong pressures on politicians to make promises which they cannot keep. A party that does not make exaggerated promises might appear bland, unambitious, and uninteresting to voters compared to the one that does. Sometimes this can give the exaggerating party an advantage over the truthful one. Government finances are extremely complex and promises are vague enough that the media and public can rarely say for certain that the numbers do not add up.
Instead of addressing these promises, they employ political strategies of violating public expectations by refusing to make a statement.
Leaders need to understand that people will not sit and remain blind to their unfulfilled promises. How long will people wait for roads to be tarred in their areas? How long will the people wait for serious employment opportunities?
How long will people wait for decent housing, clean water and good services? How long will retirees wait for their retirement benefits? How long will the people stand by and watch the gap widen further between the poor and the elite?
How long will it take before the disillusionment turns into discontent among our people? Our politicians have over the last few years continued to give false hope to our people on many issues affecting them. And we would not be wrong to state that they have somehow betrayed their proclaimed mission.
As the country nears the 2011 elections, politicians need to seriously reflect on the promises they intend to make. They need to reflect on the manner in which they have continued to manipulate and hoodwink our people for votes.
In some cases, politicians have continued to take advantage of the illiterate who do not have sufficient information to make informed decisions. We have had reports where the poor have just been given a few handouts in rural areas and they have gone on to vote in the hope of a better tomorrow.
But today, they continue to wallow in poverty and they will again be casting their votes for the same politicians next year.
We need to move forward as a nation, as a people. The same way we want development in various sectors of the nation’s economy, is the same way we should expect development in our type of politics.
We cannot continue to tell the same lies to our people and ignore them after they have given us jobs. This is crookedness, it is theft – it is obtaining votes by false pretences.
Politicians are elected into power to work for the people and our people expect nothing less than that. Our people need to be more demanding of our politicians so that they start to understand that accountability is a must, a priority.
They need to understand that people need good public services and protection from avoidable hardships. They need to understand that they have a contract with the people to deliver and cannot operate on their own terms.
Their job is to serve the people and their interests, heart and soul.
We know that campaigning and winning an election is not easy. The temptation to cheat or deceive is high. But politics need people who are honest with the people; who tell the people the truth; who don’t promise what they can’t deliver.
False promises lead to apathy and low election turnout; it makes people withdraw their participation in the belief that their votes don’t count, don’t matter as whoever is elected will do their own thing, ignoring their election promises and manifestoes.
We hope that we will have tenable and practicable election campaign promises as politicians embark on their campaigns in readiness for next year’s elections.
Dept. of Mass Communication
National Open University of Nigeria