Myth Busters -By Sesugh Akume

Filed under: Political Issues |

People’s experiences must never be sold as gospel, many times what others generally accept to be the norm is quite the opposite for others. My own experience running for office so far has been one of such.

First we’re told that money is the name of the game. Two that the people at the grassroots are poor and hungry, have been cheated repeatedly and therefore lost hope in the system so want their share now and are more than willing to sell their votes. True. But not so for me. It’s been very quite to the contrary. I’ll give two or three instances to illustrate my experience so far.

My party’s machine in Logo, one of the three local government areas of my federal constituency met on Sunday 18 November in Ugba the headquarters. Officials came from all 10 council wards. Some travelled for hours to arrive for the meeting. Others who didn’t want to take chances came the night before to sleep over and hold the meeting the next day before returning home. Guess how much holding the meeting cost? Ten thousand naira! Yes, you read correctly. That’s what it cost. It even cost that much because some are unable to pay their way to and fro, and therefore need the push, that’s all! That’s what the records show.

 

Sesugh Akume

 

A movement fieldworker who by the way is doing an outstanding job combing everywhere building our movement ran into debt, a total of twenty-two thousand naira. I eventually sent across twenty-five. Later he was to reach me that he had seven thousand naira left. I was curious and therefore asked. He said one of the persons refused to collect his money, he said he couldn’t! Note first that this person needed not tell me how much he had left, he owed no such accountability necessarily. For this donor you’d expect for him to be eager to collect and collect and create more guises to collect. Here are people at the grassroots financing the campaign of a candidate most of them haven’t set their eyes on yet. A team member has also been given a place to stay, free accommodation in Zaki-Biam for as longer on he’s on this assignment. I don’t know the benefactor, s/he has never met me.

I’m told that some principalities own certain areas who have to be wooed and appeased. They control the people and votes in those places. We’re giving honour to everyone, but we’re going directly to the people through the usually neglected on-the-ground people who do the real legwork. We’re building a movement.

I don’t know but it appears the people see through candidates, and like attracts like. Perhaps the politicians never have a message that resonates with the people to buy in and want to sacrifice working on a vision that is big and bigger than any individual. Otherwise what explains this? I was told that if I send over posters without money, nobody would post them, even at that, they may post only a few. Here am I being harassed almost daily to send across posters as everyone is asking. My party ANRP is against the use of posters because they deface the environment, and care isn’t taken to remove them after elections. Having dragged my feet, and taken time to explain, we finally reached a quid pro quo on how they’ll be applied in an ethical manner, to not pollute our environment but protect it as the green party that we are.

We’ve already redefined how the game is played. Ours is an issues-based campaign, issues only. It’s already making things difficult for those who say nothing people can hold on to and share money. We don’t do dirt, character assassination, intimidation, violence, etc. Others have said it won’t work, this is politics, and this is Nigeria but it’s working already. We may not do those but effectively have mechanisms to counter them. We’re steps ahead.

To whom much is given, much is expected. We are aware and bear the weight of this responsibility. We’ll play differently and the scene will never be the same again. That’s why we’re here.

 

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