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2023: The Paradox Of Choice

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By Dakuku Peterside

The year 2023 for Nigerians is about choice and with choice comes consequences. We face critical decisions on many issues that will define our future as a country and as citizens. The most obvious and consequential of this choice and consequence effect is the general
elections.

We will be voting at various levels and constituencies to elect leaders that will pilot the country’s affairs for the next four years. The presidential election is the zenith of these elections, and its significance has far-reaching consequences for the country. On its face value, unlike earlier presidential elections where we had two real options, Nigerians have many options in this one comparable only to the 1979 presidential race when we had to choose from five candidates.

At a closer look, you will see the practical application of American psychologist, Barry Schwartz’s paradox of choice theory. The paradox of choice stipulates that while we might believe that being presented with multiple options makes it easier to choose one that we are happy with and thus increases citizen satisfaction, having an abundance of possibilities requires more effort to decide and can leave us feeling unsatisfied with our choice. Many citizens think the options before us make us more frustrated and less happy overall.

Three or four Presidential candidates are of note, depending on your perspective and depth of understanding of the political landscape. Each possesses unique attributes as well as shortcomings.

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Candidates may only embody some of our aspirations and reflect some of the values we want to see in our country’s future president. However, it is still our responsibility to analyze all the information presented to us and chose a candidate we are convinced will lead Nigeria for the next four years and set us on the course of economic, social, and political growth.

The choice before Nigerians by February and march next year is not essentially only about candidates but about the outcome of the socio-political and economic realities, we like to see post-2023 elections. The contest is also about the unity of Nigerians versus the triumph of regionalism or ethnicity, security versus insecurity, and unbridled corruption versus good governance. Each presidential candidate represents a shade of this, but none embodies all the positives. Here lies our dilemma.

We have historical antecedents to rely on to unravel this dilemma. History provides a few lessons that shed light on how we dealt with similar situations, what outcomes we had, and how they affected our past and present. In the 1979 elections, which best represented multi-party elections, each presidential candidate represented a distinctive offering. Shagari was a pro-establishment, nationalist, and free-enterprise economy advocate. Awolowo was the symbol of the welfare state or socio-democrats who believed that government should do the greatest good to the most significant number of citizens hence his pursuit of free education and free healthcare for all. Azikiwe was a nationalist who believed in free enterprise. Aminu Kano was a pro-masses and pan-socialist. Waziri was also a man who believed in free enterprise. Nigerians voted in Shehu Shagari as president and lived with the consequences of that choice. Many choices of presidential and gubernatorial options did not necessarily translate to the best outcome.

Subsequent presidential elections in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015 followed the binary option where we had two dominant candidates to choose from. However, these options were only binary in the sense of having two different candidates but not binary in ideology, or leadership approach to solving our socio-economic challenges. In all these cases, the options before Nigerians had nothing to do with policy or ideas but about personalities.

The current presidential election presents a unique setting – we have many options but fewer ideas and values to choose from. Ordinarily, the assumption is that as the number of options increases, so will citizens’ utility from voting also increase. But this is not true. We may have four contenders for the presidency; however, it is clear that we have options of personalities and not ideology, value proposition, or ideas on how to solve Nigeria’s hydra-headed challenges.

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Tinubu and Atiku represent pro-business, pro-establishment tendencies with strings of promises to inject fresh ideas to build a better country. Peter Obi and Kwankwaso, on the other hand, represent different shades of anti-establishment, pro-masses, and social democratic tendencies with a commitment to disrupt the existing system.

Peter Obi and Kwankwaso are products of the establishment and beneficiaries of the pseudo-capitalist order, having served as governors in the past and have been prominent members of the PDP and APC parties. Running their campaigns on how bad the two dominant parties are and how they destroyed Nigeria, they portray themselves as repentant former PDP and APC members that have seen the light and have adopted a messianic triumphalism in rescuing Nigeria from PDP and APC Satanic claws.
This situation sounds hypocritical but resonates with some citizens who are discontented and disgruntled with the existing orthodoxy. Peter Obi seems to have successfully appropriated the masses who are dissatisfied with the two political parties due to past failures and has taken advantage of the youth’s anger against a system they feel has a stranglehold on their necks. We know that come 2023, either an establishment presidential candidate will emerge winner or an anti-establishment candidate will. However, no matter who wins, his job is cut out to transform Nigeria.

We are living in unprecedented times in our history. We are facing an economic crisis of a magnitude never seen before: unemployment is embarrassing, tension among different ethnic groups is at an all-time high, and insecurity is alarming. The world is watching whether we will fall off the cliff or we shall triumph. This unique era makes it imperative that we be deliberate in getting citizens to understand the importance of our choices in 2023. If we get it wrong, we will move from socioeconomic purgatory to socioeconomic limbo in a relatively short period.

It is time we examined and interrogated policies, projects, and activities candidates have in their manifestos, the character and personality of each candidate, and their professional experience to ensure that the candidate fits the person specification for the presidency of Nigeria. It is time we do not allow parochial religiosity, ethnicity, and politics of financial gratification to influence the candidate we choose. The consequences of doing business as usual are dire even to contemplate.

This juncture is critical and constitutes an elite dilemma. Nigerians need to watch out for red flags among the candidates and allow their knowledge of the candidates to determine their vote choice. If a candidate does not have a track record of outstanding performance in previous work or profession, we must expect them to stay the same when elected president.

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The broadly unenlightened masses all share the same concern: mass poverty, ethnicity, and hunger. Unfortunately, some citizens do not care about the long-term outcomes of the electoral process and are bent on jeopardizing the whole process. Enlightened and patriotic citizens must engage continuously so ordinary citizens appreciate that there are consequences for whatever choice we make this year.

The choice dilemma is not peculiar to presidential elections. The quality of National Assembly members and Governors at the subnational level is also essential. A critical factor that determines economic growth in a democracy is the competence, capacity, and commitment of elected representatives. Somehow, though not empirically proven, the quality of our representatives seems to be degenerating with each cycle of the election. In this forthcoming election, we have multiple options but not essentially better options. Citizens must vote for candidates with the knowledge and passion for serving in the Assembly rather than turn it into a retirement home for ex-governors and retiring politicians.

More worrisome is also the caliber of persons elected at the sub-national level as Governors. The bulk of citizens’ lives is best improved at the state level. States are closer to the people and have consequential decision-making powers on crucial development issues that affect the poor. From infrastructure, electricity, education, healthcare, and land administration to agriculture. States which have a tremendous influence on local government administration are responsible for the expenditure of a lot of national revenue. In practice, states combined with LGA, account for almost half of all federal revenue expenditure (current revenue formula is FGN 52.68%, and State and LGA 47.32%). The import is that the quality of governance in the states significantly impacts national development.

We are experiencing stunted growth because of the poor quality of government at the state level, which is getting worse with every cycle of elections. At this subnational level, serial failure of governance, which is a product of mediocre leadership, has led to poor socioeconomic outcomes, widespread poverty, weak healthcare, and educational system, insecurity, and lack of trust in governance. Our choice in this election will determine the quality of service at the state level – the strength, unity, and prosperity of our country going forward.
Happy new year to all Nigerians and may 2023 offer us the best in leadership for the good of our country.

 

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Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States

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The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.

The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.

In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.

Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”

“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.

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“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.

“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”

Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”

 

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CRIME

Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life

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Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.

Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”

Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.

The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.

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While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.

According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.

The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.

“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.

“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”

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Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.

Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.

The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.

Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).

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Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks

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The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.

The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.

Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.

CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.

Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.

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DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.

She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.

Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.

Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.

Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.

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ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.

CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.

CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.

The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.

CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.

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  • Source: Independent

 

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