Let me start by congratulating those that emerged victorious at the 2023 polls and commiserate with those who lost the election. This is a time of reflection for both the winners and the losers.
To the lucky ones that got elected, may I remind you that as you celebrate your success at the polls, you need to take some time to reflect on the loss of your opponents. Remember most of those that lost the elections today, were once the winners of the same elections you just won.
The 2023 polls came with a major upset where the mighty fell despite the power of incumbency and wealth. In most cases, money or power failed to make much impact like in past elections. It is going to be a costly mistake for any elected politician to think that it was his money that worked for him. Forget about the little handouts given to the voters like rice, macaroni, detergents, wrappers, etc. If you looked closely you would have discovered that your opponents far outspent you but at the end of the day, you emerged victorious. The Electorate decided to collect all they had been given as souvenirs they thought they deserved but went ahead to elect the ‘right’ persons for them.
Reflect on how an unknown, inexperienced, and poor young man beat an experienced and rich speaker and sent him to retirement. The truth is the Nigerian electorate is becoming wiser, they would no longer listen to your hero who would come to solicit votes for you. What happened at the just concluded elections should be a big lesson to the incoming ones if you want to last in the field of politics and avoid being disgraced at the end of the next four years.
The fleeting nature of time would make the end of four years appear like just a step away or one night away most especially when you step in on the 29th of May. If you doubt me, ask your soon-to-be predecessors who spent four or even eight eyes in power about the reality of this speed of time, I am sure, they would liken it to the blink of an eye!
I am offering this advice for the sake of us the electorate who deserve the maximum dividends of democracy and for your sake who may come back in four years begging the electorate for another opportunity to serve them.
God in His wisdom talks about karamah al-insan, that’s human dignity but many of our elected politicians don’t remember that the people that voted them into power are their masters while they are the servants. They treat people with disdain, they lack empathy and respect for those that stayed under the sun and rain to vote for them. They see them as pests who should be prevented from seeing them by the many security guards and aids around them. Respect them and be humble just the way you were when you were soliciting for their votes.
I can only pray here for God to bless you with appointees that can be of great help to you to deliver your campaign promises.
Try your best to fulfill your campaign promises even though some of them may turn out to be infeasible because of the huge disparity between your initial assumptions and the reality on the ground or due to the dynamic nature of circumstances. This is where communication becomes useful. Talk to them and explain in detail the situation on ground and make sure it is the truth and nothing but the truth. Because when the electorate finds out that you have been economical with the truth, you risk losing their trust and anything you say afterward will be taken with a pinch of salt.
The situation rooms you created to monitor your election should be retained to continue monitoring the situation of things and report them to you accordingly. People should be provided with where their queries and problems will be communicated and solutions proffered. No matter what, don’t break the link between you and the electorates.
From time to time organize media chats. The point here is, don’t break the communication chain.
Your spouse has a lot of roles to play in your tenure’s success. Remember she went house to house, dirty street to dirty street seeking votes, she shouldn’t now forget them and never be seen until after four years. She should visit the areas where she has visited to just be with them once in a while. If she could do it while seeking their support, nothing hard in repeating the same feat while her husband is in the office.
Another word is for her to be humble, more humble than her husband because one day soon, her humility will be an asset to her husband when he comes out again to seek another term in office.
I once saw a first lady that I visited, shouting at women, some of them elderly. They looked scared and begged her for forgiveness. I was sad and embarrassed. Though I didn’t know what their offenses were, whatever they did, I felt their dignity should be protected.
I also once followed one of the first ladies and I saw how people loved and respected her because of her humility. Once she was delivering a speech at an occasion, and some miscreants were making a lot of noise, distracting her, she paused and gave them full attention asking them to come forward and tell her if anything was wrong. She talked to them with respect and the boys apologized and told her all was well. She thanked them and continued. We were all impressed by that attitude. If it were some other first ladies, she would have ordered security personnel to take them out because they were disrespectful. Sometimes we need to let things go rather than react.
On another occasion I saw her breaking the protocol to talk to someone who was waving her from the crowd. She beckoned on him to come closer. She said he looked like someone she knew back then, he smiled and politely told her he was not the person. She chatted with them and moved on. These two examples didn’t take anything away from her but gained her respect and love and some electorates might decide to vote for her husband just because of her humility.
The point here is for the elected to drum it into your spouses and people around you to be humble and treat people with respect while you work hard to deliver your campaign promises.
In conclusion, I understand that as a leader dealing directly with people you need to be firm, but be empathetic, humble, and have a listening ear, and very importantly don’t underestimate the power of communication with the electorate. Remember while he hit with the left hand, hug with the right hand. The electorate is your master and you are their servants.
I pray for your huge success in office and to gain God’s rewards, blessings, and the electorate’s love.
For those that lost the election, it is just a setback that can be turned into success in the future. Study where the mistakes are and correct them but don’t forget to be humbled.
Mairo Muhammad Mudi is a writer, social worker, and editor-in-chief of Zuma Times.