The right to information is the core of any good society, government, and economy; this is necessary for the prevention of malpractices, misconduct, abuse of power, violation of rules and illegal activities. In the Western world, the government is held accountable for all deeds in the past, present, and future because they know, that this shows respect and empower their citizens. By informing citizens adequately, they know when and how they should cast their votes, and most importantly gives them a chance to speak out against all sorts of injustices.
1960 marked the year that revolutionizes the presidential choice in the United States of America with a live broadcast of a debate between the two main candidates: Richard Nixon and JF Kennedy. The aim was to highlight publicly their stance on key issues that affect the country and how they hope to manage these problems. Today the presidential debate is one of the most-watched broadcast in the US television, with over 84million audience in the last 2016 debate between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton. Researchers and Historians agree that a televised display of candidates has positive effects upon the result of the election, which has greatly increased the demand around the world, especially in the developed countries. A lot of people solely rely on these debates to decide which candidates will receive their vote.
This trend is also developing in African countries like Zambia, Ghana, Kenya and more recently Nigeria The Nigerian Election Debate Group, NEDG and the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria BON invited 5 of the presidential aspirants to a debate whose selection was based on an independently administered multi-stage process involving independent online polls and distribution of survey questionnaire from states to states targeting the voting age group in Nigeria.
The day to cross the bridge finally arrived January 19th, 2019. The podiums are in place, the tape is set and almost rolling, the evening fluorescents beamed with joy, the spectators gathered from different nooks and crannies of the world to witness the record-breaking presidential debate of Nigeria. But, hélas, the day was compensated with an unusual absence of one coupled with an arrogant fussed exit of another. What did the Nigerians do wrong? While the debate is not necessarily an African style or a Nigerian trend but it is progressively important for those that belong to the group of the learned, those whose votes cannot be exchanged for Aprons, T-shirts, food or gifts of cash.
One must agree that it necessitates an extraordinary person to rule an oil-rich country whose economic growth has been quite remarkable in the last few years and has seen an increase in certain sectors like the telecommunications, agriculture and even services. The country is progressively diversifying the economy but nevertheless continually lingers in poverty, with 62% of Nigeria’s about 200 million people still live in extreme poverty. Despite all the potentiality of this country, the country still suffers from a crippled power system, lack of infrastructure, lack of adequate legislative reforms, an incapable judicial system and inconsistent environment that limits the growth of the private sectors, insecurity especially in the north of the country, and most sadly continuous and pervasive corruption. Corruption penetrates into the roots of the country which has led to the instability so far, this profiteering has eaten into media such that information is constantly devalued. According to a survey, news can be altered in just a fraction of seconds. Where is the right to information? Who speaks the truth? Who lies? Does the country need a professor? Are Nigerians in need of a motivational coach?
As Nigerians draw nears to the polls on the 16th of February, it is another moment to choose the fate of a new government or continue in the old wagon. We want citizens to understand that selling their votes will further encourage corruption and bad governance but what do you tell to that hungry soul? To that homeless person? To the father of that sick child? Cast your vote regardless of the turbulence in your heart, after the darkness, the sun will shine again and the Nation of the Civilians’ dream will be achieved.