Congratulations Mr Buhari on your victory at the All Progressives Congress Presidential Primaries.
You have fought tenaciously to stay in game when everybody reminded you that you said you weren’t going to contest again and so one can safely say at this point that you have won the battle. It is not enough to win the battle though, you have to win the war. Securing the mandate to fly the flag of your party for an election is not the end of the work, infact, it is an indication of the tremendous amount of work you have to put in for the next stage.
Internal party democracy is one thing, the democratic culture of Nigeria is another and you have to step up your game and do better. You have been able to convince ‘delegates’ that they should give the mandate to you but does the average man on the streets know anything about you except what the media has led to think?
If you are going to be seen as a serious contender who is not just riding on the wings of the godfather or the party machinery, you are going to have reach out to the masses in their home grounds, not on political jamboree meetings in stadiums; you will have to show up on farms, in the mines, in the markets, on the roads, in schools, embassies, entertainment houses etc and sell yourself. Let me tell you a truth, gathering thousands of people in stadia in the six geopolitical zones has not made the incumbent look better than we know him – he is still as politically, economically, socially oblivious as ever.
Yeah, the idea is to sell yourself to the people who are supposed to vote for you. Before someone wants to know how well you will do, what economic policies you’ll institute, who will be in your cabinet etc, they have to even accept you first. From acceptance of your personality, you can then table your plans and draw up a roadmap.
It is time to start coming out of the controversies that have dogged your reputation over the years; time to start addressing all the possible issues the opponent might want to throw in the works of your campaign even before they have the opportunity. You know that great fires start from small flames, a small rumour left unaddressed till the public debate (if there will be one) can literarily become your Achille’s heel.
One does not toll the path of siddon-look after winning a mandate, you get up and do your research. Hire a group of young energetic guys and ladies to do that. Dig up every possible fact about the country and related events in other countries and arm yourself with them. Find out; find out the cost of cooking oil, eggs/crate, onions, Tiger generator, Indomie noodles, kerosene, etc.
Identify with common man, relate to his frustrations and express your feelings about it; for only when the man sees that your share in his humanity and feel what he feels then can he see you as the possible ‘saviour’ he has long hoped for. Get into people’s lives, be part of them, visit the places they visit and please tell your security guys to take it easy on folks, infact we would appreciate it if they make themselves as invisible as possible, no one likes to feel too far from the man they want to vote for.
It is not enough to array yourself in the attire of the tribes, you should be seen to be aware of the customs and participate at any major event happening in those tribes. It is not enough to put up ads on TV and Facebook, the best ads are those that we see happen everyday in uncontrolled environments i.e. everyday people’s lives. Visit the major tourist attractions and welcome Nigerians and foreigners to these places and promise them better. Lookout for not-so-major tourist attractions and project their economic value to not only foreigners but to the residents who can gear up for the economic boom those places can generate.
The race to Aso Rock is a short one and it can only be likened to a sprint because we have just two months to the general elections. There’s no time to waste, if you haven’t generated enough mobilisation money for the elections then you may not be seen to be serious. The PDP-led Federal Government have been amassing funds for this election and so have a huge war chest to prosecute their plans. You may not match up to their cash-ability but you can defeat them hands down if you identify with the ordinary Nigerian and make him believe in the change you inspire. Infact, make your campaign about ‘The Change Nigerians Inspire’ rather than the change you bring; afterall, they (Nigerians) are the most important factor in the country they live in.
Mr Buhari, (I believe you don’t mind the title ‘Mr’), this election is now yours to lose because the incumbent has lost all possible moral standing to ask Nigerians for a second term when we know he will do worse (‘everybody’ –so far- have done worse). The international observers know that you’re the man to lead this country and the Nigerians in diaspora need to see you live up to your reputation.
You have to name a running mate and you have to do that quick, you have had time to think about it and you don’t want to send the idea that you’re indecisive about something as important as who your VP will be. Consult widely and choose someone with less baggage to deal with; when you’re done picking stand by that guy solidly and move on.
You need to keep in touch with those guys that contested the party’s mandate with you; you’ll find out they may hold the aces to your victory in the coming election – even if it is only in their home states.
Lastly, this is not going to be social media election, this point cannot be over-emphasised; your feet must be firmly planted on the ground such that the farmer in Suleija, the palm kernel woman in Ezillo, Ebonyi, the SS3 girl in Chibok, the carpenter in Ogbomoso and the cattle rearer in Minjibir, Kano feel your vibes everytime you move. Follow the happenings on social media but don’t lean on them; read what’s on the newspapers but don’t believe everything (but you already knew this or else we shouldn’t be voting for you, should we?), say your mind but act it out more.
Shake hands, give hugs and carry small children and smile at lot more.
Nigerians are counting on you.
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