By Akin Ojumu

Nothing speaks to the character of a nation more than the type of individuals they choose to lead them. The identity of a people is intricately woven into the fabrics of the moral fortitude of their leaders. Good fruits don't come from bad trees, and neither bad fruits from good trees. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Only a nation of bent character elect shysters as their leaders. Amongst people who place a high premium on moral nobility, men and women of perfidious pedigree find no home in the corridors of power. In places where honesty and integrity matter, scalawags and fraudsters are locked up in jail and not elevated to the highest offices in the land.

Elections have profound consequences. The choice you make at the polls is your voice speaking your tomorrow into existence. Whom you elect will shape your future and determine your prospect. Thumbprinting the wrong party on the ballot paper is akin to signing your own death warrant.

If you vote for a crook, expect him to act crookedly. Elect a murderer, he’ll conduct himself murderously. Don’t act surprised if you end up in the ditch of despondency, after you hand the wheels of your nation’s destiny over to a demented old man who sleeps and snores at a moment's notice. Expect your life to be miserable if you choose questionable characters as leaders.

The average Nigerian desires a simple existence. He wants safety at home and security away. Mr. Iretiola would love to enjoy steady power supply, fuel his vehicle with no hassles, and travel on passable roads whenever he goes. Mrs. Chukwudili definitely wouldn’t mind having potable water flow out every time she turns the tap in her kitchen. 

It’s the dream of Mr. & Mrs. Akpan to enjoy affordable housing, eat 3-square meals a day, and provide good education to their children. Much more importantly, when Mr. Danladi needs medical care, he wants it to be available, accessible, and reliable.

It's indeed a good thing for anyone to desire all these things. Nevertheless, living a good life doesn’t come by miracles. You cannot wish it into existence. A good existence flows naturally from choosing good leaders who go on to build strong institutions which constitute the foundation for growth and development that produce the good things that make our existence meaningful.

No nation thrives by means of wishful thinking and stroke of luck. The pillars of growth and development rest on a solid foundation of strong and enduring institutions. Consciously and deliberately, wise nations establish systems and institutions that form the backbones for growth and bulwark against decay.

To make sure that these institutions are consequential and enduring, these nations put mechanisms in place that ensure their efficient operations. Such efficient institutions develop systems that effectively create the enabling environment for growth & development.

The tree of growth and development in any nation is nurtured from deep roots that consist of certain vital and basic elements. These elements – institutions and systems – together form the bedrock upon which a nation grows and develops.

And it all begins at the polling booths, in the choices of leaders the people make. The people suffer because of the wrong choices they make at the polls. When the suffering and misery start, the excuse, “O, if we knew he would turn out this way we wouldn’t have voted for him,” will not cut it. An insight into the future comes by looking at the past. If you want to know what a man will do tomorrow, consider what they did yesterday.

Nigerians face a consequential election they cannot afford to get wrong. Now is the time for Nigeria to sever all ties to their dark checkered history of poor electoral judgements. More than ever before, it’s imperative that they choose men and women of real substance, who are not encumbered by old age or paucity of ideas.

Nigerians must elect a president healthy enough to roll up his own sleeves and would not mind soiling his hands in the dirt of building the strong institutions and systems that the country needs for growth and development.

So, on Saturday, February 25, 2023, don’t tempt fate. Vote prudently!


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