Hello there. Are you a politician in Nigeria or a wannabe, who has no plans whatsoever to be declared winner after all is said and done? Then you have come to just the right place my friend, as I will be sharing very rare tips on how not to win elections in Africa’s most populous country.
But first of all, you should know that you are not alone in this predicament. So you have absolutely no reason to feel embarrassed.
Think about it. At the last count, there are up to 91 political parties in Nigeria and up to 73 of those are fielding candidates for the presidential marathon. It is, after all, called party for a reason, right? Everyone is invited. And if you are not eligible, just gatecrash your way in – until some forgery case or zoning formula catches up with you.
Back to the topic of the day: Do not be fooled by the fact that so many people are doing it easily, i.e. losing elections. Truth is just as people like Mallam Nasir El-Rufai became accidental public servants, we have also had countless accidental losers in our nation’s long electoral history. But the good news is you don’t have to wait for accidents to happen. With recently emerging evidence in the scientific world, you can be deliberate about losing.
Compressed into this short listicle is over twenty years of research conducted by experts in various fields. By Jove, losing an election has never been this easy — but please be warned that the principles presented here are not universally applicable. They have only been tested and trusted as far as politics in Nigeria is concerned, and analysts predict that they will remain valid for at least another dozen years.
Prior warning: As this is a how-to piece for beginners, the level of straightforwardness may prove sickening, or even dangerous, to experienced folks. Reader’s discretion is advised.
Have no money
The first thing you should note if you are contesting for a public office (with no intention to win of course) is you don’t need money. Not a dime! If you have lots of money, don’t bother wasting it. Just keep them somewhere safe and then come up with nice speeches like, “I do not believe in money politics. Nigerians now know better than to vote based on so-called stomach infrastructure.”
Trust me, people will fall for it like a house of cards and will not even remember you or your party’s name on election day, let alone vote for you.
If you want to take your campaign to the next level, you should in fact beg people to donate to your ambition. That is the way it’s supposed to be, right? When you visit the local markets and bus stations and beer parlours and they ask you to “settle the boys”, just slowly breathe in and out, and then take your time to lecture them on how they should be the ones to settle you so that you can represent them well after elections. Tell them the politics of rice and stipends is of the old, and the politics of ideas is afoot. Bruh! You won’t just lose; studies have in fact shown that the margins of losing if this strategy is religiously adhered to are typically astounding.
Have too much sense — or too many certificates
Another quality you need to keep in check is “sense” — if you have too much of it. Nigerian voters have no liking for someone who knows too many things, speaks too many big words, gives too many statistics, or just somewhat sounds like he knows what he is saying. Who are we kidding? Is this the United States of America or some Scandinavian country with 100 percent literacy rate?
One more thing before we move on: All your MScs and PhDs and DLitts do not matter when it comes to elections. Nope. In fact, the lesser the degrees associated with your name, the better. Omoyele Sowore is one guy who gets the drift. Though believed to have a Master’s degree from Columbia University, he was quite smart to have registered only WAEC with the electoral commission.
Then again, if you can slide in one forged result or the other in your application too, there is an eighty percent chance it will work in your favour.
Start your own party — or sth like that
All these old parties, with so-called nation-wide reach, are corrupt. Everyone knows that. There is absolutely nothing you can achieve with them — except of course you intend to win, which is not the case. So please start your own political party. Trust me, Nigerians will understand. They will understand clearly what you are out to achieve. And, if you’re lucky, you might even get sympathy non-votes.
On the other hand, if starting a party is too much stress, you can join any of the eighty parties occupying 20 percent — if we’re generous — of our political space. Find a party whose headquarters is located on the borders between Abuja and Nasarawa or Abuja and Kogi. Find a party whose convention looks like an inaugural lecture. Or one whose Instagram followers can fit inside a luxurious bus. Any party with limitless losing potentials is fine really.
Ah yes! Good ol’ debates. This point is even so glaring that it has become a no-brainer.
I assure you there’s no more empirically effective way to guarantee your loss at the polls than participating in these intellectual exercises — especially for a presidential election. Case study: General Muhammadu Buhari. In 2007 and 2011, he was mounting podium up and down like a secondary school kid thirsty for medals (or wanting to make his girlfriend proud).
But, in 2015, Baba learnt his lesson the hard way and let Nigeria’s endangered political wisdom lead the way. Where are all the smart gentlemen debating policies and promises then, granting interviews like their life depended on it? Yeap! Some of them are still in the race today. Others have retired to an enviable life of “former presidential aspirant”.
And who is, today, our military head of state …. sorry, Commander-in-Chief? Your guess is as good as mine.
If you are one of those sane people who actually want to win elections, then ditch that debate. If you are sure one of the major candidates will fail to show up, you can even don your babariga of confidence, go to the venue, take a couple of pictures as proof, zoom off before they start, and then hurry to Twitter to challenge the other dude to a friendly match — that you both know will never happen.
Depend on the social media
Posters, banners, and handbills? Common man, those things are so 19th century. Where an election is truly lost is on the internet. And that is where you should focus your energy and restrict your campaign. Create beautiful electronic flyers. Share them on your Facebook page with an enormous 30,000 followers, and your verified Twitter handle with 50,000 followers — half of them bots.
You can add to this flawless strategy by saying such sensible things like the country’s “largest constituency”, which is the youth, are solidly behind and will vote massively for you — as if those climbing billboards and masts at the other rallies are youth from Chad and Benin Republic.
Be a saint
Or an idealist. Summarily, don’t play rough like the others. Be the nice kid on the queue, waiting patiently for his turn. Resist all temptations to manipulate people, especially your party members. Do not comprise. I repeat: do not compromise. Your track records as former this and that will speak for you. And if you are a great orator, even better.
The classic example here is Aunty Oby. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with her good fortune, your losing at the polls will not even be based on a balance of probability. Three or four weeks to the day of election, you already know your fate, and so you’ll be spared of any possible heart attack that may result from being declared winner.
Data back guarantee: If you do all these and still end up winning that election, please email a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org containing evidence of your compliance and a scanned copy of your INEC certificate of return. Do that and I will refund how much you must have spent on internet access to read this. Kindly note that product warranty lasts only for the next 12 years … … well, hopefully, not any longer.