By James Ogunjimi
In the first part of this essay, I pointed out instances that showed that Nigerian electorates have made settling for lesser evils in the choice of leaders a habit. In this second part, it is important to take a look at the second phase of the psychological manipulations that take place during electioneering and how winning that phase of psychological warfare is critical to changing the way elections go and the aftermath effect.
The psychological warfare waged by politicians in Nigeria is a two-faced war. We may have won one when we flung out the “Whether we vote or not, dey don know who go win” anthem, but the other side of that war is yet to be won. Until we fight and win that war, we will never truly have who we want in power. We will keep on settling.
Instead of giving up on who we think can get the job done because they are not running on the platform of a popular party, how about we support them because we know they are capable. How is it that we are trying to break free of the PDP and APC stranglehold and yet we still wish our preferred candidates ran on the platforms of those parties? How is it that we want to go to Canaan but we keep pining for the things of Egypt?
The reason why politicians who run on the platforms of these known parties win is because their political platforms manage to convince the people that the “battle” is between just two parties and that a vote for any other party asides those two is a vote wasted. From then on, the people begin to feel trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. They begin to feel that they have to choose between two devils and must choose the lesser devil.
But that is psychological warfare at play. To fight and win this second phase of the war, electorates must vote who they think is best no matter the odds stacked against him/her. You will find out that millions of people feel the same way about the person. Politicians win because people vote for them. Without people, they are not better than the ordinary man on the street.
This second phase of psychological warfare will not be shouted from campaign podiums or ring from campaign jingles; it is the ruling class’ (regardless of party) weapon of mass disillusionment. The only way to win this war is to unlearn the lies we have been told about how “The woman no fit win. If to say she dey APC.” or “The man sabi o, but he no dey PDP.”
We must stay true to ourselves. We must ditch the herd mentality of “Na PDP my grand papa and grand mama dey vote for tete.” Or “Na APC my fiancé dey support o” and just be true to ourselves. The better alternatives can only become better choices when we give them a fighting chance in our heads. The moment we write them off as doomed-to-fail in our heads, we will only be playing into the hands of the psychological warlords bent on preying on our gullibility.
When those of us who know refuse to settle for lesser devils, our thoughts, our actions will spill over and affect the psyche of those on the streets. Did PDP not share money in 2015? Did that stop anything? Forget the “no power can stop an idea whose time has come” thing; the “idea” that won in 2015 has been around since 2003, why didn’t it fly before 2015? It’s because before 2015, the people were still held captive by the manipulations of the “whether we vote or not, dey don sabi who go win” psychological war. A victory over that psychological manipulation ushered in a totally radical way of viewing things and influenced the actions of the electorates in 2015.
That second phase must be won too to allow for the emergence of a new order separate from the familiar faces that have been around our political space since 1960. It is a victory that must be won in our minds first before spilling over to influence our actions and that of those around us.