Influence of Political Leaders on Citizens During and After Elections.

The kind of leadership a nation or community elects to supervise it’s activities has direct correlation to the behaviour of the citizens”. Andrews k . 2017. Whereas there seems widespread agreement among politicians and journalists that the impact of a political leader on citizens during and after elections is substantial, electoral researchers again and again fail to observe such effects in their analysis. In this paper, we contend that party leaders influence citizens (voters) behaviour directly and indirectly. Dr. Honeyman said, ” for many people, elections are all about the political parties, what policies they have,ability of the political parties to win the political arguments. Some voters will be lifelong supporters of their chose party while others will change their voting preference depending on the big issues at each election “. But the pertinent question here is what about the political leaders? What influence do they command on the citizens during electioneering and afterwards? How do they monster such kind of support they get at every given election from the citizenry?

The political leaders are very crucial, they will almost certainly be the most visible and high profile members of their party and might well be the embodiment of their political parties in the minds of the electorate. Nigeria has seen different political leaders dating back to the precolonial era and all these past leaders have applied different political ideologies and concepts which greatly influenced citizens during elections and beyond. Some tends to use different leadership styles like autocratic democratic or laissez -faire while others possibly combines all for effective leadership, influence and establishment of a democratic norm.

People who lived during and after independence days have certain traits instilled in them by political leaders such as Alhaji Tafawa Balewa who at his time, aroused the consciousness spirit of the citizens through his eloquent and powerful speeches and adherence to the principles he articulated. Such speeches as thus “…….a truly public-spirited person should accept public office not for what he can get for himself – such as the profit and glamour of office – but for the opportunity which it offers him of serving his people to the best of his ability, by promoting their welfare and happiness”. Vanguard Newspaper 2016; thereby gaining support of the citizens during and after elections.

Alhaji Shehu Shagari’ s style of campaign and leadership impacted seriously on the behavioural tendencies of the citizenry during and after the elections. Evident in one of his speeches, ” My vision for Nigeria…. ” our problems are many and varied but they are not insurmountable, if we can sink our differences and work like a team, with everyone willingly contributing his quota”. Olaitan A. 2015. This endeared the citizens to him, thereby nicknaming him, ‘ the man with the long cap’. He was one leader Nigerians cannot write-off when it comes to leadership and its influence on citizens attitudes during and after elections. This was attributed to his style of leadership which changed the lukewarm attitudes of Nigerians towards agriculture and everyone going back to the farm courtesy of his green revolution policy.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was a political leader whom I personally believe that has the Lion and the Fox traits combined, as advised by Machiavelli, in his book, “The Prince”. Being a one time General in the Army and a former Head of State who could get his bidding done in a coercive manner and a civilian gentleman who could allow the opinions of the majority to be heard and negotiates or lobbies his way into achieving the goals he set for himself as a leader. His antecedents as the first General of the eight Generals to rule Nigeria since independence to have given up power voluntarily and returned Nigeria to a democratic administration speaks volume of his kind of leader who put the interests of the citizens above personal interest. According to Norimitsu, “regarded in Africa and in the West as the defender of democracy….having presented himself as a safe bridge between the military regime and civilian administration”. Norimitsu 1999.

Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua, a sagacious and brave leader performed exceptionally well as a former Governor of Katsina State before contesting for the post of the President. His giant strides as a Governor in education, strict observance to the rule of law and public declaration of his assets as the first Governor in Nigeria to do so, endeared him to many during and after the election. His achievement as a President within a short while, changed the perception of the citizens towards him after the flawed election that brought him to power, of which he admitted that “the election that brought me as President had shortcomings and vowed electoral reforms to correct the system”. Jasmine and Adewola. 2016. 30 days after he took oath of office, he voluntarily declared his assets again and made a detailed list and worth of the assets. He was also credited to the peace that lasted in the Niger-Delta region throughout his tenure as a result of the amnesty granted to the militants which boosted oil production in Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan been the calm and easy speaking leader whose now so popular campaign speech thus;” I was not born rich, ….in my youth, I never imagined that I would be where I am today, but not once did I ever give up……. In my early days in school, I had no shoes, no school bags but I never despaired…… There were days I had only one meal but I never despaired….. Fellow Nigerians, if I could make it, you too can make it”. Nigerian Voice 2010. Such political stunts tends to sink into the citizens (voters) during elections, thereby having a renewed sense of feeling that the political leader is one of them, has experienced what they are currently experiencing and believing that if such leader could get to such a position in life, they also could achieve it. This greatly influenced citizens to massively vote and elect him as president in 2011. His demeanour created space for free speeches, respect for rule of laws and other human rights culminating into massive civil unrest and internal party feuds.

The essence of this piece is not to draw appraisal or criticism of any political leader, past or present but to expose areas where political leaders consciously or unconsciously exploited to deceive and influence the citizenry during political campaigns even when such leaders know that they are only promoting their personal agenda, thereby make believe that humans can touch the stars in the sky just by a stretch of their hands. Andrews Krow said, “one maybe a good political figure but may lack what it takes to control his immediate environment and such people face this challenge mostly because of their openness and closeness to whoever comes close to the environment, such leaders attempt to please all compatriots but end up creating hawks and bad friends around them”. Andrew k. 2017. Finally, leadership will continue to remain an indefinite puzzle to a country as Nigeria and political concept which Alfred de Grasia calls ” charismatic leaders ” can be made to appear not so special or awesome so as to enable vulnerable citizens especially the voting populace decipher Political Eagles from the Political Vultures during elections or political campaigns to decide their future.

3 thoughts on “Influence of Political Leaders on Citizens During and After Elections.

  1. A great piece I dare say, in your analysis.

    Like

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