THESE days, many Nigerians believe there is no hope for Nigeria due to corruption, insecurity and economic difficulties in the country. If the average Nigerian is asked on the streets about the state of the nation, he rarely uses favorable terms to describe this state. Most people would describe the nation through their experience of hunger, suffering, death threat, anxiety, depression, joblessness, and poor education. Some Nigerians have assumed the country would have collapsed by now. However, on the other hand, the Nigerian community abroad is among the most respected immigrant community in the world. This has drawn so much respect from Nigerians that they leave Nigeria to continue their studies in the United States, Europe or Canada. In the United States, the Nigerian community is ranked among the most educated, and most of its immigrants have at least a first degree. Nigerians who attended a public university in Nigeria are likely to secure admission to the best universities in the world, including Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke and the University of Edinburgh.

Also, students educated at a Nigerian public university can work and compete in any organization without earning an additional degree outside of Nigeria. Finally, doctors graduating from different medical schools in Nigeria are distributed in world-class international hospitals. These doctors do not need an additional qualification to practice in the UK, US or China. Other African countries in the diaspora also admire Nigerian communities for their resilience and survival strategies. Due to this point of view, many Nigerians pride themselves on identifying with Nigeria abroad more than they would while living in Nigeria. There is pride, respect and pedigree in saying you are an overseas Nigerian. Thus, a Nigerian’s view of Nigeria differs locally from how it is seen by some international communities and Nigerians in the diaspora. To all our presidential hopefuls in 2023, have you reflected in your manifesto what it means to be a Nigerian at home and what it means to be a Nigerian in the diaspora?

How to bring Nigerian pride and glory back to Nigeria by restoring hope and a sense of future in the mind of every Nigerian back home? What would you do to close this gap? We recently saw how many presidential hopefuls have traveled abroad to address the Nigerian community in the UK, US and Canada. However, most people in the diaspora do not even have a voting card. Our political leaders are the only people standing between the perception of Nigeria abroad and the experience and perception of Nigerians in Nigeria. Nigerians from all regions are not mean, lazy or disposable. Nigerians are hardworking, educated, book smart, brave and curious people. If Nigerians have good leaders who can guide them correctly, they will compete with any developed nation in the world. We have the population and natural resources necessary to be a leading nation in the world.

Politicians have previously divided the masses, using tribalism, ethnicity and regionalism to their advantage. Unfortunately, Nigeria is still on the fringes of these divisions. As a presidential hopeful, this is a great challenge for you, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Peter Obi, Abubakar Atiku and Rabiu Kwankwaso. If the masses give you their love and trust in February 2023, would you continue to use politics of corruption, patronage, ethnicity and religion to divide Nigerians? I advise any candidate who wins the 2023 election to take advantage of his victory to build a stronger Nigeria, a patriotic Nigeria and an attractive Nigeria. The world expects a lot from us. The world has a lot of respect for Nigeria and Nigerians and has a lot to learn from us. Would you be a patriotic leader when you are elected president? Would you break the genes of religious divide and ethnicity to reward competition, productivity and build a better Nigeria? For Nigerian voters and masses, if there is ever a time to use our voting rights wisely and effectively, it is now.

The world is watching and waiting to see the leaders we will elect in 2023. These leaders can lead us to a better and stronger economy, unite Nigeria and create the right environment for a prosperous, corruption free and adventurous Nigeria. Nigeria. This election will reflect how focused and united we are as a people. Going to our voting units, tribe, religion, money and regionalism should be the last thing we should vote for. Instead, our votes should be based on the integrity, competence, patriotism, and progressiveness of our applicants. Nigerian youth and the public must not be intimidated by political hegemony and rhetoric about electoral fraud. As is always evident, the Nigerian masses must unite to oppose intimidation before, during and after the elections. Nigeria belongs to all of us, the poor, the rich, the disabled, men, women, children, Muslims, Christians, the non-religious and the faithful indigenous Africans. We must learn to speak with one voice. Never forget that we must live together as one. The Nigerian people should not give up their heritage and homeland; instead, we must hold our leaders to the highest standards and be accountable to the people who elected them. We should network and come together to build a nation of Nigerians, and the world would be proud.

For INEC, you stand between the Nigerian population and presidential and gubernatorial aspirants. INEC must be independent and impartial in the electoral process. It must be independent of the Nigerian government, presidential hopefuls, all other hopefuls, and religious and ethnic organizations. The Nigerian people have not given up on you. The Nigerian people have higher expectations of this current INEC than the INEC of the past. I implore you to make a difference in the 2023 Nigerian elections. May this election answer the quest and cry for a New Nigeria. A Nigeria that you and future generations will be proud of. If this is done, hope, confidence and patriotism will return to the average Nigerian at home and in the diaspora. God bless Nigeria, God bless INEC and God bless all Nigerians at home and abroad.

  • Sir Kefas writes from the University of Iowa, United States at