Poor Nigerian voters. The more they think they are in control, the greater their illusion. After the parties have worked the electorateinto a frenzy, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), is forced to shift the February polls to March/April. As usual, while the politicians trade blame, Nigerians,the poor victims of a gravely dysfunctional country, are handed six weeks to lick their psychological wounds. As INEC chairman has urged, Nigerians are compelled to keep hope alive.Few days before the polls were shifted, all the people I interacted with, had made up their minds over the presidential candidates, they will vote for; and their reasons were as a diverse as the people that make up our dear pseudo-federal republic of Nigeria.Those I spoke with included artisans, public servants, professionals and business people.They were mainly Igbo and Yoruba, with a few others, from the Delta. Our informal discussion revolved around who they will vote for,and why, between the two leading presidential candidates, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.For those angling for Gen. Buhari, the major reason they prefer him, is his reputation as an incorruptible person. They claim that if he makes it to the presidency, many of the Nigerian elite, who indulge in corrupt practices would have a tough time ahead. They cite his ascetic life style, despite his exposure to political offices. Among this group, corruption is viewed as the major challenge facing the nation, and they belief a Buhari presidency will kill the debilitating corruption ravaging our country. Indeed for many within this group, should Buhari win, many corrupt elites will simply join the next available flight, out of the country.Another major argument of those supporting a Buhari presidency is believe that he will defeat the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east. They argue that as a former military leader, he will run the insurgents out of the country, with ease. They excitedly refer to his exploits as former commander of the Third Armoured Division, based in Jos; when he reportedly chased insurgents into a neighbouring country.Again this group believe that the army will be more committed to the fight against the insurgents than they are under President Jonathan, a civilian. In fact, some even tout the unrealistic claim that the General will lead the fight.On the flip side, the strongest argument against Gen. Buhari is that he comes from a tribal group that has ruled Nigeria for the longest period, and as such he should allow President Jonathan, a minority,from oil bearing region of the country, another chance. They also argue that should Buhari become a president, there will be a resurgence of the born-to-rule mentality, and the unfair privileges and access to government offices by the Hausa-Fulani, as in the past. They cite examples when they had preferential treatment with regards to promotions in the public service. They also raised issues about Buharis sponsors.Another major worry of those against Buharis presidency is his excessive strictness; indeed, many used very harsh words against him. They cite many of the claims in a campaign documentary as evidence, and even when one points out that some of the claims may not be true, considering the time when it happened, the claim that he has no mercy sticks with them. Here, there is also the claim that he bears responsibility for some of the violence in the north, considering some of his outbursts, when he claimed that the elections were rigged against him.For President Jonathan, his supporters claim that he has turned around the economy, for better. They cite the claim by the Minister for Agriculture that Nigeria is now nearly self-sufficient in rice production. They are also excited that our economy is now the biggest in Africa, and according to government officials the preferred destination for direct foreign investment in Africa. Another claim they make is that Nigeria has under the government of President Jonathan become a net exporter of cement. Still on the economy, they tout the claim that corruption has been eliminated in the distribution of fertiliser.The other strong claim by the supporters of the President is that he has done well with infrastructure, citing the famous Ore-Benin highway, and the revived railway. They also cite the privatisation of the power sector, which they claimed the past presidents could not do. They relay the claim by the government that ghost workers have been eliminated in the civil service, and that he has spread universities across the states that had none. One major claim based on sentiment is that coming from the Niger Delta, Jonathan deserves a second term.On the flip side, there is the contention that the president is soft on corruption. They cite the fuel and kerosene subsidy scam. Also the pension fraud and the allegations against the NNPC and other major government agencies. Another major issue against the president is the rampaging insecurity in the country and debilitating unemployment. They argue that the President lacks the capacity to fight the Boko Haram menace, despite the huge resources allocated to the military over the years. Like the argument against the Hausa-Fulani aristocrats, there is the argument that young Niger Delta Turks have replaced the former, particularly in accessing unearned privileges. Indeed many contend that their excesses contribute significantly to the ascendency of corruption in the country.Notably, none of those I encountered raised query over the position of the candidates, with regards to restructuring of the country. Again, though ethnic bias is a factor for the preferences, there were strong supporters of the two candidates across the two major ethnic groups. Since I am not anexpertise on voters attitude, I hope the delay will not result in apathy and change of preferences.The post The dilemma of the Nigerian voter appeared first on The Nation.]]> Click here to read full news..