The Beginner’s Guide to Winning Elections in Nigeria


It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. It is election period in Nigeria.

Here are a few things to expect: Long abandoned projects will be completed, new ones will be commissioned, over due salaries will be paid. Please do not be shocked, as this is just the barest minimum.

But that’s expected from those in government, people like you who are new to the system will need some help through the murky waters of Nigerian politics. This guide will equip you with strategic and tactical advice. Where are your writing pads?

This is a word or phrase that will headline your campaign. I advise that you choose a word, and a catchy one. It should sound slightly high faluting, so we know you’re the real deal; yet easy to chant, because campaigning is mostly shouting your slogan and some other sweet nothings. So let it sound something like this: “ Transformation 2019!” or “New Dawn ’19!”. There’s no need to know the meaning as you’ll never have need to explain. Choose wisely

It should be loud and aggressive, as we are a nation of noise. Picture something on a large field, with huge banners that have your face plastered on them. There should be a stage with at least twenty people on it at once, because the rowdier the merrier. Ensure that while people are speaking there is some Nigerian music playing concurrently to spice up things.

Please do not go there and give some PowerPoint presentation showing how you plan to revolutionize the health sector and provide quality education. If you give a presentation showing your well laid out plans for your promises, we will lose interest and start to have doubts about you. Those who the PowerPoint will interest are not at that rally. Also, no aspire to inquire your desire. We don’t do that here.

Instead, the focus of what is said should be the failings of the outgoing government. What if the outgoing government was a good administration? Really? Perhaps I should stop this lesson if you can ask a question like that. So focus on the how terrible the government has been and how much they need to be voted out. No, not voted out, kicked out. Write that down.

There are two major parties, which in reality, are both a single party but for official purposes, and the sake of unhealthy competition, they pose as 2 separate parties. It is okay to defect to another party, and as many times as the need arises. As Barack Obama once said, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. It wasn’t Obama? Forgive me, I tend to mix these things up.

There are other small parties, but they exist to help us keep hope alive, representing an ideal that we can look unto in moments of despair. A number of them have good organization and would do well if elected in, but the Nigerian political structure has no space for them yet. So please, don’t go and join any of these, because the aim is to win, not inspire to acquire your desire.

In the words of our distant relative, Karl Marx, religion is the opium of the oppressed. Nigerian leaders have consistently used poverty as a weapon to oppress its masses. In fact, did you know that in 2018 we unlocked a new level, and won the medallion for the poverty capital of the world? But I digress.

If you’re not a religious man, you need to choose one to be identified with. There are 2 options to choose from: Christianity or Islam. What about African Traditional Religion? I pity you. It’s the right time to mention that before those two aforementioned, our national religion is hypocrisy. So if you proceed to identify as an Ifa follower, you will be labeled a pagan and an idol worshipper, and we will want nothing to do with you.

So if it’s Christianity, worship at churches with large congregations, attend special programs, thanksgiving services especially. Donate money, bags of rice, bags of cement, and make sure pictures are taken.

Asides giving donations to churches/mosques, you will need to give money out freely, in small and large amounts. We Nigerians love nothing more than a humble and generous rich man. Yes, I know, it’s your money, but if you don’t spend it on us, we will assume you are a proud man and we will not vote for you.

Nigerian politicians are one of the highest paid in the world. How is that possible when we’re the poverty capital of the world? That’s not important, you need to stop asking all these kind of questions. My point is that you need not worry as you will get all the money back as soon as you get elected.

Though you do all I have said above, you are nothing without a godfather, a baba isale that will have your back. Why have you stopped writing? Because I have told you the truth? That is the reality so you better face it.

The godfather might as well be a god. Why? Because he ensures there is no such thing as internal democracy as he is able to determine who gets chosen by the party to contest election, and is also able to guarantee the victory of that candidate.

So you see, your political fortune lies in his hands, and without him you can do nothing. He can make or break you. Therefore, prepare to grovel, and grovel some more.

This where I stop. I have not said it all, but I believe I have given you some important guidelines. If you follow them, you should survive the jungle of Nigerian politics, and perhaps even emerge victorious.

I leave you with these revised words of John Lyly: “The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war…and Nigerian politics.”

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What do you think?

  1. Great Article Dupe. Simply Awesome! Very true, funny and sad all at once! You got me at “Also, no aspire to inquire your desire. We don’t do that here.” 😂

  2. Worth an intriguing picture of our political jungle! We can only hope for a better Nigeria. More ink to your pen, Modupe.

  3. It’s funny, mostly, at least to some of us who don’t take Nigeria’s issues personally. Welldone

  4. This is what a satire looks like. Funny and biting. Thanks for this insight into elections in Nigeria. I enjoyed it, and now, I think I’ll just run for a post 😂

  5. Lovely piece, Mo. The Nigerian situation defies logical reasoning. The politicians of the Poverty Capital are among the highest paid in the world. Indeed there is no fair play in Nigerian politics.

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