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Yesterday, I participated in the Annual Trust Dialogue on the theme of interrogating the 2023 Presidential Agenda. In his opening remarks, the Chair of the occasion, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, expressed the strong view that we must be optimistic that positive change is possible and that indeed the time has come to do things differently, with millions of young Nigerians ready to perform their civic duty. INEC and the State must ensure they do the needful to ensure that riggers are kept out of the ring and the choices of citizens are respected.

Finally, the campaign is getting intense and exciting. Surprisingly, the current round is taking place in  faraway Chattam House in London as key candidates and the INEC Chairman conduct political pilgrimages to a British Government policy centre in London to talk to Nigerians at home. Many Nigerians have correctly asked the question whether there is no policy think tank in Nigeria to receive politicians to air their campaign issues. The National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies has been mentioned by many as being the leading public think tank to handle such a task. I absolutely agree that the National Institute could play that role creditably. Unfortunately, it would not succeed because of the character of our political class that has disdain for our institutions. In fact, for the past decade, the National Institute has established a whole department for training and engagement with political parties where I have often participated as a resource person. In most of the meetings there I have participated in; the leadership of the so-called big political parties have either sent low level officials to represent them or sent no one in many cases. They suffer from colonial mentality and believe that Nigerian institutions are of no consequence and are therefore not deserving of their time. When they seek publicity, they pay tens of millions of Naira to key television stations to carry their programmes live.

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