Why Bainimarama Leads In The Popularity Stakes
Political rhetorics will not cut it with people in the run-up to next year’s general election.
The fact is people want substance. They want action. They want to see tangible evidence of things actually happening, not just mere words.
Those of us who have survived the political turmoil from 1987 to 2000, in one of the darkest periods of our history, have learned from our bitter experiences.
People are lot smarter now. They can discern what is fact from fiction. We do not want to relive those terrible experiences of false promises and politics of fear and division.
Politicians who still hang on to the kind of politics that is reminiscent of that dark era will become irrelevant.
They need to realise that most, if not all of Fiji, want to bury that past and move forward. People will no longer allow themselves to be hoodwinked by ideologies that breed ethnic and religious hostilities and conflicts. Some politicians thrive on them because they benefit from them.
The 2014 General Election outcome gave an emphatic statement that many people want change. And change they did.
They want development and progress. They hate and resent politicians who promise the world before an election but fail to deliver.
They will remember them come the next election and we have a few in this category in the current crop of politicians.
Our young and first time voters who were either not born or too young to remember the tragic events that unfolded during that dark period know only one way – enjoying a reasonable living standard in a free, safe, stable and peaceful environment.
That’s the experience they are going through now and will resist any attempt to wind the clock back.
Politicians who want success in next year’s general election must use these two scenarios as the basis of a template for their election platform or manifesto.
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and FijiFirst used them in the last election and won resoundingly.
They have been relentless in building and expanding this winning formula. The way they are going right now suggests they could be heading to another landslide victory in next year’s general election.
Mr Bainimarama is not only leading the race but showing the way to other politicians. He is leading by example that nothing beats people-to-people contact on the ground.
This strategy always works whether you are dealing with people in the Suva-Nausori corridor, the most densely populated part of the electorate, or the remote Vaturova District in Cakaudrove.
Talking about Vaturova, Mr Bainimarama earned the distinction of being the first Prime Minister to set foot on Naiyarabale Village in the Vaturova District.
Despite a flooded Naiyarabale River Mr Bainimarama and his team braved the swift currents helped by the village young men in an old boat.
His determined effort to cross the river under the prevailing circumstances won the hearts of the people.
They came out in great numbers to welcome their hero. They have heard him on radio, saw him on TV and newspapers.
This was the first time they were seeing him in person and it was cause for celebration. He was accorded a full traditional welcome ceremony befitting a chief.
The presentation of a big green yaqona plant and roots, normally presented to chiefs, symbolises the respect and appreciation they have for Mr Bainimarama.
This is the heart of SODELPA county. SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka is from Drekeniwai, Navatu, Cakaudrove.
But people have seen the development carried out by the Bainimarama Government and they like it. This was relayed to the PM during the traditional welcome ceremony at Naiyarabale.
They no longer feel isolated or forgotten. That’s the crux of the matter.
Irrespective of where they live, people will warm to politicians who come down to their level, be willing to engage with them in talanoa sessions and show they do care.
In Mr Bainimarama’s case, he wastes no time in dealing with people’s grievances on the spot like the electricity connection for Dreka Settlement in Macuata.
After waiting for three years, the residents were told by Mr Bainimarama that they would get electricity by July. That’s the kind of service people want. That’s why Mr Bainimarama is popular with the common people.