Almost everywhere you turn, the discussions centre on politics. It is another general election year in Nigeria and so it is not surprising that the streets, offices and media are all agog with political discussions. My friend, Opeyemi Tegbe returns with another political post on why all eligible voters must vote, enjoy it.
The beauty of democracy lies in the ability of the citizens to rule and not being ruled by an alien power. Hence, the ultimate rulers of our democracy should not be the political leaders but the voters. However, the degree of participation of eligible and concerned citizens is very fundamental to the development of democracy in any nation.
Over the years, statistics have shown poor turnout of voters during elections in Nigeria. As a result, we need to convince ourselves of the necessity attached to voting in any democracy. Frankly speaking, why millions of people turn out to vote in every national election in Nigeria and other large democracies is one of the persistent mysteries in the rational theory of politics. In fact, some people believe that individual voting is irrational as one vote will not stop the emergence of the winner in an election. Contrary to this opinion, I am here to point out to all well-meaning Nigerians the reasons why they need to vote in this forthcoming general election. There are a lot of reasons for us to exercise our voting right in the forthcoming election but the next few paragraphs of this write up will cover some of them.
1. CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN:
President Obama, while speaking in an international conference in Greece, said one of the means by which countries of the world can manage current fall in prices of petroleum products in the global market is ‘efficient management of resources.’ In reality, you and I know that this condition, as advised by the American president comes with good leadership which can only be achieved if we get it right with our democratic process. Unfortunately for my beloved country, Nigeria happens to be one of the few countries that are ‘directly’ affected by the current global economic situation as sales of crude oil is the live wire of our revenue base. Truly, the world economic atmosphere currently features unpleasant and unfavourable conditions but leadership can make the difference from one country to another. The choice is ours if only we decide to choose!
2. ‘FALSE’ REPRESENTATION OF MAJORITY:
I will like to start by using a simple illustration. If as a farmer, I have resources to grow 100 plants of a particular cash crops and I need 51 plants to be fruitful before I can meet my budget. Ordinarily, if a plant goes bad, the probability that it will affect my profit is 0.01(1/100) which is obviously insignificant. But what if all plants go bad? The reasoning goes that, if everybody thought that voting was irrational and a waste of time, majority would not vote and democracy would collapse. As electorates, the essence of election is to join forces with people that are thinking the same way you do. The mind of ‘majority’ must be truly represented and this can be achieved if all eligible voters participate.
3. ELECTORAL MANIPULATION:
Generally, I believe that one of the ways to manipulate elections is by disenfranchising voters and the more people participate, the more difficult it is to manipulate the result of any polls. Poor turnout has always been an avenue for political hooligans to manipulate results. However, I believe that disenfranchisement is of two types namely: Self-induced and process-induced. The self-induced type is when an electorate, whether intentionally or otherwise, decides not to vote; while the process-induced is as a result of faulty electoral process.
Well, according to the INEC chairman, with the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks, there is no excuse for the commission (INEC) not to ‘significantly’ conclude the distribution of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). I so much appreciate his choice of word “significantly.” In arithmetic and statistics, significance means 95% and above. I was prompted to write this piece when I saw the figures recently reported by INEC as per eligible voters who have shown the willingness to vote by collecting their PVC. The details revealed that 79% of the PVCs have just been distributed and thus the commission claims that 21% would have been disenfranchised if the election was not postponed but I disagree with this position. Our last population census revealed that about 65% of Nigerians fall within age 18 and above which is approximately about 90,000,000 people as against the 70,383,427 people registered by INEC. This simply shows that about 20,000,000 voters have already been disenfranchised in the registration process. This does not look good for the present and future of our democracy. We must bear in mind that if we decide to disenfranchise ourselves, we are indirectly calling for the manipulation of our economy and the wellbeing of the nation for years to come.
We cannot continue to sit in the corners of our rooms and condemn our leaders, most especially when you have no contribution to the emergence of such leaders. A New Nigeria is not possible without our choice. Don’t allow others to decide your future. This, evidently, may subvert the purposes of democracy. As INEC postpones the distribution of PVC till 08 March 2015, I implore all Nigerians to do the possible best in ensuring that they get their PVC and cast votes wisely. By March 8th 2015, I hope all states would have reached the same level of turnout in Zamfara state, where a very large chunk of registered voters have already collected their PVCs, and if possible, surpass it. It is our call, so let us all answer with full determination.