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Today’s rescheduled Presidential election: Why Nigerians must not give up on voting

Nothing will stop me and my members from voting—Chairman, Blind Association of Nigeria

  • If election is postponed ten times, I will still come out and vote—Trader

By Ben Agande; Wole Mosadomi; Marie-Therese Nanlong; Dirisu Yakubu; Peter Duru; Femi Bolaji; David Odama

Several months before the February 16 which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, fixed for this year’s Presidential and National Assembly elections, the electoral umpire assured the nation that it was ready for the election and there would be no postponement. Few weeks to the election, INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu even addressed a world press conference where he demonstrated how eligible voters should vote. Nigerians were therefore confident that the election would hold as scheduled while many of them travelled out of the cities to their communities where they registered to vote. But few hours before the polls were due to open, the commission announced a one-week postponement citing issue of logistics. The announcement triggered widespread anger across the country. While the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, pointed accusing fingers at the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, the ruling party itself joined other stakeholders to condemn INEC for the postponement.

Saturday Vanguard however sought to know if the initial enthusiasm and determination to vote among Nigerians have not given way to apathy as a result of the postponement and if indeed they have not given up on voting today.

Their reactions:

 

BENUE

William Kyaagba

Nigerians must not give up on voting on Saturday because it is a civic responsibility that we must all undertake despite the earlier postponement. It is a sacrifice we must all make once in four years so we must take advantage of the exercise to elect those we think should be our leaders. If we fail to do that, we will have no reasons whatsoever to complain of bad leadership in future. So, we must all turn out en masse to perform that civic responsibility in our collective interest.

Sam Onah

Though the postponement was painful because many people including my father travelled to the village to vote but they returned to town without voting. We will still go back to express our desire on who we want as leaders of our state and country. That is the only way we can express our wishes and choose those we want to lead us. If we fail to do that, we will end up being cheated because others would elect their preferred candidates to lead the country at the state and federal levels without our input.

Vote
 Voting

Deborah Chinemerem

If INEC shifts the election again, I will wait patiently because it is my right and that of every Nigerian to elect those we believe have the mental and physical capacity to lead us in this country. Though I must acknowledge that the earlier shift in date which came just few hours to the commencement of voting was painful given the enormous toll it has taken on the people and economy of the country but we must not be deterred because it is our civic duty to elect our leaders and no amount of hiccups should stop us from exercising that right given to us by the constitution of our country.

 

NIGER

Reverend Matthias Echioda

What happened last Saturday may be disappointing but as Christians,we should realise that anything that happens is with the knowledge of God and our responsibility as Children of God is to pray and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Anybody who wants good and credible governance must partake in the election process regardless of any obstacle placed on the way because nothing good comes cheap, this is why I want all Nigerians to forget about the last disappointment and vote today.

Alhaji Rabiu Abdullahi, Chairman, Blind Association of Nigeria, Minna

Nothing will stop me and members of my association from coming out to vote today because the postponement of last Saturday Elections, though painful, has now become a forgotten issue and has been put behind us. I have remobilized and sensitized them on the need to come out enmasse and vote for candidates of their choice without any sentiments because all we are after as an association and bona-fide Nigerians is to vote for a credible Nigerian who will work for all Nigerians and better our lives.

Alhaji Ibrahim Bala Ankuri

Despite the earlier disappointment, I will still vote. Though, I was disappointed last Saturday when I heard about the postponement but if they postpone it ten times, I will still come out and vote on the rescheduled date because shunning the elections is mortgaging my future. So, myself, my two wives and six children will still come out and vote today.

 

TARABA

Gabriel Yough

“Nigerians should put the shock of postponement behind them and go out to vote on Saturday. They should see the resources they are spending to travel to various places to vote as a sacrifice for a better country. America is better today because people like Martin Luther King Jr and others sacrificed heavily. South Africa is better and free today because the likes of Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko among others sacrificed almost everything for it.

Wole Ayodele

Voting is a civic responsibility that every citizen is bound to exercise. Though the postponement was regrettable due to the financial implications for those who travelled to various parts of the country to vote, but it is still imperative for Nigerians to come out in their large numbers to elect their leaders because the kind of leadership the country gets would have a far reaching implication on their lives.

Justin Tyopuusu

This election is about the future of the country and Nigerians should not be discouraged in voting this Saturday, as not doing so will amount to mortgaging their future and that of our generation yet unborn.

 

NASARAWA

Pastor John Praise Ben

Spiritually, Nigerians have been inspired to vote and choose a leader who would rule the country with the fear of God and human face. The national questions before the country begging for solutions were too enormous for the citizens to bear, as such Nigerians must come out and vote for leaders who have been inspired by God to rule.

Chief Alloysus Ekpe

Though the postponement of the elections came with its attendant consequences such as loss of interest, and hardship, Nigerians should not be disillusioned with INEC’s inability to conduct elections as scheduled. They should keep hope alive by turning out and vote for the future of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Solomon Ikang

Nigerians are ready in spite of all odds to vote in the rescheduled elections on Saturday. I urge the Federal Government, the political class and INEC to be sincere and committed in the conduct of the elections, it should not be a do or die exercise.

 

PLATEAU

Sir Fidelis Tapgun, former governor

Nigerians should remain patient and come out en-masse on Saturday to vote despite the initial setback caused by the postponement of the exercise. Though the postponement has the capacity to create apathy among voters but not participating in the exercise would not be the best.

Yusuf Machen, Chairman, Bokkos Local Government

The postponement might result in widespread voter apathy and to avert this, a door-to-door voter awareness campaign has been opened in the local. The campaign is meant to sensitize citizens on their civic rights which must be exercised regardless of challenges, as the concern is not who the voters choose as their leader but their active participation in the selection process. The shift in the elections might have been catastrophic for many Nigerians but a greater danger lays ahead for the country if citizens revolt and fail to vote. Aside determining who the preferred leader is, it is their votes that will legitimize any governmental structure in the country.

 

Tongnaan Dada-Bawa

It is important that every citizen of Nigeria should come out and vote because it is their civic right to do that so that they will not complain when the leadership fails. The count of every person count.

 

KADUNA

Mrs Aisha Garba El Rufai, wife of Kaduna state governor

Indigenes must remain calm and shun all forms and acts of violence, election malpractices, vote buying and hooliganism. We believe Kaduna state is a great state that has the potential to promote peace and unity among its diverse populace. I therefore urge us all to come out en mass to vote for their candidates in order to ensure victory at the polls slated for the 23rd February and 9th March, 2019.

 

Mr Anthony Sani, Secretary, ACF

Nigerians must set aside the disappointment of the postponement of the election and come out massively to vote. I therefore urge Nigerians not to use the set back posed by the postponement of the elections and the negative interpretations being given to the president’s remarks as basis not to turn up en mass and vote leaders of their choice.This is because bad leaders are often elected by good people who refuse to vote, and when good people do not vote, they lose their right to complain when things get awry due to failure of leadership

Dear Nigerians, go out and vote

Nigerians in their numbers are still counting the emotional, physical and economic cost occasioned by last week’s postponement of the general elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Across the land, registered voters answered the clarion call by the electoral umpire and sundry political parties to participate in the electoral process as many of them journeyed back to roots in anticipation of the big moment.

But for challenges ranging from logistics to operational, INEC shattered the emotions of many with its eleventh minute announcement of a shift. As it were, those who relocated home have been left disillusioned, wondering whether to exercise their franchise again or not.

In a country where capacity to afford three square meals is seen as an indication of affluence, the disillusionment of these Nigerians is better left to the imagination.

Here are citizens who out of sheer patriotism travelled hundreds of kilometres to their sundry destinations, bearing the cost of transportation on their own and are fated to return to base without any form of assistance from government or INEC.

But we must bear this temporary setback and fight the despondency with a will to cast our ballots today. Until we play the part of good citizenship by grabbing our civic right to enthrone good leadership, there will be no moral ground upon which to stand to condemn the leadership that is bound to emerge.

If you are still in limbo as to where to pitch your tent, do the bidding of your conscience rather than taking financial incentives to make the wrong choice.

Fellow compatriots, shunning your polling unit today for whatever reason is a disservice to our beloved nation. Elect your leaders in accordance with the dictates of your conscience.

You have heard from INEC that your vote will count; fellow Nigerians, you have no reason to be skeptical of this pledge. Leave the confines of your habitation for a little stay in the sun for the sake of your country and democracy.

Encourage everyone around you with a Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC to do same.

In the fight to enthrone the democracy we enjoy today, many were jailed without trials. Some were sentenced to sundry prison terms and yet, others paid the supreme price, leaving behind, loved ones to mourn their exit for years.

As we march out today to elect our next President and federal parliamentarians, consider this one in a lifetime opportunity to be part of the political history of your beloved fatherland.

INEC distributes sensitive materials in Benue

Do not be part of violence and resist every move to be used by anyone to infringe on the laws of the land. Vote for the candidates of your choice in a civil manner and if you notice anything unusual, report same to constituted authorities whose duty it is to maintain law and order and ensure smooth conduct of the polls.

Elections are not war and they must not be treated as such. For almost twenty years of unbroken democracy, it is a shame that what ordinarily ought to pass for a periodic national duty has become a cause for worry, anxiety and fear.

Today, the eyes of the world are on us and it is our bounteous duty to ensure the polls pass the test of transparency and credibility.

So, go out there and vote the candidates of your choice. It’s a new dawn!

 

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