By Elsie Godwin
It’s approximately three months until the Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) collection, eighty-eight days to commence the campaign by political parties in public, and two hundred and seven days to the 2023 elections. The 2019 general elections experienced a high level of voter apathy which isn’t healthy for democracy.
According to a report by the DailyTrust, in the 2019 general elections, out of a voting-age population of 106.4m, only 82 million Nigerians registered to vote, and only 28 million of those registered voters eventually voted.
With the likelihood of a third force in the presidential race for the 2023 general elections, there are some myths and conversations Nigerians must look past to rise and begin the journey to taking back democracy to what it’s really meant to be. So the four ideas you must disregard as we prepare for the next year’s elections are:
Social media doesn’t count
If social media does not count, why have the same people who have maintained this position taken roots on social media, albeit doing a haphazard job? Please do us all the favour of disregarding the idea that social media doesn’t count. Social media does count! In truth, politics is local and engaging with the grass root is important, especially in deciding candidacy for different electoral positions. However, candidates have been decided by political parties and their delegates. Now is the time to focus on the options presented by these political parties and make a decision.
If you understand the concept of Integrated Marketing and more so, how integrated communications on the various dominant social media platforms and traditional media tools in Nigeria can be, then you can begin to imagine the power social media wields. Speak your truth on whatever platform you choose and join conversations that will enlighten you concerning governance in Nigeria. The internet and social media have democratised information and power to shape minds.
Your votes don’t count
If your votes don’t count, why does vote-buying exist? If your votes don’t count, why do they snatch ballot boxes? If your votes don’t count, why have we seen videos of underaged humans vigorously thumbprinting on a ballot paper to be sent in for counting? If your votes don’t count, why do the politicians bother with campaign promises? If your votes don’t count, what is democracy?
It is not clear where the myth of votes not counting in Nigeria started from, but what is indeed clear after answering the above questions is the fact that your vote will definitely count if you get up to ensure it does. This idea has been identified as one of the major reasons for voters’ apathy in Nigeria and we must begin to educate ourselves enough, ask questions and probe these thoughts in order to do the right thing.
Waste of Vote
I read a piece regarding how difficult it will be to lead a country if perhaps the person of Mr. Peter Obi becomes the president of Nigeria. This writer alludes to the lack of national structure of his political party – the Labour Party. Interesting, however, I beg to differ. It is often said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
We have consistently for the last 23 years of democracy in Nigeria given the power to the people with said structures and allies in the legislative arm of governance with nothing to show for it. If having different people with different political parties and different interests aligned to achieve a common goal will make the difference then let’s give it a chance. We should never rule out voting for PDP, APC, SDP, LP or whatever party we find on the ballot papers come election days. We should however pay attention to the candidates we want and vote for whatever party they belong to for the particular position.
The ruling class (read The Cabal) has constantly used religion, tribe and poverty to hold control and divide us. It’s important for us to see the 2023 general elections beyond a case of it being the turn of the Igbo or the Yoruba. This is not a battle between the tribes, rather, a battle for our life, growth and sustainability. A battle for the well-being of our children and unborn children. A battle for the kind of Nigeria we dream of.
If we get it wrong in the next election, we will be getting another four to eight years of our lives wrong. Add eight years to your current age and tell me if it is not a significant number of years taken away from the average lifespan of a Nigerian. According to a report from the 2019 world population review, an average Nigerian is not expected to live beyond his or her 55th birthday.
I rest my case.
Godwin is a media personality and Marketing and Communications professional.