Will Nigerians rise to the occasion and redesign Nigeria with their votes? I know that surviving has been difficult for many and better for a few. Democracy is a game of numbers and this is why Nigerian voters should understand their situations and identify individuals who best fit the Nigeria of their dreams. They should not do this only because of religion, region or political party. Since the return of democracy in 1999, poverty, criminal victimisation and unemployment and the effects of poor leadership have not spared any person because he or she comes from the North or South, Muslim or Christian. If a society deserves the type of leadership they get, it means a lot rests on the finger of eligible voters. In your hands lie the future of Nigeria and you should be ready to bear the consequences of your voting decisions. Before voting, it is important that you review where we are coming from as a country to understand why we arrived at our present situation. The combination of the past and present conditions should inform and guide you to make right choices for the future that you desire.
We are where we are partly because we have always elected bad or misfit people into government. A few people lie to us and turn one ethnic group against another to enslave their people and after that, the same tribesman who had painted one political party as evil goes back to the evil party to make money for himself and his family. In 2014, we know how our economy was and how it is today. We know that Goodluck Jonathan was to be voted out because of infirmity of control over his government and the endemic corruption. Candidate ‘Saint’ Muhammadu Buhari was repackaged by those who had expressed reservations about his person but that was the only route to the realisation of their dreams. Almost eight years after his emergence, corruption is deep-rooted in low and high places in audacious dimensions. Policies of government are poorly conceived or wholesale imported without domestication. Today, 130 million Nigerians, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), experience multidimensional poverty.
Unfortunately, most political campaigns leading to the 2023 polls have been urban-based and those who visited rural areas did so to patronise them for votes and may never return there until another election season. Budgetary allocations to education and health have not been encouraging. The nosediving fortunes in the education and health sectors contributed to the “Japa’’ syndrome which now puts the lives of many Nigerians at risk because of shortage of skilled physicians and specialists.
Monetary poverty is across the nation but not above fifty per cent. The price of Premium Motor Spirit hovers around N257.12 according to NBS. Still, fuel is scarce and depositors cannot get their money from banks. Their money has been kidnapped by the Emefieleistic naira redesign policy and its faulty implementation. Yet, this Buhari-led government asked people to exercise patience.
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While so much has been spent to equip the security systems, the North East is still afflicted with insurgency and banditry, North Central with farmer-herder conflict, militancy and insurgency while South South is battling militancy, secessionists’ movement, banditry and cultism. The victims of armed robbery and kidnapping on Nigeria’s hellish highways won’t forget in a hurry. Some people have left the country on account of insecurity; others due to perceived hopelessness for their future in Nigeria. While many variables account for crime occurrence, the failure of government to tackle the causative factors contributed to its pervasiveness.
However, notwithstanding the bad economy, accumulation of foreign debts and security setbacks, the Muhammadu Buhari government recorded successes in infrastructure, train rejuvenation and signing of a revised electoral act among others.
Presidential and National Assembly elections hold in a few hours. This is the only opportunity that democracy has given to you to determine who governs and impacts your life for another four years. You may decide to vote along ethnic lines but remember that poverty, insecurity and unemployment do not isolate one ethnic group. You may decide to vote based on religion but remember that all religious groups are now facing reduction in church and mosque attendance as well as reduction in offerings because of one poorly implemented policy. Are you planning to vote along party lines? Remember that the Peoples Democratic party ruled for 16 years and you replaced them with the All Progressives Congress, which has not been a better substitute. Are you voting for personality? Check out how many times those contesting have had to jump from one political party platform to another including forming and switching alliances. The point here is that one variable is not sufficient to elect somebody into political office and certainly, not on primordial sentiments. If we elect bad people, it is because we are bad ourselves. We elect people who represent our views about life and about how public offices should be run. Ahead of voting, try to honestly answer these questions: what kind of Nigeria do I desire? Is it a Nigeria in which the majority enthrones the minority for the enjoyment of the minority and the punishment of the majority for their foolishness? Or a Nigeria in which the majority elect people who think and act in the best interest of the majority? Or a Nigeria in which the majority elect those interested in holding political offices to fulfill personal ambitions without any readiness for the demands of those offices? Above all, if Nigeria were to be your company and it is facing what Nigeria is experiencing, which of the candidates would you employ to rescue your company? Now that you have answered the questions, you may now go ahead, cast your vote and live with the intended and unintended consequences of your voting decision.
Dr Tade, a sociologist wrote via [email protected]
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