The upcoming general elections will determine who will hold important positions in the federal and state governments, from the president to the governors of our respective states, as well as members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly. These are the people who will make decisions that affect our lives, such as policies on education, healthcare, security, and the economy.
The decisions made by the people we elect will have far-reaching consequences that could affect us for years to come. By exercising our right to vote, we can ensure that our voices are heard and that our interests are represented in the corridors of power.
As young people, we often complain about the state of our country and the many challenges we face. However, we must realise that we have the power to effect change through our votes. We can elect leaders who understand our challenges and who have the vision and competence to address them.
Moreover, our participation in the electoral process sends a message to those in power that we are not indifferent to the state of our country, and that we demand accountability from our elected officials. It is our right to hold them accountable and to demand that they deliver on their promises.
I wrote about my general outlook for the 2023 general elections some weeks ago in an article that presented a simple heuristic that works for me in deciding how to vote or whom to vote for. For me, Nigeria is both an exciting and anxiety-inducing topic. I am excited by my strong conviction that the country will emerge from its challenges and achieve the prosperity it deserves, particularly through the potential of its young people. However, I am anxious due to the events and individuals that are exacerbating our problems. As a nation, it is undeniable that some of our leaders have dug us into a hole, and we as citizens have often enabled them.
It is commonly understood that the first step in escaping a hole is to stop digging. However, even in the most obvious moments of poor decision-making, we continue to make mistakes. For instance, Nigeria has a history of government inefficiency, incompetence, corruption, and lack of accountability that are hindering our progress. We must first stop digging and then work our way out of the hole. Other countries, which are less fortunate than us, have successfully turned things around in a shorter time frame and under worse circumstances. It all starts with removal, not addition.
This brings me to the concept of Via Negativa, which involves concentrating on what we should not do or what we should stop doing. We must eliminate bad habits, poor leadership, and bad situations from our national life and avoid them consistently in the first place.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes the concept of Via Negativa in his book “Antifragile” as “the principle that we know what is wrong with more clarity than what is right and that knowledge grows by subtraction.” Actions that remove are more robust than those that add because addition may have unseen, complicated feedback loops. The best way for a person or organisation to become more antifragile and gain from setbacks and chaos, rather than just surviving, is to first decrease downsides, which consist of the people, actions, habits, and systems that make us vulnerable to volatility and risk. Success is achieved by avoiding big mistakes, like overspending your income or becoming unreliable and incompetent because of a bad team. Success is also achieved by not digging yourself into a hole and ensuring that you eliminate the chances thereof and build from there.
In political systems, a good mechanism is one that helps remove the bad guys. For the bad guy can cause more harm than the collective actions of good ones. Therefore, for me, the choice is about eliminating the highest number of charlatans from getting into government. That is how I will vote in 2023.
As I weigh the candidates for the upcoming Nigerian elections, I ask myself: Who clearly communicates what they will and won’t do? Who will prioritise accountability and root out corruption? Who is ready to stop adding to the problems and instead remove the obstacles that hold back Nigeria?
As young people, we must all recognise the power that we have and use it wisely. We must educate ourselves on the issues, scrutinise the candidates, and make informed decisions at the ballot box. When we cast our vote, we are making a statement about what we believe in and what we want for ourselves, our communities, and our country. Our vote is a powerful tool that allows us to shape the future and create the kind of world we want to live in.
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