Recent events have shown why it is necessary for all of us to get involved in electing those who represent us. It is tempting to stay cooped up in our apartments while elections go on, after all, “our votes don’t count and they will rig it las las.” But the effects of not voting are so grave that it can plunge almost half of Nigeria’s population into poverty or cause the death of many people. Just like we have experienced in the last few weeks, our democracy is threatened in many ways and whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, Nigeria affects us all.
Contrary to many people’s belief, the presidential and governorship elections are not the most important in Nigeria. Yes, the decisions of the president or governor of a state affect us all, but the actions and inactions of every single elected person – from the lowest position of power to the highest seat – can make or mar the people. Sanai Agunbiade, the representative of Ikorodu I Constituency, hoarding the palliatives meant for people just so he can share them on his birthday is proof that many things can be approved at the federal or state level but may still not trickle down to the people who need them the most.
We are at a point where many Nigerian youths are gingered to fight for a better country, and there have been talks of ‘kicking’ out the old people in power, come 2023. But guess what? We don’t have to wait until 2023 before we ensure that we have competent leaders. The road to having a better Nigeria is long and we have to start now. How can we do this?
Get your voter’s card
Although Nigeria’s population is about 206 million, we have only 84,004,084 registered voters. Of the 84 million registered voters, only 26,726,836 Nigerians cast their vote during the last presidential election, which is way below average. If we want our voices to be heard, we have to participate in politics by ensuring that we go out to vote for the candidate we believe is capable of moving this country forward. Don’t be deceived into thinking that your votes do not count. If that were to be the case, politicians would not be sharing cups of rice and garri, frying akara, or roasting corn just to encourage people to vote for them.
Already have your card?
Awesome! For those of us who have our cards, now is the time to shine. There are 11 pending National and State Houses of Assembly bye-elections coming up (they were scheduled for Saturday, 31st October, 2020, but have been postponed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The scheduled polls are Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Bayelsa West Senatorial District, Nganzai State Constituency, Borno State, Bayo State Constituency, Borno State, Cross River North Senatorial District and Obudu State Constituency, Cross River State, Imo North Senatorial District, Lagos East Senatorial District and Kosofe II State Constituency, Plateau South Senatorial District, Bakura State Constituency, Zamfara State and Ibaji State Constituency, Kogi State.
It is important to vote both at the lowest and highest levels. Having a say in who represents us at the grassroots level means we can hold them responsible when certain things go wrong. Like when palliatives go missing.
Before you vote…
Know who and who will be representing you, their qualifications, their experiences, their portfolio, how innovative they are, and so on. We live in a global world and it is important for those who represent us to be in tune with the time we live in. Else, we’ll be stuck with having bicycles and okada as empowerment programs.
Here’s a list of some of the candidates contesting to occupy senatorial/house of assembly seats:
Bakori State House of Assembly
Bakura State House of Assembly
Bayelsa Central Senatorial District
Bayelsa West Senatorial District
Ibaji State House of Assembly, Kogi State
Imo North Senatorial District
Bayo State House of Assembly, Borno State
Isi-Uzo State House of Assembly, Enugu
Kosofe II State House of Assembly, Lagos
Lagos East Senatorial District
Nganzai State House of Assembly, Borno
Plateau South Senatorial District
Source: INEC Nigeria
Knowing the people who want to represent us at different levels, their past achievements – or the lack of it, and their qualifications will help us make better decisions on whether or not we should vote for them.
Let’s all take responsibility. The road to a better Nigeria will be a long and bumpy one but we can make this work by ensuring that people who are not qualified do not sniff political seats. Don’t dull, cast ya vote.