Let me go straight to the point. There are people who have different opinions concerning the forthcoming elections; I want to address why you don’t want to vote and why you should if it is indeed in your power to do so.
1) Some people say, “this election is going to be tough”. It is true and that is why it is not for the faint-hearted, in my years of politicking, I have never witnessed such tough political contention in Nigeria. However, it is not an excuse to stay at home. A person who is of voting age and wants change and stays at home is doing a great disservice to the nation and is only daydreaming. It is important to face the hard fact that facebook status doesn’t vote, twitter does not vote, blackberry and whatsapp DPs don’t vote. It is when you get your voters card and step out on Feb. 14 that you can cause a change in Nigeria.
I must let you know that if you have been desiring to make a difference in the world somehow, it begins with your nation and voting in elections is your most basic form of causing social change. Nobody has an excuse not to make a difference, voting is every citizen’s basic contribution to nation-building.
2) Some say, “I will rather stay at home than risk my life at the polling booth”. The question is, how much do you love your country? Have you realised Nigeria is the only place you can call ‘home’ where you cannot be judged and can claim a right? Nigeria is also the only place you can achieve your highest political aspiration in life. If all goes well in Nigeria, all will be well with you too. Will you rather stay home on election day and let the wicked remain in power only for you to continue to keep on living in fear and insecurity each day afterwards. It is really God Almighty that protects and the way you can bring in a government that will secure you is by coming out to vote. People who caused social change like Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jnr and Mandela did not do so in the comfort of their bedroom, they came out. Food is cooked in the kitchen and change is made on the field. The question is, do you really want a change in Nigeria? Friend, you will have to come out. The truth is, it is not as risky as you think, it is fun at the booth, you talk with people, make connections, laugh at funny last minute politicking and meet old time friends. There is really nothing to fear.
3) Some people say, “I have been voting before and politicians have failed me, I am not voting this time”. Well, to those in this category, I don’t have much to say, the only true fact I’ll make is that a person that votes for the first time in this election would be making more relevant impact and would be making more valuable national contribution than a person that have voted in the last 3 elections. Why, you may ask? The reason is that NOW is the time that matters most. This election is more crucial and more defining in the history of our nation than the previous ones. What is the point leading in a race and then refusing to belt the tape, it won’t earn the medal.
4) Some say, “well, this is Nigeria, it will be rigged anyway”. Friend, this is the more reason why you should vote; to change Nigeria. The fact is, it will not be rigged anyway, there’s more confidence in the electoral process now than in the past. Remember, election was not rigged in Ekiti, Osun was a peaceful one, the electoral process restored the mandate of Oshiomole in Edo and Fayemi in Ekiti just to mention a few, it is more likely there won’t be rigging this time than the previous elections and the resolve and doggedness of the public and technology being used in this election makes chances of rigging quite slim. Nigerians came out and did it for MKO Abiola, made a change by defeating Abacha’s dictatorship, NOW is one of those crucial times in our history and we will do it again no matter what, ‘ALL of us’ is greater than ‘the rest of them’. Aside these, see the bright side of life and come out to vote, there are happier days ahead if you do so. Imagine how Nigeria would be when the right kind of people eventually gets to power.
5) Some say, “I am not voting, one candidate is somehow better than the other but is not good enough”. Candidates in elections are always not good enough but are only better than each other. One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom-fighter. There is little that can change in politics. It is better to have the most preferred than a bad leader. And usually, factors that disqualify candidates in the mind of most voters are superfluous e.g. Speech, Charisma etc. The most important factor is competence, that is what matters. Charisma does not boost agriculture or reform the educational sector. Look out for the most competent candidate and come out to vote, that is how you can make Nigeria better.
6) Some say “I can’t be staying in the sun for hours”. Well, for me, I’ll rather stay in the sun for 10 hours once in 4 years than to live each day of this next 4 years in fear, hardship and insecurity. This voting process we are talking about is just a 1 day or 2 sacrifice that can change our destiny and nation forever. I’m not saying it is convenient 100% but it is a sacrifice for the love of God and country. Furthermore, it is better to be a participant than to feel the thorn of disenfranchisement on election day. Don’t let others determine the fate of your country for you, if the selfish Nigerians enjoying the corruption can be ready to come out and vote at all cost, the righteous can only win by doing the same. Do you really love Nigeria? Do you see her as your own? You probably queued equal hours at the filling station several times last year, and if you want to change that, the best way is to come out to vote.
7) Some say, “I’m only one person out of millions of people, if I don’t vote, it doesn’t count”. Friend, who do you think make up the rest of the millions? They are singular voters like you. If everyone refuses to vote, who will win? Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. And the difference between a winner and a loser may just be your vote; thus, you may be the difference between change and corruption, insecurity and peace, employment and unemployment and that shows how important you are and your vote, you are truly ‘one in a million’. Please, take that bold step and vote, make your own contribution and leave the rest for God to bless. One man can turn the tide of history, one song can spark a moment, one flower can wake the dream, one fruitful tree can start a forest, one bird can herald spring, one smile can start a friendship, one star can guide a ship at sea, one word can frame the goal and one vote can change a nation and that vote is yours.
To those who will be voting for the first time, I advice, don’t be carried away with the euphoria of a first time voter, take it as a sacred privilege to make a difference in the nation, vote your conscience and don’t be blurred by the sentiments and propaganda being propagated by political parties. This might be your first step in securing your future. Remember, election day is the first day of the rest of your life. And to the not-so-young people who have voted all their life and have not lost hope in Nigeria in the midst of cynicism and fear, I say ‘well-done papa and mama’, you have been fighting a good fight, you might not live long enough to be able to enjoy this change you have so dearly fought for just like an elderly man whom I saw for the final time at the polling booth in the 2011 election, he was partially blind and on a wheelchair being supported by his grand-daughter, he won’t be voting in the next election but surely he has paid his dues; one thing I can assure you pa and ma is that in this election, you will be laying a good foundation behind for your children and grandchildren. I am inspired when I see people like you giving so much to a country that have paid you back so little, I say to myself ‘I really don’t have an excuse to stay at home’. I therefore appeal to everyone to kindly make a change in Nigeria if you’ll be honest and you know deep down inside of you it is within your power, to please come out to vote in this election, make effort to collect your Permanent Voters Card.
In conclusion, let me do a very brief analysis of the current government and the mindset of those in the change movement. The Jonathan government has recorded a few achievements over the course of the last 6 years no matter how corrupt it is said to be. Under him, there seem to be a wider middle class (suggestively as a result of people reinvesting their spoils of corruption from public quarters and private dealings as there’s no correlative growth on the economic indices), more educational institutions were built, there is a boom in agriculture, a few roads were constructed and renovated, we have a few new industries, the railway system have been resuscitated and the airports have been remodeled. Some are of the opinion that these achievements are too few for a period of 6 years bearing the fact that past leaders, including the opposition candidate achieved more within shorter time. Furthermore, the problem of insecurity and corruption has overshadowed these achievements and the critical sectors of the economy are obviously not working; honestly, if everyone dies, who will ride on the roads or attend the new schools? These are some of the reasons why those in the change movement are bent on voting for General Muhammadu Buhari, they are tired of hearing of 20 Billion dollars getting missing today and 2000 people dying tomorrow, 11 Billion dollars oil money getting missing, excess crude account being emptied, the Stella Oduahs in government buying bullet proof cars and the Allison-Maduekes buying aircrafts when there’s no national air carrier. They are also tired of fuel subsidy scams, pension funds management scams, 1 Trillion Naira kerosene subsidy scams, Nigerian immigration employment scheme deceit, SURE-P scandals, the indiscriminate use of the military and other governmental apparatus and obviously, the deepened political, regional and religious division currently pervading the country. Furthermore, they want the missing Chibok girls back and they don’t want so-called presidential pardon for people like Diepreye Alamieyesigha and James Ibori. They are not only waiting in the sun to collect their PVCs, they know their PVC also serves as a JMG card (Jonathan Must Go card – as they call it) so they are ready to wait even in Tsunami on election day without food and water till they vote and watch it counted and recorded. This is the little price they have to pay that lasts for 4 good years and in turn begin the change they want to see in their state and nation. APC or PDP, I believe one day Nigeria will rise again!
– Bolu’ Michael-Biyi