What does it mean to vote? The first sense of the word is tied to making a choice among competing alternatives. The second conveys a sense of civic duty.
The rhetoric of voting in the 16th February and 2nd March 2019 General elections in Nigeria, powerfully combines and conveys the essence of making a responsible civic choice. But more importantly, it communicates the need to make a decision that acknowledges and prioritize the most intrinsic persuasion of voters.
Nigeria practices representative democracy: a system that conceptually allows the wish of the majority to be projected through elected representatives. Therefore, our representative democratic system demands the active participation of you the voter.
This demanding aspect of democracy can partially explain the increased intensity of political rallies, radio jingles and calls-to-civic-duty being made by “influencers” with competing motivations. The intensity of the messaging regardless, your vote must reflect your fears, your anxieties, your desires, your hope, your dreams and your aspiration for self, for community and country.
A back-of-the-envelope analysis of voting pattern in Nigeria suggest that Nigerians vote along ethnic lines. It gives the appearance that elections are ethnic contest for national resources; consequently, the electorates rarely allow their votes to express their individual struggles, their pain and difficulties.
Yet ethnic victories rarely translates into individual prosperity. But from education to health, unemployment to the environment, Nigeria appears sieged by several sputters of unforgiving challenges. This is why the choice to be made in both national and subnational polls will be more consequential than ever before.
The Continuous Voter Registration exercise conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recorded over twenty million new registered voters. This is good news because the democratic process depends heavily on mass participation.
This can also be interpreted as a sign of increased enthusiasm from those who recently attain the legal voting age and those who have never really cared enough to participate. Regardless of their motivation, a lot more Nigerians are interested in this elections.
It is true that voting allows broad discretion, and as highlighted above, ethnic alignment has been a core motivating factor for electorates, but the coming general elections provides an opportunity to begin the gradual but desperately needed progressive shift towards voting for people that, above all considerations are manifestly devoted to the common good.
It offers an opportunity to value good governance more than financial inducement.
This is your chance to vote for people who represent relentless restlessness for excellence. This is your chance to vote for people whose conclusions and policies won’t be governed by outdated conception of society.
Don’t follow the crowd. Do not vote for the lesser evil. Be bold, be brave, be courageous enough to reclaim your sense of perspective, and let your vote represent your most logical aspiration for Nigeria.
Vote Your Aspiration!