14 Jan 2015

Why You Must Vote - by Tayo Elegbede

A few days from now, Nigerians above 18 will have the opportunity to exercise their franchise as citizens and cast their votes for the person(s) they think will best represent and guide them through the next four years and perhaps beyond.

This process – election is one of the fundamental tenets of representative democracy – is presupposed to transfer power from the citizenry to an elected few who in turn express the popular mandate of the citizenry for desired socio-economic, political and nationalistic benefits.

But, does it worth it, voting in Nigeria? Do votes really count? Do voters actually matter?

Beyond its sheer political importance, voting matters to the governance structure of any society as well as the well-being of its citizenry. If well managed, it is the most peaceful transition tool for power in any society. It lays the foundations for citizens’ involvement in the political style of the nation and their basic engagement of relevant projects, policies and programmes. Voting covers both the short and long term values for societal development. Here are seven reasons to (value your) vote in the coming general elections.
  • Voting is the sure path to preserving and promoting a fledgling democracy like ours. 
  • It creates the most open opportunity for eligible citizens to get involved in the democratic process of the Nigerian state.
  • It matters both to the health of the Nigerian political system and to the people who participate in it. 
  • Voting cum election reflects the ups and downs of any society and government.
  • Voting is our society’s prime equaliser. No matter our stage in life, income power, religious persuasions, ethnic heritage or social status, every citizen over 18 years has the same power of one vote.
  • Campaigns, pollsters do not determine who wins elections; voters do. Predicting the outcome of elections, especially close ones, is at best an inexact science. Pollsters, social and media analysts, political pundits have their roles, but like each of us, they only have one vote.
  • Votes count. While how we vote is confidential, the fact that we have voted, or failed to vote, is public record. Elected officials know which individuals and demographic groups voted, and we who do vote are more likely to be influential in policy debates. Non-voters are voiceless and by not participating can become victims of their own neglect.
Regret is preventable. February is one month too late. Have a “no excuses” attitude by committing to vote, ask others to join us in voting and promoting a positive approach to making a difference among family, friends and colleagues.

Join in the making of history. Every indicator points to the prospect that these elections will have impact for years, every vote is even more important. Being a participant in affecting history gives each of us a sense of pride in participation and the power to touch the future.

After all the words are said, charges levelled and millions of naira spent, it’s we, the voters, who hold the power to decide who will lead our nation, our states and communities into the future.

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