February 14 & the Irresolute Ones

I pledge to Nigeria my country
To be faithful, loyal and honest
To serve Nigeria with all my strength
To defend her unity, and uphold her honour and glory
So, help me God.

February 14 2015 will host an epoch-making event in the history of Nigeria and indeed Africa.
Each preceding day sees expected and incredible campaign strategies from various aspirants’ camps that has us sometimes shocked, sometimes unimpressed, other times laughing but seldom deep in thought. The theme has been an attack-defend-re attack one and based the contest on petty and parochial issues.
But beyond the histrionics and melodramas surrounding the keenly debated elections, the astonishing matter to me is the flippant disposition of many suitable electors in what may be the most interesting elections yet in Africa’s number one economy.
I understand that obtaining the Permanent voter’s card can be an uphill task (I only just got mine through a church member who works with INEC; which makes me ten times luckier than the average citizen) and I also understand the challenge of locale for those in new residences (such as those out of the country during the registration period) especially the internally displaced northerners who have all but been disenfranchised by those brainless monsters.
However, if a citizen is eligible, healthy and within the country (or suitable locale of voting), indecisiveness will be a very poor excuse not to cast the ballot.
I came across a post on face book that read:
“No caring was going 2 happen in this country in a few weeks or which party is going 2 win the Presidential election of this country or governorship of Lagos state.
All I care abt is that I continue surviving irrespective of d winner of d elections. The question 2 everybody is does your vote really count
B realistic does it really count!!!
God bless Africa, God bless Nigeria, and God bless everyone”

Clearly, any form of indecisiveness does not stem from the inability to make a choice based on the immaculate or defective personalities of all the aspirants- there is always a worse devil and always a better angel.
I will admit that I was indecisive a few months ago but a lot of recent happenings have influenced and informed my choice.
Those who do not cast their vote even though they can, suffer from a type of ignorance that calls for pity.
In doing this, you display the highest form of responsibility towards yourself, family and nation; those that must be cajoled or paid to participate are to be pitied indeed because there are 4 key things to note about voting.
1. You demonstrate a lot when you decide to be involved in a plebiscite whose outcome directly or indirectly affects the size of your paycheck.
2. You carry out your basic human right by registering your dissatisfaction or otherwise.
3. You are well-heeled to demonstrate your power and influence. You may deem it inconsequential but your vote adds a certain amount of pressure to the outcome of the lots.
4. Your voice is actually heard (barring all injustice) so rather than be a back seat driver, get in line and vote; fine words butter no parsnips.
If you are happy with the present administration then by all means head to the booth to register your approval, if not make a bee line for the polls to do the needful. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Eligible citizens that have disenfranchised themselves out of their own volition need to rethink the consequences of their action, or inaction.
The only two reasons that could bring about reluctance are insecurity and unfairness.
If insecurity is the excuse, you’ll do well to remember that each election has improved in terms of security over the years and the last elections were, to a very large extent, certified peaceful by International observers. Besides, if the northerners who are daily confronted with Boko Haram can take a stand to vote, those in other parts of the country are without excuse. Personally, my faith in Attahiru Jega and his team to do a satisfactory job has significantly improved.
If you fear the other alternative of unfairness due to a system that may be compromised, make it tougher to rig by casting your votes. If for every 1,000 ‘fake’ votes, 5,000 ‘real’ votes are counted there’s a fair chance that the will of the people will prevail through numbers. This is why no one should underestimate the value of just one vote. Little drops of water, they say, make a mighty ocean.
This is not the AFCON qualifiers where it was up to our preferred team to practice and win while we, incapacitated, anticipated victory from the sidelines (or from the TV screen) but lost and bore the heartbreak for a few days or weeks and are back to our daily lives.

No, this is a serious contest whose outcome will be weightier than a few days of heartbreak.
The consequence is going to be more like four years of disgruntlement (in the best case) and apparent hardships in every sector of the economy, originating from ineffective and unsustainable policies such that even the beggar on the street will feel the heat if we fail to participate.
Making a choice not to vote is identifying with an apathetic mindset that is comfortable with either better or worse when better is very possible and this is a very unfortunate mindset to possess.

And this is why I have a degree of respect for those citizens who do not leave the selection of the most important person in the nation to chance.
Going to the polls isn’t as much as doing your neighbour or the government a favour as it is about doing yourself a favour because your inaction will affect you at the end of the day.

When you spend 8 hours of your daylight pushing slowly through traffic because of potholes that are a particular local government’s responsibility to fix, don’t complain if you did not vote when you could have. It shows you were not bothered in the first place.

Every citizen is going to be required at one time or the other to answer the clarion call; the soldiers are doing that right now in the frontlines of the battle with Boko Haram, the brave doctors did that when Ebola came visiting but you and I are being called on, not to fight terrorists or to risk our lives but just to stand in line for a few hours and stamp a four year-significant piece of paper.
Remember that bad politicians are elected by good people who do not vote.
Make a choice, take a stand, do the needful.


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