"The power of your vote as a catalyst for Nigeria"August 13th, 2014
Every vote counts in a democracy writes Pax Nvani, 25, a Correspondent from Eket in Nigeria, as he makes the case that voting is an obligation that has a powerful impact not only on the government but also on the country’s future.
Nigeria gained independence in October, 1963, yet ever since that day has remained an uneasy federation of distinct regions.
It has witnessed wars, coups and killings – many arising from military dictatorship. Why is it so?
Under military rule, the views and opinions of the society are not heard. Decisions are made by the rulers without the concern of the public society. Of course, the voice of a nation lies in its patriotic citizens.
In modern Nigeria today, the majority rules and the minority is heard. By this, I mean it is a democratic nation having its leaders elected by the voice of the nation through election. Election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses individuals to hold public office, and has been used in representative democracies since the 17th century.
Every citizen of Nigeria has the right to vote as amended in the 1999 constitution. It is not only a right but an obligation and duty for every citizen.
Who do you want to rule you? What do you want in your society? How can the ruled be heard by the rulers? Your vote has the power to answer that.
Although democracy – which has been described as the best form of government – is the thing of the day, people tend to misunderstand it. Some people take it as an opportunity to abuse the law. Some take it to suppress others financially and officially. Only a few take it as a catalyst for a stable and united Nigeria.
Nigeria today faces a lot of challenges related to government. But can we blame the hawk and leave the hen? In order to create a stable and united Nigeria, two groups of people have to be considered: the rulers and the ruled.
The prerequisite for addressing problems is having a government that works and is accountable. One of the problems associated with attaining accountability is ballot rigging. Due to selfish lusts, ballots are rigged to favour a contestant for a particular office. The nation is denied the opportunity to speak its voice.
Another problem is political apathy, where citizens show lack of concern when it comes to politics. One often-cited reason is the thought that their opinions can’t be heard. They see the rulers as people who are far from the society, forgetting that the government has made provision for participation at the federal, state and grass root levels. Another reason is that people sometimes see the electoral body and the judiciary as corrupt. Citizen apathy about politics could mean popular participation will become a thing of the past.
In addressing these problems, three principles have to be adhered to: the supremacy of the law, the rule of law and fundamental human rights. Personally, if these principles are being adhered to, then the power of my vote would act as a catalyst for a stable and united Nigeria.
People should only be punished when they have been found guilty and proven so. This is the supremacy of the law. Equality before the law should also be practised by those in power.
Also, human rights have context. For example, the right to movement doesn’t mean you should trespass into someone’s property and the right to association doesn’t mean you should set up violent associations.
Franchise is what every citizen possesses. We should all vote honestly. In a democratic nation, the majorities have their way and the minorities has their say. One day justice would be done to your say. This is the power of your vote and the only catalyst for a stable and united Nigeria. Why a catalyst? It’s because your vote helps to speed up the growth, development and administration of the country. Like enzymes in nature speed up reactions in the body, your vote can be a catalyst for political development.
I believe in one Nigeria, one voice and one vote. Never underestimate your vote. In curbing all the menaces in the country, the rulers should be accountable to the ruled. This is the first step to achieving a stable and united Nigeria.
About me: I am a finance and tax associate, a self-starter with proven finance background. Combined with a degree in financial management and a certificate in descriptive statistics, I am interested in financial analysis, decision making and challenges on global poverty.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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