The next election is fast approaching as horse trading has started between registered political parties and individuals seriously interested in participating in one election or the other. Thus, it is an election year in which many winners and losers will emerge. Eligible voters must realise that the type of government they have in vogue is the totality of their decisions.
Australia is a country with the highest voting turnarounds in the world. This is because the country insists that voting is a civil duty of citizens and not just a privilege. Any voter who failed to vote during an election and without acceptable reasons pays a fine. I wish such an enviable principle is established in our constitution for every citizen to accept voting as a civil duty and not just a privilege. Thus, if you did not exercise your voting right, then you should be told to ‘Shut-up’ when you dare criticise the running of government or join the group of people who say ‘politics is dirty’ a statement credited to Woodrow Wilson, Ph.D, LL.D, 28th president of United States of America (1913 – 1921). We must remember that the candidates who win elections have the power to change your life by the laws that they pass during their regimes.
In the future elections, we must vote for people that are considered as honest, with moral visions, concerned with clues of solving our social problems and will not ‘eat the national cake alone’. It is always advisable to find more about political candidates from friends, neighbours, internets, newspapers, and so on, before voting for them. It is a known fact that politicians are completely different human beings when it comes to requesting for votes from people. Some of their campaign slogans and promises are full of deceits, lies, dirty tricks, slanders and insults, including character assassinations; with the intention of mocking their rivals, that they consider as political ‘puppets’ just to win votes.
They play fast political games and come out loose with actual truths while using different tactics to portray themselves and party in the best possible light, portraying their opponents as fools who will lead the country to political ruin if elected. They have enough and unaccountable looted funds to advertise themselves in local and foreign newspapers, television programmers, magazines and as well organized social gatherings for distribution of money with dubiously acquired resources while their political rivals are masqueraded as enemies of progress. By so doing, the morality of politicians is grossly debased while intense campaign of calumny blinds people for the purpose of votes catching.
At the end of votes counting, electorates will see different alignments cropping up. The tension for seeking votes has gone and politicians calling themselves different names are now sitting at both sides of the political table to dine together while the poor voters are neglected like a dirty pond and without further recourse for decision making. The next brazen item on the political agenda is corrupt political bargains and betrayals at the electorates’ expense. Unfortunately, we could hardly find credible alternative in a highly traumatised political setting like ours. When we examine the past records of politicians knocking at electorates’ doors for votes, they are bunched under recalcitrant group of those making unending and unfulfilled promises with enticing envelopes to buy voters’ conscience. With this political development in Nigeria, we must be sorry for ourselves and the nation at large.
We are rightly informed that political elections are the sure foundation of democratic society to provide legitimacy to the government. Also, they are meant to give reasonable opportunity to the entire citizens to participate in the democratic process. From the perspective of electioneering process and candidates’ eligibility (qualifications, nominations, dispute resolutions, etc.), involvement of electorates cannot be pushed aside in a jiffy.
Therefore, it is the right time that Nigerian electorates stop regarding elections as mere window dressing national affairs that do not deserve their attention or participation. When electorates ignore sensible reasons to cast their votes, criminally-minded politicians can make dubious arrangements to ‘stuff up’ election boxes with ‘ghost votes’ or jettison the actual results to announce dubiously motivated and overwhelming victory. Nobody has the will to fight after the ruling government is swept from power following a free and fair election. This is not only peculiar to Nigeria but also advanced countries. In Japan (where Democratic Party that held power from 1955 to 2009), the government was defeated by the opposition and that situation resulted to serious in-fighting. Similarly, there was an election dispute in United States of American when the Republican party (1861 – 1933) was replaced by the Democratic Party. This teaches us that voting during elections is the right of citizens to change their leaders.
Today, there are many angry Americans are or in the ‘near state of despair’ with themselves on the last presidential election in which president Donald Thump won. Even though Sir Winston Churchill once commented that “democracy is the worst form of government”, we were told that other forms of government that were tried before have not been better. It has shown that democracy “is not just essential but also noble, and in fact, worthy of our devotion.” The African American federal appellate judge once noted that democracy is “becoming, rather unbecoming than being itself. It can easily be lost and never was it fully won. Hence, the essence of democracy itself is the eternal struggle.”
Our voting pattern is not different from what obtains in other democratic countries. People sometimes vote for their preferred parties while others vote for personalities. It is a known fact that voting consumes time and money that do not come easily to many people. Hard earned money is never easy to ‘waste’ on elections. the consequence is that many unpopular candidates are presented for elections because they can raise required funds for sponsorship.
To be continued tomorrow.
Okunrinboye wrote from Washington D C.
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