The 2023 general election is just a few days away and the only way we the Nigerian people can change the status quo and guarantee a better future is by a revolutionary vote. We must be circumspect about the candidate to vote for. Are we voting for an unqualified candidate because he or she is a member of our political party? Are we voting for a mediocre candidate because he or she comes from the same tribe as us?
There is a popular axiom that says, “drastic situations require drastic measures”. Those words aptly describe what Nigeria needs at this moment in history. The current levels of hardship and hopelessness facing the ordinary Nigerian has reached unprecedented heights. It is now a case of survival of the ‘fittest and elimination of the unfit’. Many Nigerians are clutching on to straws in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. The mental faculty of many have become environmentally manipulated to `grab what you can` and pursue daily survival either by hook or crook. The apathy of the Nigerian people to their freedom and emancipation from the jaws of a few political elite has disappeared. The level of political awareness and redefinition of our collective aspiration is at an all-time high since independence in 1960. The 2023 General Election is a whisker away and the `bags of trickery` are yet again being delivered from the loaded warehouses of our political vultures. These satanic vultures are a few men and women who are stealing from our collective patrimony.
In the last few years, this writer like many others have been sermonising on some of the core issues bedevilling our political, social and economic development. Alarm bells have been ringing and credible solutions proffered in some instances, but the impact of such postulations remains to be seen or palpated. Certainly, we must keep pushing the narrative of our shared humanity and nationhood. Since the concepts of shared humanity and nationhood are a state of mind, it means Nigeria will not change until a greater majority of Nigerians, make a paradigm shift to decide once and for all that we are ready to make it happen. Angels are not going to come down from heaven to do it for us. It is ours to do. We the Nigerian people are the ones to make it happen.
The word, revolution is not one to be used irrationally. For those in Power (the rulers/ruiners in Government), it is a taboo for citizens to use the word revolution. In the context of this piece, the word revolution is used dispassionately within the ambit of a Mindset reset. Talking of early beliefs about revolution, the Encyclopaedia Britannica states inter alia, “Though the idea of revolution was originally related to the Aristotelian notion of cyclical alterations in the forms of government, it now implies a fundamental departure from any previous historical pattern. A revolution constitutes a challenge to the established political order and the eventual establishment of a new order radically different from the preceding one”. Such revolutions change not only the system of government but also the economic system, the social structure, and the cultural values of those societies unquote. Furthermore, revolutions of the type described by Aristotle, begins in the minds and hearts of the people. It is true that a lot of people will think about violence and the use of force at the mention of revolution, but that is not the advocacy of this writeup. This revolution is about us – the Nigerian people changing our lives and those of our children yet unborn with the magic formula of our mindset reset ab initio. This revolution will be brought about using the instrumentality of the ballot box via our PVCs come 25th February 2023. Some of the fundamental blocks we need to rebuild a new Nigeria. Let`s go!
The first mindset reset Nigerians must make is to have the `supreme belief` that our votes count. Surely our votes do count! While it is true that in the past, politicians were quick to manipulate election figures, that scenario is highly unlikely now due to the use of new voting technology by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Dear Nigerians, it is time to discard that myopic notion of `our votes don`t matter or it doesn`t count`. It is a lie peddled by unscrupulous politicians to serve their own selfish interest. Please, let us not be deceived further. If your votes don`t matter, how come politicians go the extra mile to buy votes and induce voters with cash and other sundry gifts. The criminal politicians know what they are doing. That is the reason they buy votes. We the people should be ahead of these demonic lots (vote buying politicians).
The second mindset reset is our level of political participation. Only in Nigeria you hear people say, ‘politics is a dirty game’, ‘politics is not for me’. ‘If you don’t join cults, nothing for you in politics` and the list goes on. Truth be said, like in any sphere of human endeavour, politics is not for the faint hearted. It is tough, rough, and full of stumble with its ups and downs. Yes, politics can be dirty and stormy but that is not enough for credible, kind-hearted, good citizens to run away from it. If `good citizens` run away from participating in politics, who then is going to change our society? Is it the criminal minded ones? A wise man once said, “bad people are elected to government by good people who refuse to take part and vote in elections”.
Nigeria is a country of over 200 million people but since the return to democratic rule in 1999, the database for number of votes used to elect Nigerian Presidents is worrying. In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo got 18 million votes. In 2003, that number rose slightly to 24 million votes for him to be re-elected. President Umaru Musa Yar Adua garnered 24 million votes to win in 2007 and Dr Goodluck Jonathan got 22 million votes to clinch the seat in 2011. The incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari had 15.4 million votes to win in 2015 and scored 15.1 million votes to retain it in 2019. The figures highlighted above shows that at its highest peak only 24% of Nigeria chose the leader of the country. Hopefully, the 2023 election will be different. We must reset our mindset.
The Edo, Anambra, Ekiti and Osun States Governorship elections of 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively have shown that a popular candidate backed by the people can win fair and square. The new voting technologies such as the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BIVAS and electronic transmission of results will help reduce arbitrary human contacts and tampering of election figures/results. Also, the advent of smartphones means that nefarious activities such as multiple voting and the blatant thumb printing of ballot papers and ballot box snatching can be recorded by citizens. Perpetrators of such barbaric acts now know they stand the risk of being exposed at the click of a mobile phone on social media. This is a deterrent.
The third mindset reset needed in Nigeria is for the middle and professional class to rise up and take their place in the scheme of things. Abandoning the ship of state and allowing charlatans and moneybags to run the show has huge painful ramifications of unimaginable proportions. Imagine a Nigeria where the organised labour/trade unions, civil society organisations, academia, students’ union, artisans, market women and men, youths, professional bodies/associations throw their hats in the political ring. Such a mass coalition will be an immovable force and unbeatable. Nothing will be able to stand in their way and such unity of purpose will no doubt change the face of our nation forever. Any candidate supported by this mass of citizens is guaranteed a landslide victory at the polls. No ifs, no buts.
The 2023 general election is just a few days away and the only way we the Nigerian people can change the status quo and guarantee a better future is by a revolutionary vote. We must be circumspect about the candidate to vote for. Are we voting for an unqualified candidate because he or she is a member of our political party? Are we voting for a mediocre candidate because he or she comes from the same tribe as us? Are we voting for a candidate because he or she is from the same religion as us? Are we voting for a corrupt candidate because he or she is offering us money or gift items to buy our vote? Is it right for us to keep playing ‘follow-follow’ with a political party because they have the structure of criminality? Is it right for us as Christians, Muslims, or African traditional religion practitioners to keep saying, `we are praying`? The Christian Holy Book, the Bible says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead…” (James Chapter 2 v 26).
Fellow Nigerians, if we vote in the wrong candidates again in this 2023 elections, we will have no loci standi to start complaining, ranting, or venting in 2024, 2025 and until 2027 or 2031. Be it for the office of The President, State Governor, Federal or State legislature and Local Governments, we have to be guided and circumspect in whom we cast our votes for. We must ensure we vote for character, competence, capacity as well as physical and mental fitness. We cannot keep making the same mistakes over and over again and expect a different outcome. We cannot eat our seeds and expect to harvest crops in due season. Let`s use our tongue to count our teeth in this 2023 elections. It is not the turn of anybody but the turn of the Nigerian people. This is our time for a revolutionary vote from a mindset reset. The ball is now in our court. Indeed, A New Nigeria Is Possible.
Dr Agbons is Lead of the Institute of Good Governance & Leadership @www.twin2.org.