When it comes to deciding during elections, does the online crew or the social media gang really count? If we are to have an election today, can our opinion really swing the votes? I mean how much premium does the politician place on the votes of socially urban young Nigerians? Who matters more – the NURTW chairman, Iyaloja, Chairman Association of “anything informal”” and me?
I mean these are the ones who for a bar of soap, late night meal, employment in LASTMA, bus stop chairman, free bus rides for their children, yard of Ankara decide who they vote for. They are numbed to issues of accountability and with the politician in sight, all you hear is loud obeisance like “Baba Tuale”.
The politician is also in this cult mode as he makes his/her responsibility a privilege for the citizen. No one see that lens of how a politician was hired by the people to manage our economy and polity. In the same manner, a master can sack his house- help in cases of incompetence, theft or breach of agreement, we have the same power to ensure that elected officers should be booted out.
As a group of enlightened Nigerians, can we really enforce change when votes of a large group are so vulnerable to petty issues? Is it that we are so outnumbered and doing not enough that we can’t really tell the facts for these people? I mean the vote placed in the hand of someone will decide who controls allocations, raises debt, writes laws on our behalf, represents us in international spaces, decide if we need nuclear codes or not, decide fuel prices and the manpower for public institutions. How come we leave such trivial matters to the large army of folks that trade it for a meal or choose which dividing lines to believe?
This how we are kept in the tangle of chicken and egg problem. This is how we wonder what really is the problem – the leader or the led. We must understand that this is a market with demand and supply sides. The politician is at the supply end and will only respond to forces of demand. If the politician knows that folks at the other end have their votes at a price and he/she can carry on without the enlightened few, the incentive is there to follow what works.
If the politician knows issues of ethnicity resonate with the voters, he plays the tribal card beclouding the majority as regarding his/her incompetence or disregard for transparency. If it is about a Christian Governor or Muslim President, the politician plays the religion card by posturing to be a good Christian visiting churches and asking for the prayers.
We are the ones at fault. We wax abstract approach on changing Nigeria like we can finance logistics for a local councillorship election. We don’t actively join political parties thereby making meaningful impact. We don’t stay on the other side of the market to keep amplifying our voices.
In 2015, we need to explain what a vote means to everyone because the politician is just following the trend – poverty, ethnicity, inferiority complex etc. The incentive of the politician is to grab power and if he/she finds a gaping hole to be exploited, he/she thrives on it.
So its left for us to creatively think how will people of the streets understand that voting is a decision that vests their authority on an elected officials and they are also making such decision on behalf of under-18 population who can’t vote. It is left to us to disabuse those that label us Christians, Muslims, Northerners or Southerners.
How do we meet them at the half way? Get Saheed Osupa and Alabi Pasuma to do a track laced with a viral slang on voters education? How do you get them to understand the roles of vigilance and untiring demand of accountability? This is our role. We are not doing enough and nothing will rapidly change as keep typing away.