As we enter an election campaigning year, it is critical that we do things differently this political season to save our nation from a complete collapse.
With this mind, let’s look at some of the things you and I need to do differently:
Join a Political Party: This is the democratic instrument for selecting candidates for the executive and legislative elections and the government appointees who will help the elected executive execute their programmes. Besides the major parties, the emerging and newly registered ones are actively mobilizing citizens into membership.
The biggest growth our democracy will witness will be the involvement of a significant number of citizens joining political parties and influencing manifestoes and party primaries.
Support a Candidate/Movement: For those yet to overcome the perception many Nigerians have about political parties, we can support credible Nigerians putting themselves forward for office without being members of a political party.
Many credible candidates desperately need a strong support base. This base will help mobilise funds for the campaign, develop manifesto, handle logistics, offer expertise, actively sell the candidates to the grassroots, etc. This activity will be much needed as credible Nigerians seek office using the platforms of lesser known political parties.
Undertake Positive Voting:Most voters practice negative voting. For example, many voted for President Buhari in 2015 because their focus was on getting former President Jonathan out of office. The focus wasn’t placed on what the person we voted in will deliver but removing the one we were dissatisfied with.
Also, some say, it was either PDP or APC. This is another form of negative voting. This time around, we must carefully study the personality, character and manifesto of a candidate.
Whosoever seems to offer the best option should be the focus of our voting irrespective of the size of the party.
Consider candidates outside PDP and APC: To further stress the point above,we have to spread our searchlight to candidates of lesser known political parties. If they don’t win, a good voting number will encourage them to try again. It will also reduce the winning margins of the major parties and shake their confidence.
Imagine with me a scenario where a smaller party has some millions of votes in the presidential elections. That could lead to a rerun between the major parties and will surely give credibility to the smaller party as a worthy bride for coalition. More importantly, it will make the party attractive to citizens who will join as members.
We have to rebuild our politics to the era where smaller political parties had good followership and provided stiff opposition to the major parties.
Give greater emphasis to Legislature: It clear to many now that a credible legislature at the federal and state level is critical for a well-functioning executive. We talk a lot about restructuring but should remember that constitutional amendment is the preserve of the National and State Houses of Assembly.
This time, we must give good attention to the legislative candidates and work hard to get our preferred candidates voted in.
Attend Town Hall Meetings: For those candidates we are considering, it is key that we make out time to attend their town hall meetings. Some meetings are held for professionals, religious or grassroots groups. This is a key exercise for our evaluation of the candidate’s suitability.
I believe this year, candidates will see the seriousness of Nigerians during such meetings when we turn out in good numbers and properly engage them.
Effectively communicate your well researched preferences to the grassroots: It is not enough to carefully decide upon our preferences for the elections. We have to mobilise support for those candidates from other Nigerians particularly those in the grassroots.
Interestingly, these are the ones who have large turnouts at elections and the ones easily influenced by politicians with little incentives. We have a task to properly educate these and other Nigerians (using our research findings) and ensure they vote wisely.
Get your PVCs: Far too many Nigerians qualified to vote but didn’t do so in 2015. As if that wasn’t bad enough, many collected their PVCs but didn’t come out to vote. Get your PVC and mobilize others to do same.
On election days, mobilize people to go out and vote. This time, we must focus our voting on all elections. No office should be considered of lesser value.
Believeyour vote counts:One of the key reasons for voters’ apathy is the mind-set that our votes don’t count. This is not true. While rigging will never be completely eliminated (not even achieved in Western countries with longstanding democracies), the electoral process is getting better. Technology (PVC, smartphones, etc.) is helping to make the process more credible and transparent.
We must believe that our votes will count and even when we vote for smaller parties, our vote still counts in strengthening our democracy.
Each of us must have our well researched candidate for the Presidential, Governorship, Senate, House of Reps and House of Assembly elections. Each of us must then go and mobilise for these candidates.
Much work is needed but the fruits will be ours and our children’s to enjoy.
Let’s make 2019 our best election year.