Reasons Why Nigerians must partake in the 2023 Election
Why Nigerians must partake in the 2023 Election
For eons, the long-suffering Nigerians have been desirous of and indeed deserving quality political leadership that is prepared for the onerous tasks of governance. More propelled by patriotic actions than by wishful words, these should be people-oriented, pragmatic, peace-loving, cost-effective and nationalistic. Indeed, we have waited for decades for leaders through election who would sacrifice their whims and caprices for the good of the nation.
But most, unfortunately, the citizens have had to battle with and endure persistent poor leadership service from the local government through the state to the federal level, that turns up every election year like a recurrent ugly decimal. Sad to note too, that this has been unjustifiably supported by the aberrant military-imposed 1999 constitution (as amended). And it has foisted on them an over-bloated federal centre, giving one-man enormous dictatorial powers of might-is-right!
What has defined the power-poaching antics of their crop of politicians are the Machiavellian principles of the end justifying the means as patently obvious in their body polity. As rightly reflected in the Electoral Reform Committee Report, 2008, Vol. 1: 19: “Nigerian politicians have over the years become more desperate and daring in taking and retaining power; more reckless and greedier in their use and abuse of power; and more intolerant of opposition, criticism and efforts at replacing them.”
“Real leaders are happy to zig while others zag. They understand that in an era of hyper-competition and non-stop disruption, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to stand for something special.”
Not a few of their predatory political actors are self-serving, greed-driven, deceitful, ethnocentric, brazen and overtly corrupt. Such is the alarming level of crass corruption in high places that current President Muhammadu Buhari openly lamented the monstrous incubus, quite at variance with the change mantra the APC-led government promised Nigerians back in 2015. Good enough, ‘change’ can be for the worse, as they have witnessed over the past six years.
Or, how else do we explain the fact that based on the leadership indices of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Human Development Index (HDI), unemployment rate and the Gini-Coefficient (GC)- as a measure of the gap between the rotten rich and the abysmally poor, Nigerians are far worse off now than they were in 2014
For instance, food prices have skyrocketed. The inflation rate in 2014 was 8.5percent according to statista.com but it is 13.3percent in 2022 according to Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer of Financial Derivatives Company. The unemployment rate in 2014 stood at 4.56percent according to macrotrends.net but it is currently at 32percent.
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In a similar vein, the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar in 2014 was N157 but has since escalated to N481 or as high as N557 in the black market! With regards to the ever-increasing debt burden, as of July 2015 the Federal Government domestic debt, according to the Debt Management Office (DMO) stood at $43.185 billion as of March 2015. But as of September 2021, it has risen to a total of $92. 626bn. Though the World Bank has predicted that Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow by 2.5percent in 2022, Nigerians are not smiling, made worse by the insecurity monster rampaging across several states up north.
They need great team leaders through election who will mobilize, motivate and inspire disillusioned Nigerians to bring out the best that is in them. They cannot afford to, nor pretend to be chest-beating philosopher-kings, who know it all; who do not make mistakes and must never be criticised. Instead, they should humble themselves and be ready to learn, as John F. Kennedy noted: “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
With two recessions in the last six years, the economy has been in a very bad shape, with the government helpless at any time it happens.
In the last six years, foreign exchange has been more volatile, with Naira losing stability of N160 to the American dollar speedily to about N560 today. In the last six years, which captures the present administration, inflation has risen unimaginably, food security is fable, insecurity has taken deadlier dimensions, corruption, which the government swore to fight, is fighting back and winning more converts, poverty is preeminent as the country infamously ranks as the world capital of poverty today.
For those who encourage the youths to vote in the 2023 elections, there are many reasons not to step out as Nigerian unemployment ranks among the highest in the world at 33.3 percent.
At 33.3 percent unemployment rate, it means 23.2 million of the about 70 million people who should be working in Nigeria are out of work and these are mainly youths who the government said it is after their future, amid promises of job creation, which are never fulfilled.
Of course, the country is witnessing a very high inflation rate, the worst in six years. Though the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) claimed that Nigeria’s annual inflation rate fell for the seventh straight month to 15.99 percent in October of 2021, from 16.63 percent in September, food prices are still rising daily at a very high percentage in the last six years.
Recently, the NBS reported that the annual food inflation rate rose for the 24th consecutive month to 20.75 percent in October from 20.71 per cent in September this year, owing to further increases in the prices of basic food items.
There is no need to ask for what the plights of the masses are now. They are getting poorer daily, one square meal difficult, quality education and healthcare far out of their reach.
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Voting Is the only way out
Donatus Okonkwo, founder, Tetrazzini Group of Companies, recently admonished Nigerians that “Getting involved is the only solution. You don’t have to like politics, you have to get involved.”
In its recent newsletter, EnoughisEnough (EiE), a non-governmental organisation in Nigeria, advised: “Do Not Just Register, Vote!”
It further said: “Completing the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process is a demonstration of your intention to participate in the elections! However, when intent is not converted to action on Election Day, the results can be far reaching.”
But no matter how genuine the reasons for not taking part in electoral processes and elections in the country, Nigerians have been urged to change the habit in 2023 in order to have a change of narrative.
“Often times, we hear people say ‘let them go do their voting; I will not get involved’. But these are the same people that would turn around to complain about a government they did not take part in putting into power. Bad governance can be checked at the polling unit. It is not enough to register and collect a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) as many Nigerians do today, but they really do not vote on Election Day. 2023 is approaching and presents another opportunity for Nigerians to vote in those they believe have the capacity to turn things around positively.”