Youth Voices On the Upcoming Nigerian Elections

Nigerian Elections

A lot of people across the world are looking at what will happen with the 2015 Nigerian elections. On the 28th of March, about three weeks from now, the biggest elections in Nigeria’s near fifty-five year old history will take place. Well I suppose any coming elections are a country’s biggest, but for us, this is epochal. Walk up to a random person on the road and strike a conversation; they’ll tell you the election is between just two people (actually there are fourteen individuals vying for the seat at Aso Rock).

The frontrunners are the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan and an ex Military Head of State and candidate from the country’s largest opposition group, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. In the race are other qualified individuals like Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya & Dr. Chekwas Okorie – but the truth of the matter is that with the current political landscape in the country, and unfortunately so, only one of the two I mentioned as frontrunner earlier is likely to win.

I say “unfortunately” because for some reason, the average Nigerian is incapable of voting or choosing a preferred candidate on purely lines of ability. You will observe that most voters are primarily influenced by either the religion or tribe of the candidate and that’s when they aren’t even bothering themselves with something even more trivial. There’s not much anyone can do about this, not now – these problems are ingrained in the fabric of our society.

As a young man genuinely concerned with the state of the nation and where it’s headed, I’ve found the campaigns by the two top parties PDP (People’s Democratic Party) & APC (All Progressives Congress) to be distasteful. The campaigns are fraught with accusations and counter accusations about the most petty things. Only a small fraction of the time are real issues faced, and even then no head way is made. Parties from time to time will make promises to do something whereas the numbers they’ve thrown out don’t add up. We have a pile of unresolved issues ranging from security in the North-East and unsteady power supply to a failing economy and rising unemployment but for these parties, this is secondary. All they care about is winning the elections first.

Nigeria is at a crossroads; at a time when oil prices are dropping and sustaining the economy is overly reliant on crude oil sales, we must select a government which will not only promise on billboards and TV ads but actually deliver in diversifying our economy and improving things as a whole.

Will I vote you ask? DEFINITELY. Why? Well for one, it’s my right. Secondly this is my home and I can’t keep complaining about the state of things if I’m not willing to do anything about them.

Voting I believe is the first step in doing just that. Also, I’m convinced that adding my vote to the tally of a candidate I’m almost certain is better equipped to handle the affairs of our country is a small but powerful step in securing the immediate future of Nigeria. Voter apathy is an epidemic, eating us on the insides as shown in the statistics presented by the national electoral body pertaining to collection of permanent voter’s cards (you need them to vote). One week to the former date for voting, Feb 14, the percentage of collected PVCs were in no way encouraging. I refuse to be one of those who are willing to leave their future to chance.

In conversation with my peers, most agree that sentiment arising from religious inclinations and the likes have to end. Most educated people my age see beyond the petty divides. For the most part, they want office holders that will be held accountable for their actions. A lot of the old thinking is responsible for where we find ourselves today, never mind that years of unaccountable military rule played it’s part. Luckily, with more education, things such as technology bridging the divide and more association with people from other parts of the country, our generation is better positioned than the last to face the real problems with sensibility. Unfortunately forward thinking people of this nature are in the minority. Time will change that. For now, we wait for the 28th of March so we can vote.