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Vote for Nigeria

Elections in Nigeria may not be perfect, writes Belema Ekine,  28, a correspondent from Tombia, Rivers State in Nigeria who argues that Nigerians should still exercise their right to vote in this month’s elections as this is one way citizens can influence the course of events in their country.

Former American President, John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” In Nigeria, there’s a lot we can do for our country which is plagued by various issues – poor education, unemployment, poverty, and  lack of security, among others. These are all issues which need to be addressed with urgency as they impact all sectors and corners of our nation.

Overcoming a lot of these issues and improving  the quality of our lives require progressive ideas backed by strong public policies and adequate public services.After several years of military rule, since 1999 the Nigerian people have been responsible for electing a government to lead the country and provide the public services and policies needed.So why is Nigeria where it is today if we have the means to ensure that our needs and concern are taken care of via these elections?

Of course, it is easy to blame the governments and officials, but our part as citizens cannot be ignored because since becoming a democratic state we have been given the power to decide on the type of country we want.We have been given the power to vote, but unfortunately we, as citizens have not been making judicious use of it. The state of our country is therefore a consequence of our choices.

As a Nigerian who has lived in my country all my life, I am aware of the buying and selling of votes for a meagre cash reward  of about 5,000 nairas ($13 USD) or less. Votes are also sold for food items. Apart from the selling of votes our elections are  beset by violence and the intimidation of voters at the voting booths in some areas.

Given these realities, I can understand why over the years some citizens, have been choosing not to concern themselves with Nigerian elections. Many are willing to talk about the process, the aspirants, and even predict which party or candidate will win, but will not participate in the registration or voting process. Instead they say:  “It does not matter whether or not I vote, the system is always rigged, my vote does not count.” Yes, it does.

It does matter whether or not we vote. Our votes do count because they are our power – our ability and authority to influence the course of events in our country. It is for that reason that we should use it consciously and sensibly.

According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which oversees the conduct of elections in Nigeria, just over 84 million Nigerians have been registered to vote and I am elated to be one of them!

Despite the fact that this number is quite high, it has to be measured against the voting age population, which is  almost 91,670,000,  according to the   Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). There are several reasons why some citizens who are of voting age are not registered to vote, but with the elections fast approaching our main focus must be to ensure that the magnificent 84 million registered Nigerians have their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) which they need to vote, and that they are all able to exercise our franchise.

Obtaining and using our PVCs wisely is a major step in the right direction. Sometime last year, I applied for a transfer of my voter’s card from the state where I had registered years ago to the state where I currently reside, to enable me to participate in the upcoming election. After a long wait, my PVC is ready for pick up. It gives me great joy to know that I can and I will use my power on February 16, 2019

I appeal to all Nigerians who need to get their PVCs , to do so at the various collection areas so that we can all vote. We have the opportunity as enfranchised citizens with valid PVCs to counter the culture of complaining about the issues plaguing us, and  instead to use our voting power to influence the transformation we want to see.This is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our country with the power we have been given.It is up to us  to decide on the fate  of the country for the next four years, by electing the right public official(s).

Photo Credit:  Nigeria’s 2015 elections via YourCommonwealth

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About me :

Belema Sandra Ekine lives in Abuja, where she works As An Administrative Officer with the Nigerian Institute Of Advanced Legal Studies. She Also volunteers with Project Kadara,  A leadership and mentoring project for secondary school girls. Belema Sandra enjoys writing and photography, which she hopes to use to share important messages about national and global issues, while promoting peace,  gender equality and sustainable development.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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This article is about the upcoming general elections in Nigeria, the importance of and the power in getting the PERMANENT VOTERS CARD (PVC) which is the only valid form of identifying as a registered and qualified voter in Nigeria and the only way eligible Nigerians can exercise our franchise.

Furthermore, it talks about the current state of the nation and the Nigerian people, some issues which need to be handled diligently and urgently, the type of change needed- during elections- to allow for a better improved living and also how it is only we, the Nigerian people who can set in motion the positive development we are in dire need of through the power of our PVC.

 

KEY AREAS:

Nigeria, the Nigerian People, Participatory Democracy, General Elections, The Voters Card, February 16, 2019, Fundamental Human Right, Sustainable Development

 

SUGGESTION FOR HEADLINE

  • THE POWER OF OUR PVC (Permanent Voters Card)
  • VOTING FOR OUR COUNTRY

 

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