The Importance Of Voting And Not Fighting In 2023 General Elections BY LAWRENCE PETER

In Breaking News, Opinion, Politics

Voting is the core of election in the electoral cycle without which democracy goes into a coma, and the citizens bear the brunt of systemic failure. According to John Lewis, “The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.”

Voting rightly promotes participatory democracy where citizens choose or elect their representatives into either Federal, State, and Local Government offices. Sadly, our electoral cycle in his fourth republic is characterized by various forms of malpractices, the chief of these malpractices are pre, during, and post-election violence.

It’s now easier for misguided citizens to pull the triggers instead of casting their votes, and to release bullets while snatching ballot boxes at polling units. Fighting or applying force at the polling unit has negatively affected voter turnout in the recent past. 

Cyberbullying, hate speeches, vote buying, ballot box snatching, kidnapping of candidates or influential state and non-state actors, and ritual killings among others have been the order of the day before, during, and after the election. Hence people have been psychologically manipulated to stay at home or risk being brutally attacked by some elements of electoral violence in some hot spots year in and year out.

The new normal is the positioning of cashiers (by desperate politicians who would stop at nothing just to cling unto power) who flout the electoral regulations of not canvassing for votes while the election is ongoing at all polling units across the State, to not only canvass for votes but also buys the votes of ravishingly famished voters who had managed to defeat hunger so they can exercise their civic rights and responsibilities.

How did we get here? Can the narratives be changed? How do we change the status quo from violence-prone to violence-free elections come 2023?

First off, voting doesn’t only promote participatory democracy, but also allows citizens to exercise their civic rights and responsibilities to ensure inclusion and good governance.

Outright refusal to vote is not just another way of promoting bad governance, but a clear path for unbearable hardship to the vulnerable and marginalized. George Jean Nathan, an American drama critic and magazine editor once said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

It, therefore, follows that no excuse is tenable enough for your refusal to exercise your civic rights and responsibilities if we must change the narratives of bad officials in the corridors of power. Go vote for the candidates of your choice, and do not be misled by anyone to engage in any form of electoral violence for posterity’s sake.

Voting and fighting are parallel lines that never meet in every civilized society. It is disheartening that in the Nigerian electoral cycle before, during, and after elections, they’ve become Siamese twins that go hand in hand.

We do not need the gifted hands of Ben Carson, the renowned brain surgeon to separate this ungodly union, but a reorientation of the youth towards having a mindset devoid of violence. See, elections, as it were, are never do-or-die affairs where people foolishly end their lives for the small stipends given to them by desperate politicians. 

Electoral violence is one of the strategies employed by Nigerian politicians during the electioneering period. Election is the heart of democracy, and any occurrence of violence or acts that disrupt the peaceful conduct of electioneering is capable of shutting down the whole system.

The vectors of the contagion called electoral violence are lovers of electoral malpractices who seek the slightest of opportunities to cause chaos so they can carry out their fraudulent acts which are a clear indication of politics being quick ways of amassing wealth in this part of the world.

However, the cloud may seem dark, but there is a silver lining somewhere that can change the narratives in a twinkling of an eye.

Youths and the entirety of the marginalized now is the time to troop out en masse and exercise your civic rights and responsibilities. Don’t just come off that mindset that my vote will not count, they already have a winner, bimodal voters accreditation system (BVAS) will be hacked and used for rigging by the forthcoming 2023 general elections.

Let’s engage in peer-to-peer sensitization and community awareness creation within our locality. You can be an instrument of change capable of influencing one, and this one in turn influences another, the chain goes on and on till a whole community is properly informed.

Canvassing on the day of the election is a capital offense, capable of triggering violence, as such the security agents should be properly equipped and given a standing order to take on any person who acts otherwise.

Mr. Lawrence Peter is the Team Lead of the Cross River State Technical Working Committee of #VoteNotFight #ElectionNoBeWar Campaign.

NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Lawrence Peter, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.

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