There is a lot that is being said today about the need for Nigerians to actively get involved in the political process – civil society groups including ours have launched campaigns urging Nigerians to get their Permanent Voters Cards PVC and prepare to exercise their electoral franchise at the polling stations across the country. This enthusiasm is a great improvement from where we have been since we re-embraced democracy in 1999. However, based on my enhanced understanding of the electoral and political process, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that just having a PVC and voting is not enough.
You see, the majority of people involved in politics today – that are actually members of political parties mainly consist of people who have made politics their professions and have never really developed capabilities outside the political sphere to add any real value to our society. These people unfortunately determine everything – the structure of the internal party democracies and all the politics and intrigues that take place within the parties ultimately determines the candidates that make it to the ballots on election day.
If forward thinking Nigerians decide to get their PVCs and are primed to go out on election day to vote without getting involved in the political parties that determine the candidates, then it means that we may be left with no better choices to vote for than the ones put forward by the ill-intentioned people who hold sway in the political parties.
Some courageous Nigerians have decided to establish political parties with disruptive ideologies and philosophies that are a break from the norm of the traditional parties in Nigeria and have been calling and indeed pleading with other forward-thinking Nigerians to join them. The responses haven’t been impressive – most people salute us for our courage, offer kind words and prayers, but prefer to “stay away” from joining the political parties, as if to say political parties are secret cults that they should keep away from.
My fellow Nigerians of the forward-thinking extraction do not be deceived, if you do not join political parties and get involved in the actual selection of candidates, then the professional politrikcians will play their usual games and provide us with less-than worthy candidates on election day. Your PVCs will therefore be rendered either useless or insipid, as you will be left with two choices – to go back or stay at home without voting or to vote for the less-than-appropriate candidates who make it to the ballot.
Clearly, getting a PVC is not enough. In the words of former Ghanaian President and African Statesman Kwame Nkrumah – “seek ye first the political kingdom, and other things will be added to you”. If forward thinking Nigerians do not play a role in the political kingdom, your forward-thinking views and aspirations will be rendered irrelevant by a political class and system that constantly keeps you on the outside #Let’sGetInvolved
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