2015 AND THEDIVERSIONARY POLITICS
As the countdown to the 2015 general elections continues, politicalactivities in the country are beginning to gather momentum! The usual politicalrhythm is gradually taking the centre stage. Nocturnal meetings are not leftout! Instead of directing precious times and energies on articulating anddrafting unbeatable manifestoes on how to move the country forward, somepoliticians are still dissipating energies on pigeon-holed political arguments. Prior to the conduct of the 2011General Elections in the country, many socio-political organizations andpressure groups sprang up championing one cause or the other. Instead ofhelping to educates voters on how to vote on Election Day, because according toreports, out of the 140 million populations in 2006 census, 75,751,576 peoplerepresenting 54.1 percent of the population are illiterates. These are peoplewho cannot read or write! The misplacement of priorities in the preparationsfor
the conducts of the general elections in 2011 affected citizen'sparticipation in the poll. Imagine in a country where there are 73,528,040 registeredvoters, only 39,469,484 representing about 53.7 percent of the electoratesvoted in the presidential election, of which 1,259,506 votes were cancelled.This means that only 38,209, 978 votes were accepted. Like what happened in2011, we are precipitating to the same diversionary politics that encouraged voter'sapathy! The March 16, 2013 Council Polls held in the Federal CapitalTerritory has given us the inkling of what to expect in 2015 if nothing is done urgently to raise voters awareness. For example, out of the 476,628 registered voters, the number of accredited voters were 34,018, while thetotal number of votes cast was 30,840 of which the total number of valid voteswas 29,123. As usual, 1,717 votes representing 0.4 percent of the totalregistered voters for the council polls were rejected. What was
witnessed againwas voter's indifference, lack of adequate voter's awareness and voterseducation. Iam not living in an ivory tower where I must expect 100 percent turnoutof voters, but in an election where the total number of valid vote is 6.1percent, I think something better than diversionary politics is what we need atthe very moment! Voter's apathy is everywhere, but improvement is needed!According to The Washington Post publication of November 5th 2012,in 2008, 131 million Americans cast their ballots in the Presidential Election,while 15.5 registered voters did not vote in the election. In the same vein, 30million Americans did not even register to vote in the 2008 election! 5.7million Americans either did not know how to vote or where to register or missedthe deadlines. The report ranked United States among the countries with low voter'sturnout. But, theirs is still better than ours here in Nigeria, where somevoters don't even know how to
vote correctly! The report concluded that, toencourage voter's turnout on Election Day, there should be voting by e-mail,while mandatory voting should be encouraged. Declaring national holiday on ElectionDay was also recommended! Among the entire recommendations, I think what we needin Nigeria is making voting on Election Day mandatory. There is nothing wrongif Nigeria should join the League of Nations with mandatory voting laws, as currentlyin practice in Australia! Another pattern the coming 2015 General Election is takingis politicians jumping from one platform to forming new platforms like whathappened in South Africa in 2008, where some politicians went and formedCongress of the People COPE, to challenge the dominant African NationalCongress ANC In the 2009 election. Instead of staying in their parties todeepen party discipline and grow internal democracy in their parties, somepersons are busy floating new political parties without flouting
formidable structureson grounds to make it competitive! As an active participant in the 2011Presidential Election, I observed that most voters don't even know the names ofsome of our political parties. Hence, they are voting based on logos. Theproblem with flouting new political party is that, it will take time, effortsand resources for the logos of the new parties to be popular and familiar withthe people, especially the illiterates in the rural areas. To have an improved election in 2015, we should stop the repetitionof some of the dramas that heralded the conduct of the 2011 General Electionsin 2015 election preparations. We need issue-based politics; we need concreteblue-prints on how to move the country forward, create jobs for the youths,house the homeless, provide health care for our people, and provide cleanwater, food and other infrastructures for our people. Hence, I dare say, enoughof this diversionary politics please! Comrade Edwin Ekene
Uhara is an activist and a publicaffairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerians forChange.07065862479, [email protected] 29, Ben Mbamalu Crescent, Achara Layout, Enugu State.