Why just getting your PVC is not enough

Getting a voter's card is one thing, making a well-informed decision with it is an entirely different cup of tea.

From religious leaders across the country to business owners (especially on the internet), to so-called social media influencers, and opposition leaders, the clamour for Nigerians to get their PVC is unprecedented.

At the root of this clamour is an ugly reality that has chipped away at the Nigerian consciousness for the past three years (or longer, depending on who you ask).

Many of the leading advocates for citizens to be more involved in the country's politics have relentlessly pointed fingers at the arguably disastrous tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari.

It is this gnawing exasperation with the status quo that has led to former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili's Red Card and former President Olusegun Obasanjo's deliberately vague Coalition for Nigeria which are desperate to 'change the change'.

When you strip the "Get your PVC" movement bare to the bones, it is undoubtedly a drive to kick out President Buhari from the top of the country's political chain and install a friendlier, more tender, and more effective leader to lead the country out of its perpetual state of mediocrity.

Despite what many, especially the ruling All Progressives' Congress (APC), might consider a mean-spirited campaign to kick the president and his party out of power after only four years, the clamour for Nigerians to be more involved in politics cannot be seen as anything other than well-intentioned, as a democracy should be.

However, this campaign still leaves a wide gulf for a familiar disaster to fill come 2019.

Deja vu

Argue about the circumstances and the little grey areas all you want, but the truth is Nigerians have been here before.

Heading into the 2015 general elections, there was almost the same level of feverish clamour for Nigerians of voting age to unleash the power of their PVC and bring sweeping change against the country's unrepentant political class.

It's only been three years since that supposed revolution happened, but many have already voiced their chronic struggle with buyer's remorse and want to trade in their terrible purchase for something shinier next year.

There's no doubt that Nigerians are not exactly thrilled with the calibre of candidates churned out by the APC or People's Democratic Party (PDP) anymore. The only problem is that these two remain the biggest in the country and no 'third force' has come close to mounting a serious challenge with just over a year to the 2019 general elections.

The painful truth is that with the structures these parties have put together over the years, they'll still control a majority of electoral victories in 2019.

With that in mind, if 2015 taught Nigerians anything, it is that merely choosing whoever is the opposite of 'incompetent' is not necessarily 'competent'.

It is widely acknowledged that President Buhari rode into Aso Rock on the back of the outrage a majority felt against the indolent administration of then-president, Goodluck Jonathan.

Despite the reservations that were expressed by many regarding his past, Buhari was voted in because he was the biggest candidate at the 2015 polls that wasn't Jonathan.

From all indications, this might be about to unfold again in 2019, and the "Get your PVC" movement proves it.

Again, despite the good-natured objective driving this campaign, it's merely a half-measure against a varied monster.

Voter education

Spitefully casting votes for "the opposite of X" is not a well-informed decision. Casting a vote for someone because they're from the same locality, or tribe, or share the same religion as you is not a well-informed decision. Casting a vote for someone because they're young and daring to topple the political class is not a well-informed decision. At least, not when these are the most important considerations that sway your votes.

There are decidedly too many factors that can represent a well-informed decision when it comes to casting a vote that it'd be impossible to start listing them all; but, the most important one has to be that you reach that decision through a meticulous, selfless method of examination.

Even if it turns out you made a terrible choice, it'll be hard to feel as much repulsion at yourself for making what you believed was the best decision at some point.

Don't make decisions based on what other people tell you, make them based on what you know for yourself to be closest to the truth.

That's if you deign to make any decision at all as the voter turnout for the 2015 general elections showed.

Out of the total of 67,422,005 voters registered, only 29,432,083 (43.65%) cast their votes in the presidential election.

That's 56.35% of Nigerians of voting age who might as well not have bothered to get their PVC because they failed to utilise it for its most basic function.

All votes matter

Most crucially, one conversation that's always found wanting in Nigerian politics, and is mostly missing in this "Get your PVC" movement, is how crucial grassroots politics is to revamping the country's entire political structure.

By and large, most of Nigeria's elections have always focused on the biggest prize which is the presidency.

This is borne out of the grand expectation that the country can be saved when an honest good-intentioned leader seizes the mantle of leadership and effects the sort of remarkable change Nigeria needs to make significant leaps in progress.

However, the reality is that before Nigeria can reach such dizzying heights of progress that the average Nigerian can only dream about, the country needs more than one honest good-intentioned leader in elective positions to make it happen.

Such positions are hiding in the guise of elections that determine who'll be state governors, state and federal lawmakers, Local Government Chairpersons, and Councillors.

Voting for these positions get less fanfare than for presidential elections, but they're just as pivotal to reconfiguring the country in a totally different light that turns the table in the favour of the majority.

Other than for governorship positions, a good portion of the electorate doesn't particularly know or care about their legislative representatives, or the kind of role they fulfil in the grand scheme of things.

This means that while Nigerians can make an absolutely perfect choice in who becomes president, a terrible choice in the other organs of government will definitely impact on whatever good intention such a president might have.

Merely putting great icing on a terrible cake is not going to prevent it from producing a terrible eating experience.

So while you work off a sweat to acquire your PVC, keep that same energy to educate yourself to make a well-informed decision and vote for who represents your interests to occupy all important positions across the board.


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