2019 Elections: Appraising The Nigerian Voter

A voter (right), undergoing accreditation.

In most constitutional and representative democracies the world over, the Voters’ Ballot is the most potent weapon in determining the level of confidence or otherwise the electorate has in a political dispensation. If a political dispensation performs creditably well to the satisfaction of all and sundry, the electorate/voter reserves the constitutional right and power to allow it continue in office by their verdict via the ballot box.
In contrast, if the administration ill-performs or fails to fulfill its electoral promises as contained in its party manifesto, which it presented to the people prior to going to the polls, such administration is voted out of office by the electorate through the ballot.
It is common knowledge that every succeeding political dispensation has the tradition of presenting to the electorate (via its manifesto) a thousand and one programmes and projects which it intends to execute as soon as it comes to power. But is this really the case in the true sense of the word in the Nigerian political system? The answer is obviously No. This is because the reverse becomes the case no sooner they mount the seat of political power.
The present administration, prior to coming to power in 2015, hinged its manifesto on a three-pronged electoral promises namely: to ensure the security of lives and property of Nigerians which is very cardinal as contained in chapter two section 14, sub-section 2 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; to fight endemic corruption and to ensure economic transformation and empowerment, especially for the teeming youths. But today the reverse is what we see; the state of insecurity across the nation, particularly in the north-east, north-central and in fact some other parts of the country, is better imagined than described.
We are all living witnesses to the spate of wanton and senseless killings in Borno, Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara States to mention just a few by the Boko Haram terrorists and more recently by the armed herdsmen, which have led to countless loss of lives and property.
The level of insecurity in this dispensation is worse than all the past administrations put together. It is quite alarming and disheartening to note that most of the inhabitants in the areas aforementioned have been practically displaced and rendered homeless in their own ancestral homes.
The survivors of the Boko Haram and herdsmen onslaught are daily living in fear and have been exposed to all forms of diseases, hunger and starvation as a result of these incessant attacks and killings, and it does seem the nation lacks a strong and vibrant security architecture as well as a sensitive political and proactive leadership direction to put a stop to all of these barbaric killings and destruction.
The irony of the entire scenario is that the current dispensation has sworn to secure and protect the lives and property of the citizenry – which is its constitutional primary obligation – amongst other political and socio-economic responsibilities to the people. But, unfortunately, it has failed in this fundamental responsibility to the citizenry.
The present Federal Government has equally ill-performed in its fight against corruption, which it vowed to execute. What is happening today is indeed a far cry from what it promised the Nigerian populace and in fact the electorate who came all out in their number to vote them into office. This is in spite of the violence that characterised the electoral process before, during and after the elections; as well as the harsh weather conditions they had to contend with during these periods.
Regrettably, since the inception of this administration, not one political/public office holder alleged to have indulged in corruption or embezzlement of public funds or even money laundering has been brought to book or prosecuted by the EFCC and such other agencies charged with that responsibility. What we often see is the shielding of political allies by the leadership of those who were found culpable and exposing only those who are not their political affiliates to media trials.
Again, the present administration has not fared any better economically contrary to its electioneering promises of economic improvement, particularly in the areas of youth empowerment, job creation and infrastructural development. Rather than make better economic policies and decisions that would go a long way to transforming and improving the nation’s economy and its people, it resorted to making policy decisions that are not people-friendly.
For instance, the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the Federal Government, though intended to block loopholes for looting of public treasury, has the negative effect of reducing the volume of cash held by the commercial banks to a single account and consequently limit the amount of cash in circulation. This, in turn, adversely affects people’s purchasing power as well as their businesses and investments locally and internationally.
Other notable impacts are it caused the management of most commercial banks to embark on retrenchment of some of its workforce thus, heightening the already bloated unemployment situation in the country, as well as creating economic hardship for the populace. This is in addition to the high inflation rate brought about by this unwholesome economic policy.
Besides the foregoing, most people could not access credit facilities to finance their business ventures, owing to high interest rates charged by the commercial banks. More than that, the high level of hopelessness among the people in this political dispensation is by far incomparable with other past administrations. This is on account of the harsh economic conditions which impacted negatively on the people to the extent that some people had to take their own lives and till date, others are on the verge of committing suicide as a result of unemployment, delay in payment of salaries and pensions.
Going by the inability of the present administration to fulfill its promises to the electorate prior to their assumption of office and coupled with the insecurity of lives and property of the citizenry, it becomes quite evident that it has failed and as such, it is time the voting population used their ballots to change or remove it as it is the case in other representative democratic climes, especially now that politicians have started gearing up again for yet another electioneering year come 2019, which is some few months from now.
The Nigerian voter is, therefore, urged to consciously and wisely make good use of their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) in exercising their power to unseat an ill-performing administration which neither has regard for human lives, nor could make people-friendly economic policies and elect a selfless and sensitive political leadership, which would give priority attention to security of lives of the people and help them to realise and advance their potentials.
It is more dangerous and suicidal to sit on the fence and remain indifferent to the political process of electing those who would man the helm of affairs of the various arms and tiers of government. We must all actively participate in exercising our franchise to voting out an unpopular and insensitive government through the ballot.
It is often said that if good men who have the potential for selfless service and good leadership sit back and do nothing, bad leaders would continue to perpetuate themselves in our political offices. Therefore, the ultimate power and authority to allow a bad political leadership to remain in office or to change it for good, lies squarely in the power of your ballot. Exercise your voting power wisely!
Fombo is a public affairs analyst.


Iyeowuna Fombo