By: Collins Odogwu
photo credit: allwestafrica.com
Cote d’ivore, Zambia, Benin, Chad, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Sao Tome, and Seychelles all have their people heading to the polls to put the power of the thumb to work. The question is, in this 2011 “What does your vote stand for?”
That question is best symbolized by another one of Africa’s giants going through Presidential, Parliamentary, and State level elections. The Nigerian election has been by far one of the most anticipated on the continent. You almost get the sense that the outcome would be a benchmark for neighboring countries, as well as set a precedence for what is in store for the oil rich nation.
Now you can always trust the green and white nation to step up to the plate with equal amount of drama to warrant all the publicity it’s been getting. First off, having about 20 registered candidates running for the coveted spot creates a stumbling block. The INEC process has never been the best and 2011 was the year of promises for improvement and change, but right off the bat you had voter registration problems with finger prints. This was almost a leading indicator of the events that would follow. The elections calendar got pushed back due to logistics issues, as if the suspense and anticipation could not induce a minor stroke already.
Updated calendar contained the following changes:
April 9th- Senate & House of Representative Elections
April 16th- Presidential Elections
April 26th- State/Governorship Elections
If there had ever been questions about the legitimacy of the 2011 elections, then they were further enhanced by all the issues and irregularities on April 9th 2011. Are we incapable of having free and fair elections on any level or are we hardwired to be sore losers every time? You read the news and hear eye witness reports of public figures you held at high esteem stooping so low to devalue their brand all for a taste of “Real Power.”
Nigeria deserves better. It’s children deserve a better example. Enter the various youth advocacy movements that have sprung up in the past year or two. “What about us”, “If Naija Votes”, “Vote or Quench” have all done their part in galvanizing the youth movement. The question needs to be asked, stats show that about 70% of the Nigerian population is under 30 years of age. The equivalent of the baby-boomers situation in North-America is definitely on the cards for Nigeria and the African continent. However you are looking at a country that has no formal plan to empower its young people and ensure generational excellence.
The call for these prominent youth advocacy organizations would be to stay relevant and consistent with their reasons for incorporation. The argument is that within the next four years, unless a miracle happens, we are going to be pretty much in the same situation. A quick sample of the candidates political plater doesn’t instill confidence in their dedication to good governance with a hint of youth friendly policies.
With the elections ending in April, the hope is that these organizations would take on more sustainable practices to ensure that they stay fresh and relevant. Almost like a watch dog and a beacon for all that is good in Nigerian governance. So that at the turn of 2015 we can all be proud of the caliber of candidates that step to the table. The stage is set for organizations such as “What about us”, “If Naija Votes” and “Vote or Quench” to really be great on behalf of the people they represent. We ask that you keep doing us proud.
Almost like a hidden talent, an undercover identity, or a super-power you never knew you had, the power of the opposition thumb is relevant in today’s world of tomorrow. Nigeria is the country in question, Saturday April 16th is the time and the place, and you are the hero. What will your vote count for? Your vote counts, don’t hold back. Vote to save a life.
My name is Collins Chiedu Odogwu a writer by day and my vote signifies change for the Niger-Delta. What will you use your power for?