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Nigerian electorates as custodians of political power

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In every democratic setting including Nigeria, there are usually three dominant political groups. They are those already in power or often referred to as incumbent, those willing to clinch power known as the opposition, and those used to access power known as the electorates.

While the first two belong to conventional parties recognized by law, the last is where the ordinary citizens belong. The electorates are at the receiving end of whatever policies the incumbent comes up with whether bad or good. However, they can be very strong and formidable to determine the direction of politics. This is because democracy allows for the majority to have their say even though the minority may have their way. Be that as it is may however, the electorates with their numerical strength are vested with more powers to decide the fate of both the incumbent and the opposition at the polls.

Unfortunately, it appears electorates in this clime are yet to realize the enormous powers they have to re-direct political outcomes.

By unseating an incumbent president in January 2015 elections for the present administration, it seems the electorates are beginning to realize the efficacy of their powers. According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), about 70 million eligible voters were registered but less than half of that number cast their votes in the 2015 elections. This was a clear case of voter apathy, which is a major challenge in the conduct of elections.

The electoral umpire has currently projected that about 10 million additional eligible voters will be registered in the ongoing voters registration exercise before next year’s polls. But it has lamented that over 8 million Permanent Voters Card PVC’s had not been collected by their owners. Now that it has released the time table for next year’s general elections, which would be conducted between February and March 2019, Nigerians of voting age of 18 should take advantage of the exercise to empower themselves. Similarly, many who have registered in the past but have not collected their PVC’s should equally do so and on time.

It is common nowadays for electorates to engage in political arguments on the social media but do nothing during elections. It must be noted that the use of the social media to express political opinions does not translate to any tangible results as only those with PVC’s can decide the fate of the contestants during elections.

The arrogance of some non performing elected officials is predicated on the fact that they have enjoyed the seeming inability of the electorates to vote them out of office over time. This is partly so because many Nigerians have not shown interest in the political affairs of the country. Such people think politics is for some specific people and it is a sin to engage in it. They are ignorant of the fact that politics which they have so demonized affects their lives in every ramification.

For instance, when the electorates allow the system to produce incompetent officials, the policies of such administration will affect their economy, their security and the education of their children.

Elsewhere, citizens are deeply involved in the emergence of leadership which turns to be responsive, responsible and accountable for the fear of being removed by the people. But here in Nigeria, it appears many people are oblivious of the fact that politics is a game of numbers and they can harness their numerical strength to their great advantage. Many have resigned to fate and are merely waiting for the walls of Jericho to collapse without any positive actions.

The 2019 general elections will yet again provide another opportunity for Nigerians to use their voter cards to decide the fate of candidates seeking elective positions. Events to the polls show that Nigerians are beginning to realize the enormous powers they have as electorates. Therefore, stakeholders including the electoral umpire should by way of encouragement allow for a fair playing ground before, during and after the all-important 2019 general elections.

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