Democracy is arguably one of the most ingenious political systems that man has ever created. Democracy is all about choice, the ability of the ordinary citizen to participate in the process of choosing their own leaders. In a democracy, things are a lot less arbitrary and your opinion matters. And therein lies the strength of democracy.
However, one thing that we must realise as a people living within a democratic society is that democracy does not just give you the ability to choose, it demands that you make a choice through the organized electioneering process. When you do not exercise your right to choose, you effectively transform democracy into a system where the majority who ideally should rule, is unidentifiable.
Every four years, Nigeria goes through a constitutionally mandated recruitment and layoff exercise. Nigerian politicians seem to have perfected the art of wooing disgruntled Nigerians and getting them to trust them for the next four years only to make the same promises all over again. So, with the next general elections merely weeks away, it would seem like there is no reason to participate in this next dance. Like Nigerian politicians have perfected the art of making promises and breaking them, we as ordinary citizens have also perfected the art of avoiding our responsibility as citizens, justifying it on the basis of the failures of the ruling class. But the truth is when you do not participate, you enable the failure of the ruling class, you permit rigging, you help build illegitimacy in government.
With over twenty million permanent voter’s cards lying unclaimed at PVC collection centres, it is clear that we as a people are not doing as much as we should be doing to rewrite the narrative for Nigeria. We cannot continue to bond with other Nigerians over the trauma of persistent government failures; we need to work actively against it. As a civil organization based in Nigeria, the Rising Child Foundation is launching a PVC collection awareness drive to encourage registered voters to collect their voter’s cards ahead of the elections. In partnership with GoVote we would be working in Kano State, specifically in the local government areas of Dala, Fagge, Gwale, Kano Municipal, and Kumbotso. These areas have a record of high voter registration, and the aim of this project is to reduce the gap between registered voters and actual voters.
Community based projects such as this has been the focal point of many of the initiatives from the foundation since it started operations in the North-central part of Nigeria in the past three years. As an organization working towards the aim of sustainable development in Nigeria, we recognize that the policy and legal changes that are necessary to create progress in education and to close the gender gap in all aspects of human endeavour particularly in politics, must be driven by strategic lobbying of the political class.
Electing a responsive government is fundamental to achieving our aims as an organization and the only way to do this is to encourage voter participation and help facilitate the process of electing a legitimate government for the country.
Leveraging on our existing structure of community volunteers and radio programs, the Rising Child Foundation aims to reduce the margin between registered voters and actual voters down to a single digit. Over the next few weeks, we would be working within these communities to provide information to voters and to monitor and evaluate the results of our efforts within these communities.
Our main task would be to reiterate to registered voters that their civic responsibility is not just to register to vote, but to actually vote and protect their mandate. That the Permanent Voter Card is not just a national document you get just in case it is a prerequisite for some government welfare programme in the future, the only way to unlock any privileges as a Nigerian citizen is to COLLECT YOUR PVC AND VOTE WISELY.
Special thanks to CCHub and GoVote for funding this project.