2023 and citizens’ power in elections

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With the 2023 presidential elections fast approaching, and this current dire situation of our society where the quest for power has changed the narrative of power shift and struggle, there is the high tendency for prevalence of electoral malpractice and youth exploitation by our leaders and candidates who crave so much for power and are ready to do whatever it takes to get it without regards to the consequences.

Over the years Nigeria’s democracy has been tested in so many ways in which electoral malpractice has eaten deep into the system and has affected the citizens in so many ways that a typical Nigerian only has a negative thought whenever the topic of elections are brought up because we have lost faith in the system. Ballot snatching, vote manipulation, use of political thugs have characterised our elections.

Electoral apathy has so endemic and prevalent among the citizenry that many have lost hope in the government. Many Nigerians have made up their minds that they will not vote due to the fact that they feel that their votes will not count and that they won’t get the chance to elect a good leader since it’s the same old politicians we are recycling in the system again and again.

Recently, there have been huge turnouts at political campaigns for various parties in different states in Nigeria but it won’t be a matter of surprise to find out that most of these supporters who turn out for this campaigns only attend because of the gratification and monetary gift from the campaign grounds. But in real sense many don’t even have their permanent voters card talk more of voting for the right leaders in the upcoming elections.
Corruption has destroyed the psyche of the citizens especially the youth who have been blinded by cash by politicians so much so that these youths are willing to channel all their energy to crimes like ballot snatching, and acting as political thugs. The youth should realise that they are the key to elections as they play a vital role In the emergence of a credible leader that can lead the country to greatness.

The Independent National Electoral Commission {INEC} has provided multiple voters registration centres across the country for easy access of the PVC so there will be no room for excuse for any citizen to slack off and not exercise his/her franchise by not voting in the upcoming elections. Nigerians especially the youths should understand that it’s not all about rallies where we see leaders come and talk and dance, we should be able to filter who is really competent to rule the country so at the end of the day we are to blame if we elect another bad set of leaders.

It’s time for the youths to stand up and realise that they are democracy, they are the future, they are the power to shape the future by choosing a good leader instead being political errand boys to politicians who exploit them and abandon them thereafter until after four years of another election cycle.

In Nigeria, we the citizens, need to realise that the one time we truly have power, the only one time in every four years when we get to exercise our franchise is our only opportunity to elect leaders who can elevate and positively change the situation of the country and not vote a leader on the basis of tribe or religion or because he/she shared bags of rice, or squandered money during campaigns – once all that is over reality shall dawn on us and it may be too late.

Stella Amos Mamza,
Department of Mass Communication,
University of Maiduguri

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