Permanent voters card is a legitimate, invaluable right of every citizen in Nigeria who has attained the age of eighteen years. It is therefore a pertinent instrument for participating in choice of elections to determine the order and structure of which party and the particular individual feature by the party to govern a particular enclave or state, country, local government as the case may be.
It is the fundamental requirement all over the world for the citizen to register as a prospective voter in order to participate in an election. However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been magnanimous to every Nigerian to register for the election for over two months now but many Nigerians have no time, some are not even mindful of it, some Nigerians are showing aparthy, some even believe it is not their business but when the few citizens that register would ultimately vote, they will impose a poor imperceptible leader who will not perform. Those of us who are complaining now that they have no time will have cause to loose some volume of business. The groups that are showing aparthy now will have to embrace bad governance because they have given opportunity to a mediocre to the position of authority. Registration of permanent voters card is the journey to enthroning a good government. It is pertinent to note that the fundamental indices of underdevelopment in Nigeria; lack of adequate electricity, water supply, bad roads, lack of health care and deprepit educational infrastructure are as a result of this willful disenfranchisment (self disenfranchisment).
The gory statistics from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last week that about six million people registered in the entire South/East, eight million people in south west and over fourteen million people in the North is to say the least disturbable.
It is predictable that such people will be able tgo influence the decision of determining who will emerge as leaders. It is paradoxical that the same people who will be complaining that there is no good governance, no facilities are now sleeping, showing aparthy. The first rudimentary and legitimate thing is for every eligible voter to go and register. It is important to come out for registration.
There should be concerted efforts for every eligible person to register. The Imams in the mosques should help to drive home the message to the worshippers. The churches should do the same. People should use every available opportunity to preach this important message. The citizens should also go a step further to go to the polls when the election period comes. It will not only end there, they should be able to guard and defend their votes, one man, one vote. It is when the generality of the entire citizenry that participate in the election that it could be said to be inclusive. It is only the true leaders that emerge from such elections that is actually democratic. I believe that INEC is putting their merchinery inorder to be able to meet the exigencies of the moment. An Independent Electoral Commission should be truly independent and fair. Let it be that apparent justice and fairness seem to be done. The political time table albeit the electoral time table will not be tailored or skewed in such a way that some parties will have upper hand. Remember, that INEC is an essential part of a good democratic system. If INEC and the notorious party members are partisan, because of particular pecunia benefits, hence we elect candidates that don’t have something to offer, we are drawing back the hand and scope of development of the country to the eighteenth century.
The unpatriotic business of registering under age in a particular section of the country in order to control the machinary of governance is an abomination. It is not just enough for INEC to deny it, but they have to investigate the matter. It starts from registration. If INEC is not involved or collaborates with desperate political office seekers/parties, such incident will not be accommodated. A special court should be constituted to try such persons involved in such cases. Disciplinary measures should be meted out to such officers (INEC) who are culprits.
It is possible to change the party and government in power through the administration of permanent voters card. The country will be sixty in two years time, the various politicians who have been practising politics cannot be said to have moved the country forward. According to the former U.S President, Bill Clinton, in Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, Perspectives on Nigerian Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, 2014. P.90. Democracies don’t attack each other. Irrespective of the parties in power, what should be the ultimate is to advance the course of democracy, the level and standard of living should be better than the previous administration. It is on the basis of this that development should be cumulative. Successive administration should add to the existing developmental progress not retardation.
The dividend of democracy should be felt in all the nook and crannies of this country. The seven hundred and seventy four local councils should feel the impact of democracy. The paradox of living in poverty in the midst of abundance should be reversed.
God has blessed this country with enough natural, human and other resources. We are not supposed to live in poverty but we missed it because of wrong choice of people to govern us. Hence, this is a clarion call on and sundry eligible voters to go and register for the elections. It will not be out of place if INEC could extend the period to a considerable length of time to enable prospective voters to register, if possible the Federal Government could borrow a leaf from the Kano State Government where, public holidays were declared in Kano last year to enable workers to register and vote for the candidates of their choice.
Those from across the Niger, some people from the midwest and south-south who are lookwarm about participation should rise up and go for registration now. It is a vital instrument for determining the choice of government. There is no gain saying the fact to lament over a spilled milk. The level of political consciousness will be high and participation will be inclusive. It is only by so doing that democracy will bring desired dividends and foods on the table of Nigerians. God bless Nigeria and all who are committed to promoting democracy in Nigeria.
Peter O. Ebhohon, Political Science Dept., Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano.