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February 16: An Impotent Electorate?

N. F. Kenure


With the Nigerian presidential elections less than two weeks away, I find myself in a state of ambivalence.


One wonders how long hope can sustain itself. How long can one quietly yearn for change, only to be greeted yet again by the familiar void of disappointment?


Regrettably, I do not possess a Permanent Voter's Card (PVC). It's somewhat embarrassing to admit, given I made three earnest attempts to acquire one. The process was an exercise in futility, a clear message that the system is not designed for our convenience. On my first attempt, I was the 343rd person in line by 8 am, only to learn that a mere ten individuals would be served that day. Such experiences are a testament to the proficiency of Nigerian bureaucracy in breeding frustration—a sentiment echoed by countless online testimonies of people who've been let down by INEC staff.


Perhaps I conceded too quickly, adopting a defeatist 'y'all won' attitude after those three exhausting days.


Even if I had persevered and obtained my PVC, there's a pervasive cynicism that our votes are merely theatrical props in a pre-scripted play of power. The notion that our efforts, standing for hours under the scorching sun, are but a testament to a faith untethered from the reality of our political landscape. Universities remain shuttered by strikes, an issue that barely registers as a blip on the electoral campaign radar. But then again, this is Nigeria—should we be surprised?


The two primary contenders evoke the grim dilemma of a ‘Sophie's choice’. It's widely acknowledged that independent candidates, lacking majority party support in legislative houses, might struggle to govern effectively. Or could I be mistaken? Given the fluidity of Nigerian politicians' party affiliations, it's conceivable that a gradual shift could occur, potentially ushering these independents into the mainstream. Nonetheless, the candidacies of individuals like Moghalu—technocrats with international experience—offer a glimmer of hope. The firebrands like Sowore and even the enigmatic Durotoye, whose contributions I'm admittedly unaware of, are indicative of our collective craving for new and youthful vigour in governance—not just in the presidency but across all government tiers.


The term 'change' has been rendered meaningless. Nigeria is in dire need of a cognitive revolution, having strayed perilously off course, necessitating a formidable combination of intellect and resolve to navigate us back. If you have a PVC, I implore you to exercise your right. It’s the least we can do. And to the victor of the election: the nation pleads that you rise to the occasion. Abeg!


Feb 5, 2019