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Your Vote! Your Choice!

Your Vote! Your Choice!

Written by: Ayobami Akinyode Olunloyo



What is only prevalent during election season? Voter education! 

During election periods, many civil society organisations do well to steer voters toward who, why, what, and how to choose, but perhaps the route to political maturity as a nation lies on the path of continuous education. 

On the question of who; there will always be the divide between the 2Ps – “Polity” and “Politicians”. They are two parts of an important 3-part balancing act; but before discussing the third part, consider the EQUILATERAL triangle. What is special about it? All sides and all angles are equal. Applying this to politics produces an ideal picture of equilibrium between the 2Ps  and their umpire – the electoral regulatory body – in our case, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). That picture is the result of painstaking research conducted by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, which eventually gave birth to the #FixPolitics movement. In this piece, I address you (and me) – the polity; we the voters. 

You see, a single tree on its own is just that – a tree. However, when it is surrounded by a thousand more of its kind, it is a forest. Trees don’t win elections, forests do. In other words, voters decide elections when they combine efforts, but it still starts with the power of one!

The polity is made up of citizens with a particular right. The right to vote. With that right comes responsibility. The responsibility to express it, but in doing so; to research, assess, and hold political candidates to account. Getting Nigerian voters to do this, is one of the critical success factors needed to change our political outcomes. Politicians must be made keenly aware that the polity will take them on. For far too long, the former has taken the latter for granted and distorted the ‘equilateral’ stability described above, so much so, that the spread of power is anything but balanced. Dr. Oby calls this a monopolistic democracy – where the politicians have disproportionately acquired political power to the point of making the polity subservient and the umpire defanged. 

We find ourselves here, partly because we run a politics of ‘money’ not one of ideas. Where voters ought to filter candidates based on their proposed solutions to prevalent societal challenges, our system potentially screens out viable choices in preference for those who simply can out-spend another. This must change if we are to repeatedly attract credible individuals to our offices of state. This must change if Nigeria is to fulfill her potential. It is why we must together choose correctly and take back what is ours by birthright – Nigeria itself. 

Now, if you want to know what to choose, it’s easy: 3Cs – Character, Competence, Capacity. We must choose individuals who put sound values and integrity above shady actions and personal gain. They must be conversant with the unique challenges facing our nation and be deftly skilled in addressing them. They must have hearts and minds large enough to ‘ask what they can do for their country’ and be willing to give it sacrificially. Is that a tall order? I don’t think so! 

Quoting the late Professor J.O. Irukwu in his book ‘Nigeria at 100: What Next?’, we have permitted an “invasion of the country’s leadership by delinquents” (page 176); to which I add that that only happens when the polity fails at its responsibility to check and balance politicians. 

As to how the polity retakes the initiative, it will require some effort and hard work. As a good investor would do when deciding where to put money, voters must be willing to do the important work of thoroughly evaluating the choices before them. We cannot afford to be the fast-food generation always looking to microwave the answer into being. 

However, as a politician myself, I recently got asked – “What makes you different?”

I had to reflect on this, but my answer emerged 3-fold: My Word, My Values, My Training. Nigerians have been so battered by bad leadership that we have become acutely untrusting of anyone, but we must be willing to take people at their word and test them; if they don’t check out, take your vote back next time. Good values are embraced by people who understand the value of good in life; search for those, they exist. 

Finally, if a patient on an operating table was told that the doctor was not a doctor at all but just wanted to try out the procedure; OR if the passengers on an aircraft shortly before taxiing heard over the PA system that the person in the cockpit is merely an enthusiast trying out the controls, what would you do in each of these cases? I will leave that to your imagination, but this is precisely what we allow many ‘politicians’ to do. The job of running a country requires far more than waking up one day to a feeling; it requires preparation, learning, and understanding.

It is written in a famous book that ‘faith without works is dead’; I say: “voting without accountability is dead”. It is time for the Nigerian polity to change the game, signal to our politicians that ‘enough is enough’, and re-balance the triangle.


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 – Ayobami Olunloyo is a passionate Nigerian and performance-driven leader in operations, strategy, and management with over 20 years of experience. He is also the pioneer valedictorian of the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG).

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