We implore the 84million registered Nigerian voters to go to their respective polling stations tomorrow and cast their votes in the Presidential and National Assembly polls. The election offers them the opportunity to choose those that will pilot the affairs of the country in the next four years. Unarguably, this is one civic duty that cannot and should not be delegated. While the time for preparation, argumentation and waiting can be said to be over, tomorrow is the day of action.
In most parts of the world, it is considered irresponsible to skip the vote, based on the axiom that bad governments are elected by good citizens who refuse to vote. Indeed, in some countries, it carries with it a sanction, including being excluded from some privileges. A non-voting citizen has apparently testified to his indifference if not apathy toward the welfare of his or her community.
Nigerians offer a multiplicity of views about how they feel about our governments at various levels. Regardless of what they feel about the governments, now is the opportunity to turn those views into action because the vote is the only way our views can have an impact in the halls of power. Therefore, we urge Nigerians to vote and remain at the polling stations until the votes are counted and displayed. That is the best way to protect their votes.
No doubt, the most effective way to rekindle hope in a democracy is to vote. Therefore, the boycott of election, being mooted in some quarters, does not arise. Let every eligible voter go and vote. The presidential slot is supremely important because whoever wins becomes the supreme captain, the moral leader, the enforcer of our laws, and the commander-in-chief.
The two principal presidential candidates have had kinetically powerful and colourful campaigns, although far short on details. Seventy-one other presidential candidates in the race had also done their best in the campaigns. The half-hearted attempts to break the two-party mould failed and none of the alliances seems to have got any traction. Moreover, the constricted election schedule of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not leave enough room for a reasonable expansion of the political parties’ space.
The campaigns have been largely peaceful barring occasional avoidable acts. Every election cycle in the last 20 years underscores why Nigeria should absolutely prohibit political thuggery or curb it with condign punishment for both the thug and his employer. Yet, the INEC must do the best with the little it has and ensure that 2019 exercise is cleaner than 2015.
We also urge the electoral umpire to ensure that no ballot boxes are snatched and that no child-voters are permitted in any part of the country as witnessed in past elections. The police and other security agencies deployed for the election must be patriotic and non-partisan in the discharge of their duties. They should ensure security before, during and after the elections. Politicians and their supporters should shun violence and sundry electoral infractions.
It is expected that tomorrow should be a happy day in Nigeria, for an election day is nothing short of a celebration of democracy. Given what the country has been through in the last 58 years, it is a worthy celebration. The police and other security agencies should create the environment for the enjoyment of that celebration by making voting a less painful experience, by not creating a war situation in polling centres, and by strictly working in close cooperation with INEC officials.
Much has been said about vote-buying. The electorate should not sell their votes. We hope enough eyes are watching the vote merchants. The world is watching Nigeria this weekend, and everyone, from candidates to the voter to police and electoral officials, must ensure that the exercise is credible and peaceful.
It is also good that the presidential candidates have signed a second peace accord. It is our expectation that they should abide by the rules of the game. We expect the election to be free, fair and transparent. There is the need to ensure that the votes count and that the wishes of Nigerians are respected. Since the electoral umpire has promised Nigerians a free and credible poll, Nigerians would expect no less from the agency.