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Our Apathy, Our Undoing

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I have never voted before, and I am twenty six. I could have voted in 2003 and 2007 if I really wanted to, but  I decided it was not that serious. I  registered  to vote in 2003, but didn’t do so eventually  because of a pronouncement by Abel Guobadia, the  INEC chairman of that era. On a cool dry morning in the premises of the College of Medicine, Idi Araba;  psyched by ideals of a ‘fresh’ President, I had subjected my fingers to be swathed in purple dye, which was the give-away of all of us who had registered. But alas, the day came for elections and I was found wanting because Guobadia insisted that everyone should vote where they registered. I was at home for a break and I didn’t think a jerky bus ride from Victoria Island to Idi-Araba with all its attendant inconveniences was a worthy price to pay for voter involvement. It’s not that serious, I thought to myself!  That year, Obasanjo was re-elected into office, but that is a story for another day. In 2007, voting was not on my mind because NYSC took all the space.

I really started to think of my political involvement when I remembered that this month is voters registration month and April, election month. It’s a busy month for me; family obligations, school, career, writing, etc. I am nearly slipping into complacency again and wondering if I would vote this time and I know I am not alone.

There is such a thing as voter apathy, a term used to describe a perceived apathy (lack of caring) among voters in an election, but I don’t think anyone has more voter apathy than the young Nigerian female. Let’s examine it critically; if you’re  between the ages of 18 and 25, your time is probably spent worrying about admission, school and exams, boy-friends and their marriage suitability, getting a power job, money, how your next Blackberry subscription will come, how many months you may need to spread the payment for that Brazilian Hair, and stuff like that. Or if you’re between 25 and 35, you’re at the point where you’re waiting to be found, while the eligible guys are waiting till they make millions; or if you have been found, struggling with two kids, harassed, in a place like Lagos where you spend three hours in traffic to and from work. And then remember, you still have to resume in the kitchen!

So when you hear Zaki with his torchlight singing Goodluck’s praises on TV or that annoying trio of Saint Obi, new Miss Pepeye and the other guy (can’t recall his name), you just hiss and go. Who cares? Please, where is the remote? Then, you flip to E!, where you can hear that juicy gossip to cool off, or Africa Magic where your brain cells can temporarily hibernate.

A few ladies I know are involved in politics; they were either in the Student Union in the University or have been involved in certain protest rallies in town, but the truth is: majority of us still can’t be bothered. It is either we are frustrated by the inconvenience of physically voting, or we feel our vote will not count/the election has already been won by one side, or we feel it is not worth our while to educate ourselves on the issues and so the vote won’t be worth making. This, I believe is a form of rational ignorance. A disturbing ailment faced by many Nigerian youth!

Disturbing, because it has been well documented that 70% of Nigeria’s population is under 35, with a good chunk of that percentage being females between the age of 18 and 35. Now that is one powerful sector! So that means, if we choose to educate ourselves on what the country needs at this time and who best can deliver it, then we may just have changed the course of Nigeria’s future starting from 2011. The activities of young people, including ladies at the just-concluded Delta State rerun, just shows how powerful we are. I saw minute-by-minute updates on election proceedings on Facebook and Twitter. Way to go! But the big one is still ahead of us.

So, when it’s time to register, let’s all come out and do so, and then follow it up by actually voting.  After all, if we have a good leader, and the economy is better, then maybe we would be able to afford BB subscriptions without sweat, and the guys won’t have to wait to make millions before settling down.

Photo Credit: www. blackpoliticalbuzz.blogspot.com

27 Comments

  1. misstee

    January 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Yet another good one Akan and believe me you actually jolted me to realise that this is voters’ reg month.It’s never crossed my mind prior to this.I will certainly vote for the second time ever..thanks!

  2. yen

    January 10, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Lovely and on point

  3. Gbemi

    January 10, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    lol @ the guys won’t have to wait to make millions before settling down… I doubt that this would suffice as incentive, cos it’s not like guys are falling over themselves to propose in developed economies 😛
    I voted in 2007 and I was disappointed that Jimi Agbaje didn’t win Lagos. I will register and I will vote. Maybe not for my BB subscription, but so that my son would not grow up saying UP NEPA!
    Nigeria will change and I will be part of that change!

    • sweetie

      January 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      true talk gbemi, just because who you voted for didnt win doesnt mean ur dreams of a better nigeria should die.

  4. A Nigerian

    January 10, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    The fight for power in Nigeria is not usually between those who want change and those who want to perpetuate themselves in the corridors of power. Those who want change have never stood up for the change. The people who vote are those who a…re half educated and politicians who know how to lure the common men with handful of rice. Those who want change see election day as public holidays. They fight and start writing in newspapers and threads on fbk after they could not get the desired change without making any effort. Pragmatic public enlightement is the solution. The problem is the people in government are the only ones who can fund such project. If they do it, will they not be swept away from office when in actual fact they want the status quo to continue.

    • GOONERBABE

      January 10, 2011 at 11:47 pm

      Sorry about that, wanted to quote you but ended up posting your entire comment, still working my way around this site. Cheers!

  5. GOONERBABE

    January 10, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Eligible Nigerians need to GO OUT AND VOTE!!! If every registered voter actually goes out to vote on election day, then we would truly be on the way to credible, free and fair elections.

  6. GOONERBABE

    January 10, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    The fight for power in Nigeria is not usually between those who want change and those who want to perpetuate themselves in the corridors of power. Those who want change have never stood up for the change. The people who vote are those who a…re half educated and politicians who know how to lure the common men with handful of rice. Those who want change see election day as public holidays. They fight and start writing in newspapers and threads on fbk after they could not get the desired change without making any effort. Pragmatic public enlightement is the solution. The problem is the people in government are the only ones who can fund such project. If they do it, will they not be swept away from office when in actual fact they want the status quo to continue.

  7. amy

    January 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    wow! akan… this is brilliant! im so impressed

  8. D.O.T.M.H.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    “between the ages of 18 and 25, your time is probably spent worrying about, admission, school and exams, boy – friends and their marriage suitability, getting a power job, money, how your next Blackberry subscription will come, how many months you may need to spread the payment for that Brazilian Hair”

    “or Africa Magic where your brain cells can temporarily hibernate”

    I actually LOL-ed when I read those 2 parts. Let Rita Dominic and the rest catch u! I get your point though. I didn’t even know there was a term for what I feel. Now I know and it’s voter apathy 🙂 Thanks for the education. Sadly, I still feel the same.

  9. Tina Ike

    January 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Akan, this is great BN. Voting is very important part of our lives…especially when a country like ours is full of resources and unused potential! I applaud you and others who empower YOUTHS to register and vote this 2011. For us Nigerians in the diaspora we truly want the opportunity to register/cast our votes abroad, if only that can be set up soon with supervised accountability. In the US for example i have now voted in the last two presidential elections and i cant wait to be able to do so for my home country some day soon. Female voters are key to the movement as you rightly stated with the population stats you gave. I also have connected with an organization “VoteorQuench” we featured them in the 2010Journal for AfriPROHouston org. Their message is great you either “vote or quench”! Keep it up guys.

    • Miss A.T.L.

      January 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

      Are you part of AfriPRO Houston??? I’ve been thinking about the possibility of AfriPRO Atlanta. I need guidance.

  10. sweetie

    January 10, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I just have this to say,If you dont vote then you have no room to complain if things are going bad in the country. If you really care about your country and want to see things change whether it be ur BB subscription or what not, u would get up , register and actually vote. Can u remember in edo state when osunbor declared himself d winner, the indigenes protested and demanded oshiomole as whom they voted for and eventually he was governor. You might say, even if i vote it is already rigged so there is no point, but remember there are many others who would also vote for ur candidate of choice and if pdp..err excuse me a political party decides to pull their tyrant sh#t , the people can always protest and remember the world is watching,thank God for twitter, FB & news media, believe me, they will succumb to the choice of the people…..#rant over#

  11. Miss A.T.L.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    What’s the policy on voting from the diaspora? Is it even possible? Serious question.

    • Ib

      January 11, 2011 at 11:26 am

      Yeah..seriously!!how can we in the Diaspora vote?Also,do we have the technology to carry out overseas voting?Im not being sarcastic here,I really want to vote!!

    • Funmi

      January 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm

      Last time I checked, you have to be physically present in Nigeria to vote. Our infrastructure is nowhere near ready to support hundreds of thousands of citizens living abroad – too many unresolved issues to deal with. We don’t even have a traceable/consistent means of keeping track of every Nigerian (a la SSN in the U.S.). I really don’t see Nigerians abroad being able to vote anytime soon, but it’s a good thing that a lot of us abroad are interested in doing so, as it’s that desire that will move our voting system in the right direction.

  12. NNENNE

    January 11, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Wish they will make provision for people in diaspora to vote. We are still Nigerians.

    Here is wishing Ngeria, a free and fair election!!!!Amen.

  13. Oldgen RIllago

    January 11, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Half way across the world as a kenyan ex-pat I see the same apathy the world over. Young people seem disillusioned about the effect they can have on the political process. I honestly think its youth culture at the root of the apathy. I expand a little here http://opinesofyouth.blogspot.com/2011/01/shallow-fountain-of-youth.html

  14. Oyinda

    January 11, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Thank you for taking time to write this article Akan. Very interesting read and very well written. I hope we can take this matter as seriously as we take the fashion posts and articles on BellaNaija. Ladies, lets do ourselves some justice – register and vote!

  15. Ene

    January 11, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Great write up, but I must say that I live here in the state and it’s true the women votes counts a great deal here In American base on the way the system was set up. Women and heard In America but not in African so strongly feel the same, nothing is gonna change. I don’t regret that fact that I am not voting, but I pray for that country cos it’s hard to change the way politics is viewed in Africa, most especially Nigeria. I grew up in in Barracks and I know what I mean and feel.

  16. ope

    January 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Love ur write up? come to think of it? i havnt actually voted before and am 24. I will try and vote this time.

  17. Atilade

    January 11, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    9ice one Madam!

  18. Doosh

    January 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    nice!! I dont agree with them shutting schools down to register voters….but we all have to register and we all must vote!

  19. aminat abah

    January 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Thank you Akan. It is frustrating sometimes to think of our election process over the past few years.. but thank you for making us see light at the end of the tunnel. We must press on.. I would try and register and vote too

  20. oppsie

    January 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I must vote this year and am encouraging everyone within the legal age limit to vote. Am voting cos am tired of complaining and feeling powerless to make a change i desperately want; not just for myself but also for my children. i would want for my kids not to inherit the same problems we did from our parents; problems such as no running taps, lack of electricity, fuel scarcity, strikes in every sector, comatose health delivery, stigmatizations at every country’s point of entry, having to use 2/3rd of their salaries to educate their kids, and the list goes on. am voting for a change for the future and it starts with me….registering,voting and making sure that my vote is counted.

  21. FeistyPen

    January 13, 2011 at 10:20 am

    I don’t know about voting from the diaspora, but I think that one na long thing.

  22. lizzy

    January 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Nice one Akan, i registered in 2007 in my school campus but couldn’t vote cos on that day, gun men came into the school shooting and made away with the ballot boxes. This happened in Enugu and results were published for that centre….t’was really crazy.

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