Why you should not vote in this 2023 presidential election

Recently, one of the people on my contact list lamented, “how do we continue like this? How did we even get here as a nation?” From the texts on her status, I could read the intense sadness emblazoned on them, and in her other texts that screamed of anger. Anger at the hike in prices of foodstuffs, queueing to collect our PVCs, even buying fuel that seems we have in abundance, and before the extension of the deadline on spending old naira notes, anger at how we had to queue to withdraw the new naira notes from ATMs that were not dispensing the new notes. Anger at everything that is not working well in this country: health, security, education, transportation, and you name it. She has every right to be angry, like every other Nigerian.

“A lot of things are wrong with this country,” another cried as I browsed through my news feed on Facebook. It seems everywhere I turn to on social, there is a plethora of lamentations. Even among my friends, I realized that our conversation often dwelled heavily on the pervasive problems of this nation. I was at INEC Office in Ibadan the other day, a young promising man, who should be in his early thirties opined, after others had recounted the problems of the country to everyone’s chagrin, “the only thing that is certain about your living in this country is your death.” While others laughed, of course they found it funny, in the way sad things are funny, the bandwagon effect forced a performative smile on my countenance. Every Nigerian knows that our smiles and laughter are shrouds of our collective pains.

It seems we Nigerians are adapting to every ugly reality that bedevils us. And contrary to what some people may think, adaptation is not a good trait. It pushes us against the wall and makes us keep fighting untill there is no strength to fight. An ideal country should boast excellent healthcare, infrastructural facilities, high life expectancy, superb transportation and communication, decent education, and an improved standard of living and quality of life. These are the ethos that our leaders must strive to build, the hallmarks of any developed country.

And again, as it was again and again in the past, the 2023 general election is upon us. It is a season where we Nigerians as a people decide who will pilot the affairs of this nation for four years, or maybe for eight years. An acquaintance of mine once asked, “do our votes even count in this country?” I find his question notoriously unreasonable, looking at Nigeria’s present socio-economic realities. This acquaintance is not only the only individual on this boat. There are hundreds, make it thousands or more Nigerians who are currently ruminating on this infamous question. There are others who have already given up on Nigeria and sworn they are never going to vote at all, yet they are going to live in this same country with any elected leader. In their words, “I’m not going to waste my vote; whoever will win had already been decided behind doors.”

The truth is, our votes count. They matter. According to former US President Barack Obama, “there is no such thing as a vote that does not matter. It all matters”. Let us ask ourselves a couple of questions: If our votes do not matter, why are our politicians running after us and begging us to vote for them? Why are they buying our votes? In a democracy, the prominent power the citizens have is in their voting. There is no change that can occur without a change in government. The system has to change, and the power to change this solely lies in the voting hands of the citizens.

As a people of Nigeria, our major problem, however, is that we often vote the rotten eggs. Our votes do not count for a leader who has the interest of the country at heart, for a leader who is agile, mentally sane, well-read, young at heart, and selflessly committed to driving this country to a promised land. Our problem is that we’ve always voted based on our tribal sentiments, religious inclinations, ethnic affiliations, and popular candidates foisted on us. And as long as we continue with this mindset, Nigeria may not see the change we earnestly desire.

Read also: Why 2023 election should concern Nigerian elite

Abiodun Sanusi, a National Security Correspondent at @MobilePunch, is right when he said: When they tell you, “vote this man, he’s better than others,” ask them to show you evidence of infrastructural development, poverty reduction, improved health care, and improved power supply, amongst others, that he provided his people during his tenure as governor.

We must look beyond our collective biases when we want to vote for a leader. According to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, “You cannot wish the country well and vote for someone you do not believe in.” If Nigeria is going to be great again, her people must vote. They must vote because they wish the country well. They must vote because they are convinced that it is the right thing to do.

In conclusion, from this piece I have put forward two solid arguments on why you should not vote in this 2023 upcoming general election. First, if you are going to vote because of your tribal sentiment, religious inclinations, ethnic affiliations, and popular candidates foisted on you, you should not vote in the 2023 general election. This is because the results (of the election) and performances of elected candidates might still be the same. Secondly, if you are satisfied with Nigeria’s current socio-economic and political realities, you should not even consider coming out to vote let alone voting for a candidate. After all, none of these candidates are suitable. After all, your belief that your vote does not count is always true.

Ikuerowo writes from the University of Ibadan

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