Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nigeria’s 2011 Elections II – Voting Like a Blind Sheep!

All is well that ends well, and so is the story of President Ebele Goodluck Jonathan and the 2011 Elections. Despite the election hitches, the killings and grievances, last week he was sworn in as Nigeria’s president. What struck me however, were the events that led to Jonathan’s triumphant re-entry into Aso Rock, the seat of power.

The 2011 elections gave a new face to Nigeria’s polls. Like never before, several Nigerians caught the election fever. A lot of young people who in the past had been disinterested in Nigeria’s elections felt like they had a stake this time around. Loads of young Nigerians got registered and didn’t just end it there, but actually turned up at the polls to vote. Several youth-led campaigns evolved - One man one vote; RSVP – Register, Select, Vote, Protect; Vote for the man and not the party and several more.

All of these were sponsored by several groups to gear the Nigerian youth to vote and not just vote but vote rightly. What represents voting rightly remains subjective. All said and done, I continue to struggle with the rationale behind the campaign - Vote for the Man and the Party.

Lots of people said they didn’t vote for PDP, the Peoples Democratic Party but voted for the man, Goodluck Jonathan. More so, they said they voted for Babatunde Raji Fashola (BRF as he is fondly called) as governor of Lagos state, Nigeria’s commercial capital but not necessarily the party ACN, Action Congress of Nigeria because they are disgruntled by BRFs open declaration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu (former governor of Lagos state) as his political godfather.

As for me, I struggle with concept of voting for the man and not the party because my belief is that when you vote an individual into power, you vote the mandate of his party. I also believe that as humans we belong to social organisations or associate with them because we believe in the values they uphold. So, if I do not believe in the values of PDP how can I then run for elections under the PDP umbrella? To the electorate, if I do not believe in the values of PDP how can I then associate with its candidate?

I shared this concern with my sister who voted for the “men” and not their parties and she argues that Nigeria’s democracy cannot be compared with more advanced democracies as obtained in the US whereby families, lineages and even regions are readily known to be die-hard Republicans or Democrats from generation to generation, with generations living and swearing by their political parties. According to her, “In those societies, the political parties have values and the people understand them but here in Nigeria?”

That got me worried but after pondering upon her words; I came to the submission that she was right. I do not know what PDP really represents. All we associate the PDP with are the zoning of government positions and stunted economic growth. What does the ACN mean to the average man? To most, ACN represents action governors who are seemingly working to develop and transform their states. I decided to pay quick visits to their websites and discovered that the PDP has a more structured website and a well thought out mission statements (see PDP mission statement. However, the opposite was the case for the ACN. There was little or no information on what ACN represents. Maybe my sister is right after all, and it is sad because like a blind sheep, Nigerians have voted continually.