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If I were to vote… - Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa

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Being admittedly apathetic when it comes to voting, I can’t recall the last and only occasion I voted in Nigeria, or even who I voted for, for that matter. Also, having never happened to be in Nigeria during any election for over a decade, I have not been in a position to vote in the first place. However, I have always hoped for the victory of the relatively good candidates regardless of their partisan affiliations.

Apparently, my apathy towards voting is informed by an underlying assumption that there is never any significant difference between most of the candidates vying for various political offices, in terms of vision, competence and willingness to deliver. After all, after two decades of alternation in power among them, only a few of them have actually proved quite different in terms of real achievements.

 

This apathy is also apparently because of being under no particular pressure to vote, unlike the case with tension-ridden ethnically and religiously heterogeneous societies in Nigeria where ethno-religious communities are enmeshed in a perpetual power struggle to outmaneuver each other through manipulation of census figures and election results under a real or perceived threat of domination and persecution at the hands of each other. Communities in Tafawa Balewa-Bogoro-Dass constituency in Bauchi state, for instance, and other communities in some constituencies in, say, Taraba, Plateau and Kaduna states can relate to that.

So, coming from an ethnically and religiously homogeneous society (Kano) where such tension and pressure never exist, and in view of the fact that the politicians are basically of the same calibre when it comes to leadership qualities and potential to deliver, I developed an apathy towards voting not minding who wins or who loses in elections.

 

Interestingly, though apathy to voting isn’t always wise especially when it’s likely to amount to voter apathy that may give a victory on a silver platter to the worse among the typically poor candidates, yet, the assumption that one forfeits his right to hold leaders to account or criticize them simply because he doesn’t vote is never justified either. After all, even in developed democracies, voter turnout always fluctuates according to the prevailing mood in the society at any given election, and a sizeable percentage of people eligible to vote never or, at least, hardly vote.

Anyway, if I were to vote in the forthcoming Nigerian elections, I would only vote in the presidential election, and of course my vote would be for President Buhari while hoping for the victory of the relatively good among the contenders contending for other political offices. However, unlike a typical diehard Buhari loyalist, my choice of Buhari is basically informed by the dilemma of having no better alternative despite his failure to live up to expectations, as it’s obvious that his main contender, Atiku Abubakar isn’t likely to maintain the modest headway made by President Buhari, let alone build on it. With Atiku Abubakar eyeing the presidency, the country faces the risk of being dragged back into the era of systematic and indeed practically unhindered plunder of public resources, which is being gradually eliminated with noticeable success under Buhari administration. I elaborated my arguments in this regard in “A look into Nigerians’ assessments of Buhari administration” (Daily Trust, Friday, December 14, 2018).

Also, with reference to this particular point, I add that, it’s a pity that the issue of President Buhari’s performance, and whether he should or shouldn’t be reelected has escalated to a raging point turning neighborhood majalisu, joints and, of course, social media platforms into places of extremely heated arguments and insult-trading resulting in the loss of many real-life and online friendships among many people.

This happens while the players in the power play, their respective family members, relatives and close friends never allow their political differences to affect the intactness of the underlying friendships and strategic interests that bind them together. Being the actual stakeholders in the power play who in any case end up disproportionately benefitting whether in power or in opposition, at the expense of their respective followers, they only feign uncompromising seriousness against their fellow elite political opponents, as the rules of the game require.

While they share neighborhoods peacefully in the most exclusive areas in Abuja, Lagos and the states’ capitals, their respective followers are out there arguing fiercely over them in the roadside majalisu of their mosquito-infested slums and/or all over social media platforms. Also, while their respective political heroes and their respective families and friends always run into one another in local and international airports amid laughter and banter, or in the streets of London, Dubai, New York and other cities around the world, many of their respective diehard followers engaged in political thuggery can’t take a stroll into some alleyways of their own slum neighborhoods considered the strongholds of other thugs loyal to opposition politicians, for fear of an attack.

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