Another opportunity for Nigerians to determine the individuals that would be representing us at the state and federal levels of government is around the corner: 2015 is another election year. General elections will be conducted to determine who will be our President & Commander-in-Chief (the Vice President is part of the “package” :-)), state governors (for most of the states), and legislative representatives (i.e. members of the Senate and the national and state houses of assembly).
The months preceding the elections have historically been fraught with expectation and uncertainty, with last-minute announcements and pronouncements, and a seemingly fire-brigade approach to an extremely important and sensitive series of events in our national polity. Hence, my pleasant surprise when I saw the timetable for the 2015 General Elections published in the papers late last month by our national electoral body — about 12 months ahead of the proposed election dates, and 8 months ahead of the first event in the schedule of activities! A lot of detail has also been provided on the relevant provisions of the 2010 electoral act and its subsequent amendment.
The relevant dates for most of us are:
13 January 2015: Publication of Official Register of Voters for the elections
13 January 2015: Publication of list of nominated candidates (federal level)
27 January 2015: Publication of list of nominated candidates (state level)
14 February 2015: Presidential and National Assembly Elections
28 February 2015: Gubernatorial and State Assembly Elections
I consider this a significant positive development: it appears that the required forethought and planning required for these significant events have been given the relevant priority. As with all plans, there may be revisions as realities become more accurately predictable, but it’s better to have this scenario than to be walking blind without a plan or direction.
Since we have been given the blueprint for this decision-making process(es), we the governed have no excuses! It is now up to us to:
- save these key dates in our respective calendars,
- educate ourselves on the various aspects of the process,
- educate those around us on the same,
- prepare to actively participate,
- objectively scrutinise the various candidates: ask bold questions and hold them accountable to provide quality answers, and
- encourage others to do all of the above.
Some of us “regular folk” might even be bitten by the social service bug (not the I-want-to-become-a-billionaire-in-twelve-months-at-the-expense-of-the-people bug o), or may know a person or two who have been bitten. As long as you have the requisite skills: godliness, street smarts, tenacity, vision and strong sense of purpose, and all those other nice positive attributes, by all means go for it! However, if you no get liver (are not emotionally strong and psychologically sound), it may be advisable to wait a couple of turns as leadership and governance is no walk in the park.
So, how are you going to take advantage of all this information :-)? Will you digest the electoral act? Will you become a card-carrying member of a political party? Will you be campaigning on behalf of one or some of the aspirants? Whatever you do, ensure you do not give up your right to make your vote count!