Vote with sense, vote without violence

The past few weeks have been especially rough and tough for the vast majority of Nigerians. This is as a result of what appears like unimaginable treachery and cold-blooded backstabbing meted out to Nigerians by the same government they overwhelmingly voted for both in 2015 and 2019.

Like a person losing his mind, it appears the government has traded off its soul in the last part of its life and it is embarking on inexplicable punitive expeditions against the masses. The naira redesign policy and the tectonic shifts it has brought to national stability is a case in point.

No one imagined that there would be a time when there would be an intra-currency exchange rate as we are currently experiencing in Nigeria. It is a situation in which to ‘buy’ #20,000.00, you pay #25,000.00 or more. Also, few people foresaw the level of desperation being witnessed as citizens struggle and get disappointed at the same time to collect their own money.

With men and women stripping themselves in banking halls and frustrated citizens running amok on the streets and burning banks, the unfolding tragic drama and the chilling socio-economic gymnastics are the least the country needs in an electoral season. Yet, Nigerians must resist the temptation to engage in counter-productive protests that are typically hijacked by hoodlums and anarchists. This is not the time to be irrational as tough times don’t last but tough people do. 

Already, speculations are rife that some fifth columnists are bent on pushing Nigerians to the breaking point. This will make people over-react and ultimately provide justification for the postponement or cancellation of the much-anticipated February 25, 2023 elections. Some people even have good reasons to believe that the work of eight years is being dismantled by some cabal somewhere in order to stop the political ambition of a single man.

Meanwhile, no matter how dire the situation may be in these heady days, it will be utterly nonsensical to engage in over-reaction or violence. That is where those who are engaging in disruption and destruction have to borrow sense. There have been pockets of violence in some states but all hands must be on deck to stop the perpetrators. Nigerians definitely have a lot to lose if they allow criminals to hijack public discontent and unleash violence that ultimately will truncate the electoral process.

It is the season of critical reflection and crucial decision. The choices we shall make this weekend will have implications for our present and future. Leadership is not just influence as John Maxwell famously noted but also everything. So, Nigerians should vote for the candidates with the right skills-set to bail them out of the compound doldrums they are stuck in.

Voting with sense requires prioritising competence, character, courage and pedigree in the choice of the right leaders for the country. Incidentally, the leading candidates in the elections are not new to public life and they can be judged on the given parameters to determine the most suitable, even if all of them are eminently qualified. Sense should guide the choice of candidates to be voted for, not sentiments. 

It is equally natural that in any competition, some will lose while some will win. Only one person can be the president of Nigeria at a time. All candidates should therefore prevail on their followers that voting and violence are not synonymous. Therefore, no one should resort to self-help in case he does not win the election and no group should threaten the rest of the country. 

The noisy partisans and Nigerians at large should also realise that violence begets violence. The victims of violence won’t be the candidates Nigerians are shouting their names or their families. The victims will be the children of the same masses who have always been subjected to the indiscretions of the successive men of power.

In essence, what is core and central is that we should be sensible and not to play into the hands of those who are conflict entrepreneurs. Nigerians should endure the current hardship and cash crunch. They should vote with their sense and conscience the best candidates that will promote peace, unity, justice, development and security. They should put the round pegs in round holes. 

After playing their own part on the election day, they should put the rest in the hands of God and trust the capacity of the electoral umpire. Under no circumstances should people resort to violence because of the failed ambition of some political actors. Since there are mechanisms in place for redressing real and perceived injustices, Nigerians should be confident that a house built with spittle will collapse just when it breezes.

So, just vote, don’t fight!