Saturday, October 22, 2011

Nobody changes a society by complaining...Go out and vote

The Lagos State elections into Local Government Councils were conducted today and as has been the case over time, there was general apathy on the part of the elite. The turn out at the polling station was poor and many people chose rather to sleep in the comfort of their homes (aided by the cool weather ushered by the rains) than to go to the polling station to vote.

For the records, again I chose to do otherwise.I defied the rain and was at Ward E of Jakande where I exercise my civic responsibility - to vote. Was I being rational in going out to vote in the light that the majority of Lagosians believed that their votes would not count and that the elections have been worn and lost and the rites at the polling booths are to just give some legitimacy to the schemings that had been consummated before this day? My answer is YES! The majority is just wrong, again and again, in choosing not to partake in the election process. Questions could be asked why this indifference on the part of the majority but the answer is not far fetched. Through experience and observance of the election process from 1999 till date, any rational human will likely come to the conclusion that our votes (we the electorate) do not count. So why did I, despite this apparent problem, defy the rain and voted?

Simply, it is impossible to change a process by standing aloof and being indifferent to the system. Let me say this, in case it was not obvious, to my colleagues and the bugeouise that chose not to be present at the polls today, that election has just sealed the fate of what happens to the roads and services that are the responsibility of the Local Government to provide. By definition, the word Accountability presumes that there must be a prior expectation, agreement or discussion defining the responsibilities of a particular entity or person before one could clearly come and request for a report on how such a person has fared in the discharge of such responsibilities. By not being at the poll, we lost the opportunity of understanding what each contestant has planned to deliver on. We lost the opportunity to ask questions from their agents. More importantly, we lost the opportunity to send a message that we are interested and are watching the political process. Rather, we reaffirmed the belief system of our incompetent set of leaders that they can win elections without making any commitment to the electorate but in settling a few cabals that decide who represents the party. Our staying away from the poll further assures them that their non-performance is of no concern to us. Whether we like it or not, an election took place today and certain elements have been given the constitutional rights to direct the affairs of our local government and development councils for the forseeable future. They have been given the instrument of power to use our taxes and collective resources in anyway they so choose to and our staying away from the poll does nothing to change this. So, what has our staying away from the poll achieved?

An argument that I have heard so often from my fellow citizens (I quiver in using this term for people who failed to exercise their responsibilities) is that they do not have any information to distinguish between the candidates. I am not sure how they wish to fet this information when most of them work far away from their homes where they have registered to vote. I am a witness to at least two (2) campaign rallies of the candidates. More so, the answer to their question can be gotten at the polling booth.

How do we hold our leaders accountable when we don't know them, we don't know what they have promised to do? At the next elections, let us go out and vote. Following the voting, let us make visits to the local government offices and get involved in their programs. We need to refocus our thoughts from just doing what is convenient (sleeping at home on an election day) and do what is right (participate and vote).