Voting rights and electoral privileges

’Your vote na your power, no trowey am o’ Person wey e blind no de see road O’ – (Your vote is your power, do not throw it away, the blind see no road)

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Excerpts from the Book; The Making of the African god, An Idiot’s guide to Africa’s revolution

’Your vote na your power, no trowey am o’ Person wey e blind no de see road O’ – (Your vote is your power, do not throw it away, the blind see no road)
Popular radio jingles of the early eighties preaching civility and some sense of patriotism in the wake of the second republic.
So many cartons of frozen fish have been passing around the neighbourhood distributed by mercenaries of one Chief. This Chief I learnt was going to contest for a prominent seat in the state government, he did not say he could make life better for his own people but MUST make things work for the entire populace not faulting any form of limitations like all humans do. So we doubted him because we naturally believed that it doesn’t take the town crier to carry out the king’s order but ‘effort’, Painstaking communal efforts to make our community a conducive place to live in.

Such painstaking efforts no one in my entire community knows of this Chief apart from he drives big cars and owns this and that properties, go to church on Christmas day and give gifts to the church, in order to prove his competency and magnanimity he had to convince us a little further and he did knows how vulnerable poverty could hold its victims captive.

In those days frozen mackerel fish was a luxury, a whole family could barely afford one good size. We got one whole carton and it was shared by few hoping to have better foods or even eat more than this if Chief eventually won the election, he’d portrayed how much he loved his own people by this unsolicited magnanimity.

Like the proverbial biblical Esau, as far as there is enough food to quench our unending appetite, some perks to portray Chief’s kindness and service to the people even though restricted only to his favourites who brings the messages home as rubbed into their sticky greedy fingers-this Chief should rule us!

This has been our situation as people who could barely differentiate between a right and a privilege, from one toggle of leadership to the other, regime after regimes, generation after generation we remain the same retarded society of peoples because like ‘Esau begged, what use is the rights if he die of hunger’ therefore what to eat, what to put on and what to flaunt for the petty perks both nature and greed has awarded us rule our desires and control our wills.

-indeed, our imagination is right because your right is meaningless unless it is backed by law and laws that are run by the likes of this Chief mentioned above could summarily reduce your right to a privilege. Anyway, this Chief won at the end of the election with only a handful of voters voting him in, I learnt the cartons of fishes could not go round although it did get to the right target, and that was all my people heard of Chief until the four-year tenure was over, the roads, amenities and entire communities remained in the same deplorable conditions while Chief bought more cars and took more Chieftaincy titles from nearby communities.

(ii) The right to vote and the privilege of electing a candidate
The right to vote could be viewed by some as a mere civic right dependent on law But from other commentators on public opinion, it is a fundamental political right,   as it produces the most direct verdict by the citizens on the performance of those who govern them, as a political right, it guarantees all eligible persons of voting age the equal power to vote and be voted for irrespective of background or societal affiliations while Oxford Advanced Learner’s dictionary described ‘Privilege’ as ‘a special right or advantage available only to particular person, class or rank or the holder to a certain position.” 
By a ‘particular person’ it means ‘few’ selected individuals, or a group of persons belonging to a particular ideology not bounded by any common written agreement or law but sheer favour and familiarity! In order words, if you did not measure into this classification, you are out of the count and ineligible to participate in any affairs that concerns that group unless given the special recognition.

(iii) The difference between rights and privileges
If you belong to any institution or organization by means of a privilege, you are at the mercy of the leadership of such group that gives you that opportunity, and such grace could be stripped off you at any point in time because it was a special grant in the first place.

Those who didn’t get a carton of frozen mackerel fish from the erstwhile contesting Chief did not fall under his list of privileged few so the opportunity to own a whole carton of frozen fish as at that austere time was denied them – then because those that got some extra frozen fishes considered themselves privileged, when Chief won the election and could not live up to ANY of his thousands of promises, Nobody could muster the courage to ask him why on earth is the road leading to our community still untarred after 3 years of resumption of office as an elected government official, there is no single sign of any structural development!

Simply put, we have no rights as members of the community which our dear Chief rules but merely privileged to be under his leadership, meaning; we have been bought over with those cartons of frozen fishes!

For every legal institution or organization, you belong to you don’t need any special recognition or grace to exercise your right of membership and to challenge any form of infringement or lawlessness.

 Without digressing, the court of law will testify that “No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a choice in the election of those who direct the affairs of the state, under which, as a good citizen, they must live, other rights even the most basic are illusory if the right to vote is undermined, this is the difference between exercising your right and using an advantage.

(iv) Voting Rights and Electoral Privileges
As members of a larger community, each of us is responsible for the growth or downfall of his country either by contributive efforts or sheer individual negligence as we are all bounded by that singular law book called the Constitution to defend and protect our national interest but a privileged member of an organization can shrink from his responsibility if he finds it inconveniencing likewise the giver of the ‘special grant or advantages’ available only to particular few individuals’ might decide to withdraw his deceptive and false gestures of kindness and promises whenever he deems fit, but when we are all bounded by one common principle of agreement there will be a limit to every lawlessness and brazen idiotic abuse of offices.

By casting a vote in favour of anybody, you have automatically assume the position of a decision maker for your community, and the type of person you have voted for means that is the kind of person you preferred should take the position of leadership, the choice is voluntarily yours! That is what your rights entail without any form of infringement or coercion. The problem is applying your rights to proper use without any admiration of persons over an advantage.

Many of the African political elites sure knows how vulnerable poverty has incapacitated his people; he knows when to use them and how to dump them
, during the Late Abacha of Nigeria era, they gave a lot of gifts to influence his continuous stay in power, there was supposed to be an evangelical group preaching the Abacha agenda that will later reward every member the sum of N10,000 Naira for every new proselyte dragged into the group, I backed out on impulse when the fellowship as we ‘nicknamed’ it in UNN was at its inception. A great number of young people were mobilized as support group for the 2-million-man march, after the rally in Abuja, so many were stranded and could rarely afford the trip back to Nsukka, they have been used and dumped as soon as possible, just like that!

Young Africans, especially young Nigerians who are most times a direct victim of this abuse of rights and privileges should get one idea right,

“Anybody who gives you a gift either in cash or material to obtain your consent or to curry favour has bribed you into accepting him into a position you will literally not allow him either by vote or any other means”.
The money and gifts the politician give you while aspiring to take control of a particular elective office is what he has used to literally bought you over as a slave like my erstwhile Chief and the frozen cartons of fishes did. This is business; he must recoup his investments first before he thinks of any tangible contribution to the development of the society or the progress of the people that elected him into office, that is, if greed will let him consider that.

Get wise young people! If you must take any form of gifts, cash, kind or materials, don’t sell your mind, you’ll be selling yourself cheap to the modern slave master. The billions of money said to have been earmarked for campaign purposes alone is enough to initiate one decent development in the state but for each N1000 Naira given out as gift to would be voters has denied the community one decent project, it could be electricity supply, road rehabilitation, health or education.

As a matter of sincere opinion, I would suggest that you collect the gifts and still vote against the giver. Anybody who comes with gifts to induce your consent even to exercise the only rights you have does not mean well for you and the community. He is directly giving you the impression that you have no rights but a mere privilege to vote.
According to one Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti State, Nigeria “We have allowed our politics to be so debased by money and violence that of course nothing but misery can come of it,” It is the politics of the belly, and it has been very destructive.”
The average voter needs to get the fact clear that voting for one old politician because he has cash to spray around will keep your community and the entire society getting the same old results and this could be the worst decision anyone who loves his country could make.

Your vote is your power, don’t waste it, the blind man sees no road!

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