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By Dul Johnson

My idea of every Nigerian is every Nigerian of voting age, but it does not matter whether you have a voters’ card or not. You can still play a vital role if you do not have a voter’s card, or if you have but are not able to be at the voting center assigned to you. The 2023 elections are too crucial and critical for them to be taken for granted even for a moment.


I am addressing you now because many of us ordinary Nigerians always think that we do not matter in any political calculations. That is our biggest mistake, and that is also the reason why we have been neglected, misruled and cheated all the time. To the best of my knowledge ¾ except perhaps during the colonial era ¾ no political leadership has ever considered the masses as important; not even the Nigerian Labour Congress. We are only useful when it is time to cast votes! In the past, this situation was made worse by all sorts of electoral irregularities ranging from ballot snatching, ballot stuffing to buying of electoral officers. Hopefully, this time around, the situation will be different with the use of electronic voting system. But we ourselves have not recognized the immense power we possess, and that should not happen this time around.

We have seen the impact of the power of the masses in African countries that are smaller than Nigeria. We can draw examples from Algeria, Burkina Fasso, Egypt, Mali, and of recent Kenya, but not in Nigeria. Rather, I have heard it said that in other places, when the people are pushed to the wall, they turn around and fight back while in Nigeria, the people would push the wall down and move on. I am a lover of peace and peaceful change, not an advocate of violence. Now, when the love of peace or inaction turns into docility, the result is what we are suffering in Nigeria today.


The time has come to wake up and erase all that image of weakness that we cast upon ourselves. That is why I am making the call now. It is a call for a silent, peaceful, but powerful and effective revolution. It is the revolution through the voter’s card, and one that I know you are fully ready for and capable of. We can say, with Chinua Achebe’s character, that the previous political classes have stolen too much from us blind men and women for us not to notice. Perhaps that is the reason we should watch out for their remnants that have come to woo us down destruction lane. We must unanimously say: NEVER AGAIN! 2023 is our opportunity to make this a reality. We must also guide against the use of religion and ethnicity to blindfold us. We now know the consequences of such actions, and we also know that this is our only opportunity; our last chance.


So, what should we do? Our task isn’t that difficult. We form the largest segment of the country’s population. We, the parents, also have under our care, conservatively, 75-80% of the youth, who have been bearing the brunt of the country’s political misadventures. More than us, these young people are ready to make the change happen. In our position as elders, as mothers and fathers, and as guides to the youth, we must play our role, especially in making sure the spirit of apathy or rebellion against voting that has been growing amongst Nigerians does not prevail. Your job, therefore, is to talk to everyone around you about the candidate you know and believe the majority of Nigerians have identified and wish to put in the saddle. I am not against any party, nor am I against party politics. After all every candidate belongs to one political party or another. What I am suggesting is that you must not be enslaved to a party even when you know that it has backed the wrong horse, simply because you have always been a member of the party. In a situation like the one we are in, where the country is at the brink of collapse, you cannot say, “to hell with the country”. You must talk right and vote right. You must use both your mouth and your voter’s card.


If you are eligible and already registered but you do not have the voter’s card for whatever reason, make sure you get it before we enter 2023; you have only 3 to 4 months to do that. INEC has been helpful in registering new voters, replacing lost or damaged cards and changing voting locations to make things easy and convenient for all of us. Under no circumstances should you remain without the voter’s card. The battle ahead of us demands a commitment from every one of us. If you are already kitted with a card, make sure you network and work for someone that the majority of Nigerians believe in. This is the time to THINK NIGERIA! We have never had a more auspicious time than this. It is also time to THINK STATE, and THINK LGA. The mess is everywhere as you know, and a total change is just what we need. Yet, the change at the top, as you know, is like a choice between life and death, therefore, our attention is needed more at that level. Therefore, DO NOT think party. At least, for the 2023 General Elections. The health and security of our country must be top on every Nigerian’s agenda.


Do not think about your stomach for today (a’ la stomach infrastructure) and imperil the rest of your life and the lives of your family. That is what happens when you allow your vote to be bought for a paltry sum that can only buy akara or agidi. Yes, it is your money they are using to buy your vote and cheapen your conscience, so, collect it, but DO NOT give them your vote. Even if they give you a million dollars, it is your money! So, if you want, collect it, but don’t sell your conscience by giving them your vote and losing your respect to them. Anyone that genuinely wishes to help you would have done so long before the elections. It is also your responsibility to preach this same message to family, friends, and those around you. Let your mind be focused on reviving this great country. Do not go with the skeptics and cynics who have lost hope in our country. They are just a handful; they do not make up Nigeria. Their pessimism is well founded and we should understand that, so that rather than condemn, we should help them get out of it.


I do understand the fact that you may have particular aspirants that you are working for, who may not be the choice of the people and this puts you in a difficult position. Our nation asks for your understanding, just this once. If your candidate is not the anointed one, remember that politics is a game. Remember also that time moves very fast in politics and tomorrow could be their turn. All that we need now is to put the country back on the road to progress for you and the generations to come. Your role in this is critical and an important appointment with history. Don’t give yourself any reason to bite your fingers after 2023.


In the past, the crude nature of the voting arrangements where voters were made to queue up, endlessly waiting to cast their votes was very discouraging, with the result that many abandoned the queues and the voting itself. This was sometimes made worse by persons, sometimes compromised officials,  who, for the perquisites to grease their greed, deliberately frustrated voting in such centers. The analogue voting system of the previous elections, even when voters dared the difficulties and succeeded in voting, some results had ended up being canceled for no just reasons! Fortunately, with the electronic voting this time around, most of these challenges should not arise. Whatever the challenges may be, dear compatriots, your votes are your power. Therefore, persevere and cast your votes. And, remember this: Nothing good comes easy, and nothing ventured, nothing gained.


There is a lot of noise in, and outside the social media about the 2023 elections, which is meant to create doubts in our minds. This is mainly the work of the few skeptics and pessimists, especially supporters of those who insist on enslaving us ordinary Nigerians. They scare us by saying that the elections may not hold, or if they hold, the winner, depending on who emerges, may be denied their victory as was the case with M.K.O. Abiola in 1993. These are the figments of the imagination of the few, who have not realised that, in terms of mindset, in terms of political awareness and national consciousness, Nigeria has developed far beyond the 1980s and 90s, when we were under military dictatorship. We must discountenance such views and focus on our goal. Nigeria’s democracy has taken root even if we have always ended up with rulers instead of leaders; rulers who were not politically prepared for the task; rulers who had no idea why they wanted the exalted office.


We may have made mistakes in the past, but our awareness level is no longer of the 80s nor is it under any military manipulation. We have learnt our lessons and are now focused on one goal, one mission. No one in a race would win if they keep looking backwards. Let us all focus on our 2023 goal and the gold medal of freedom from insecurity, corruption and underdevelopment is ours.



  • Prof Johnson is of the Department of English and Literary Studies, Bingham University, Karu



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