Opinion: Election 2019: Can ELECTORATES break the jinx? – By Yusuf Hassan
The 2019 general elections are fast approaching. The electoral process is one of the bulwarks of democracy with voters as major stakeholders in the process. This is because, if the people lose confidence in the process, democracy as a system of populace participation in government will become a sham.
Around the world, the tenets and principles of democracy is gradually gaining acceptability. Millions of people have braved violence, intimidation, and other obstacles to demand the right to express their will through the ballot box.
If we understand the extent of the power we wield during elections, not only will we jealously guard our votes, but we will also always make them count .
ROLE OF CITIZENS IN THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
The sovereign power belongs to us, the people. You and I are to exercise this sovereignty either directly or indirectly through democratically elected representatives. Sovereignty means the exercise of power by the people and for the people.
It is through elections that we, citizens, choose the kind of government and leaders we want. Elections offer citizens the opportunity to exercise their political right that is guaranteed in the Constitution. It is an opportunity for the people to choose good leaders so as to ensure that they do not suffer the consequences of bad leadership.
To be able to effectively exercise our sovereign role, it is important for us to appreciate our political rights and responsibilities in the electoral process. As citizens we are required to understand the political rights and obligations provided in the Constitution and actively participate in various electoral activities such as registering as voters.
Most importantly, we should maintain law and order during elections. Law and order leads to free and fair elections, voter confidence and satisfaction, peaceful coexistence, confidence in the electorate, harmony and mutuality.
Our role as voters during elections is to maintain peace, report offenders to relevant authorities, avoid hate speech and inflammatory language and accept the official results.
Let us refuse to be used by politicians to fight each other. Nigeria is bigger than politicians and Nigeria is certainly bigger than any one tribe. We need to be more nationalistic in our thinking if we want to move forward as a country. Let us all register as voters and exercise this important right in a positive manner.
HOW TO EXERCISE CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY
The society can be involved in many spheres. From my personal view everything needs to be improved. Some people are eager to change something and what’s more important they really do that. How do we impact on the election we participates on? Citizen’s participation has
always vital impact on the development of the country as economically as socially. We vote for the President, for the government but what happens if we don’t go to the elections? It may sound weird, but we vote for the party and the candidate we don’t like by deciding not to go to the elections, which means that the society thinks if they do not go for voting the party, which they do not support, will lose the elections and this is completely wrong attitude. So we should think about why don’t we use our right to vote?
Your civic responsibility requires far more than simply pulling a lever, or stamping a ballot. Your responsibility requires community engagement –understanding the issues facing your community, getting to know the folks who represent your community and holding them accountable for doing their job which is to serve the people. Too often we forget that they work for us. We must exercise our franchise and take advantage of the right that so many before us died for to make sure we could be included in this process called DEMOCRACY.
We must do the right thing and take the time to vote. And, after we vote, we must then engage in the hard work of not just pontificating about what we don’t like, but work to be the change we want to see. Vote, yes, but let’s also use our voices to let our elected officials know that we are counting on them to “serve the people.” And the people are US!
HOW TO HOLD OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE.
In a democracy, elected officials are accountable
to the public they govern. Exactly how that accountability works is complicated, with checks and balances, partisanship, the media, and good old-fashioned bureaucracy all playing roles.
Accountability is one of the key best practices in people oriented governance; and since most government activities ally around service delivery, it is reasonable to consider the process in governance a threat to development, when it cannot be properly meet with the needs of the governed. When public resources fail to reach the people adequately, or hose entrusted with the management are reluctant in sporting such activities, it naturally severs the relationship between them.
But accountability in Nigeria itself is a tricky thing. People react to being held accountable in different ways in different situations. One would think that having to answer to someone for your actions or your decisions would make you think more carefully about whether you’re doing the right thing. It’s not that simple because the people at the top have a lot of resources—cognitive and financial—for manipulating the views of the people at the bottom. And the people at the bottom don’t have nearly as many resources for coping with the influence tactics.
Government are only accountable, through the relevant and constitutionally approved channels, the government manage public resources on behalf of the people, as such, the government own the people a duty to explain to them how their collective wealth, is being gathered, how it planned to use them, how it eventually used such resources, her actions and decisions (whether past or future) and the results of the process on whether to rationalize them and to be faced with rejection, criticisms or disapproval in the case of eventual misconduct.
The process could range from the procurement of goods, services or works, to its review of vital legal documents or even its civil service policies. Whatever the process or activity is; an accountable government is one that always tells its people what is going on so as not to keep the people in the dark.
Administratively, the legislatives bodies like the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly are constitutionally established to ensure that both the government and the public are accountable through lawmaking and oversight among other functions by the provisions of the laws as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Voter can also hold government accountable by an increasing media and public scrutiny. There is growing demand that governments, public institutions and officials grant access to information concerning controversial actions and decisions. Through transparency organizations by regularly monitoring levels of corruption and social responsibilities efforts of both public and private actors in different parts of the country.
Continuous evaluation of effectiveness of public institutions and officials ensure that they are performing optimally, providing value for money in the provision of public services, instilling confidence in the government and being responsive to the community they are meant to be serving.
Elections are the hallmark of representative democracy, allowing the people’s regular input in choices about leaders and policy and yet they are also competitive processes, unleashing conflict and tensions that, if not constructively managed, could potentially destabilize the fabric of states and societies. It can be argued that many people today fail to appreciate or acknowledge their role in shaping the government.
But, voters play a central role and the most important role in making sure the government reflected their desires, shaping their very futures and functioned according to the guidelines of the Constitution. They can satisfy their duty as voters by observing those important responsibilities highlighted.