As Chairman and Founder of Anap Foundation (www.AnapFoundation.com) and Host of GoNigeria (www.GoNigeria.com), I have been actively engaging young Nigerians in recent months with the sole purpose of persuading as many of them as possible to register, collect their permanent voter card (CVP) and prepare to vote in the 2023 general election.
I am excited about the possibility of many more young Nigerians becoming politically active by the time of the 2023 general elections and what this portends for Nigeria.
GoNigeria is an initiative of the Anap Foundation. It began at the end of 2021 with 18 Advocates from 6 geopolitical zones. GoNigeria is a non-partisan non-profit movement dedicated to building a new voice for young people in Nigeria. He will remain true to his ideals.
Since then, an increasing number of young people have come back to tell me that they registered online with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and did their biometrics and therefore expect to get their PVC back. shortly. Others complained about barriers and frustrations surrounding biometric capture (in particular) at some INEC centers; this should be monitored and escalated if necessary.
Some other young people, however, point out that they want to move beyond PVC collection and actually get involved in party politics, but outside of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). They argue that choosing between the two major political parties is akin to choosing between “the devil and the deep blue sea” (my sincere apologies to APC/PDP members who are GoNigeria Advocates and many other good people of APC/PDP who are themselves victims of sponsorship).
Most Nigerians are deeply concerned about the state of our economy (high inflation and high unemployment) and also fear for their lives due to the deteriorating security situation. Unfortunately, the bad economy worsens the security situation and vice versa. It is also impossible to separate economics from politics. Perhaps many of us have mistakenly focused on the economy for too long?
The new electoral law has greatly improved the likelihood that INEC will be able to organize proper elections. We must congratulate President Buhari, the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and all others who have helped to achieve this. However, it’s also true to point out that they delivered very little else and so I disagree with those who expect them to do anything beyond their own departure in May 2023. The rest of us must grab the bull by the horns and overcome both voter apathy and the reluctance of many good people to get involved in party politics. No one will come from Mars or Jupiter to improve Nigerian political parties. If they remain flawed, they can constantly vomit bad choices.
I now believe that every adult Nigerian at home or abroad should join a political party. Our political parties will not improve through outside pressure alone. Change must also come from within. It’s hard to upgrade a Club or Party you don’t belong to. If I believe this, then I must also practice it.
Influenced by recent data confirming that over 40% of Nigerians disapprove of the APC and PDP, I decided to commission a low-key survey of all 16 other registered political parties with a view to joining one of them. I noted them in 7 main areas, which seemed relevant to me:
1) The Party Manifesto – how relevant is it for Nigeria at this time?
2) The quality of the national leadership of the Party.
3) My own judgment of acceptability at the local/party neighborhood level.
4) The commitment and willingness of the Party leadership to practice internal democracy.
5) Are the doors of the Party really open to young Nigerians who wish to claim their country?
6) Are the doors of the Party really open to female leaders, or is it yet another macho male enclave?
7) Is this a place where I really feel welcome?
The above 7 pointers, after careful consideration, led me to classify the 16 registered political parties apart from the APC and the PDP. Of course, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done before the political party I join can become the natural challenger to APC and PDP, but like a good party member, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work hard to help elevate this political party nationally.
Having taken this step, I will encourage other Nigerians to similarly seek membership and proactive participation in political parties where they will feel welcome and which meet certain established criteria, including priorities that I could have missed.
For Nigerians who are in favor of restructuring and/or a new Constitution, or even Separation, my plea is that you first think about voting for the office, leaders who are better able to navigate these ” waters” as well as our current “waters”, which include high unemployment, high inflation and general insecurity. The days of sitting on the fence are over. We’ve done it before and see where we are today. 2023 must be different.
*Atedo NA Peterside CON is the Chairman and Founder of the Anap Foundation and the Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC.