The Platform for Liberty and Democracy (PLIDE) has urged the Nigerian electorate, especially the youths, to be politically enlightened and shun all forms of temporary gratifications at the expense of viable, long-term developmental goals that must be reflected in party manifestos and ideologies of candidates.
The group also identified the peculiarities in the Nigerian polity at a meeting held recently in Ikeja, Lagos. Saying there was a clear-cut difference between being an educated person and being politically literate; it explained the two terms were used interchangeably but are as different as day is to darkness.
The peculiarities were noted to be some of the obstacles militating against the growth of democracy and making its hard for the citizens to realise the sheer strength of their voting powers in deciding who to represent them in the various political positions.
It was noted if these hitches were not confronted headlong with effective solutions, the nation would remain fettered for want of good representatives in government and thus, continue to writhe and be deprived of benefiting true democratic dividends.
Foremost among the peculiarities is the rampant poverty which the ruling elite have weaponised in order to keep the masses in perpetual captivity and are deprived of the basic necessities of life. As a result, instead of finding answers to the pervasive poverty, politicians have resorted to exploiting the situation for selfish interested by offering cash for votes. However, after the electorate have been baited with meagre sum, they are then subjected to total neglect by the politicians.
“It is baffling on how the electorate forget about good manifestos, effective and workable plans of candidates after collecting money from visionless candidates on the eve of election in Nigeria,” says Tope Adebayo.
“This is due to stark electoral illiteracy which is different from being a university graduate …vote buying through cash and the offering of gift items known as stomach infrastructure have become norms which have been successfully used in some South-western states as evidenced by recent gubernatorial elections.”
The erstwhile gubernatorial candidate in Ekiti State spoke further, saying “spreading money within few days of elections sways votes. The god that our people serve is money. Why is it so? Lack of political awareness. I sincerely urged people not to sell their votes that would put a bad politician in office for as long as four years for a meagre five thousand naira or for whatever amount… stomach infrastructure has thrived because the electorate are ignorant of the weight of their voting mandate.”
The group therefore called on relevant government agencies responsible for public enlightenment such as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to give political education to the masses so they are aware of what to expect from political aspirants.
“Government must educate the voters on what to expect of politicians during campaigns, on why they don’t need to collect money or opt for stomach infrastructure instead of planning ahead for the future.” Ope Allen added.
Other features of the Nigerian political landscape as observed by PLIDE include: massive cost of publicity during elections which gives the moneybags a matchless advantage; political apathy by the people a progressive would want to save; and a dangerous mindset on the invincibility of the two existing political parties, a mindset that requires urgent redress.
Also weighing in, the protem chairman of PLIDE, Mr. Tunde Feyi Owoseni, noted that “before anyone would seek to liberate the people, he should have first liberated himself and his family members while adding that, PLIDE is a pro-democracy and human rights movement dedicated to good governance, transparency and accountability, social justice, equitable distribution of national wealth and resources, respect for basic and fundamental human rights, true fiscal and structural federalism, opening up of the political space to involve youths, the disabled, trade unions, the female gender, etc.
PLIDE resolved to actively engage the electorate in the run-up to the 2019 elections, on the important matter of adequately and dispassionately interrogating the programs and manifestos of candidates for political offices as well as the political platforms (parties) sponsoring them.
PLIDE reiterates it’s determination to build a veritable ideological platform which will give voice and purpose to the aspirations of Nigerians who desire a country where Social Justice and Egalitarianism are core foundational principles in the quest to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.