Rather than allow a poor voter be bought over with a meager sum of money, “Adopt the voter” make him or her a project for the exercise of your social responsibility. offer him/her regular awareness education and when necessary during election provide him/her financial incentive over and above what any politician can offer him/her, but do not tell him/her who to vote for, rather encourage him/her to vote according to his/her conscience- this is undoubtedly more potent.
It is extremely difficult for any politician to match the amount of money that can be mobilized by a large number of non-partisan patriotic professionals, working class business men and women.
Imagine where about 10 million of the above mentioned class of people would each decide to adopt a minimum of five (5) voters; this will lead to the sensitization and exposure of 50 million Nigerians and above.
“Adoption of a voter” means interacting with the voter from time to time and educating him or her on the need to vote for the right candidates that can deliver the dividends of democracy to the greater majority of the people.
Therefore as elites in a society where politics is shrouded in selfish secrecy, it is our social responsibility to disseminate honest applicable knowledge aimed at sensitizing the masses and creating a sense of belonging to the people in the society. In achieving these, we may consider taking the following practical steps:
Choose your indigenous community or your place of residence; Adopt a sizable number of persons; may be five or more. These people should be within the youthful age bracket or seemingly not the too advanced in age;
Once in a while invite them to your residence;
Offer them drinks and food, identify with them;
Pass on your messages as the entertainment is going on;
Let them understand that voting right ensures that the best policies are implemented and the best candidates are elected;
Elucidate the fact that if you sell your conscience for crumbs, any person that pays for your vote does not possess enough moral capital to work for the common good of the society;
Show them that desperate people in search for political positions will resort to doing anything including violence to fraudulently serve the people;
Engage them on their views about the politics of the day as it affects them and their views if any on a possible reform. Do this to ascertain their level of information on the current political happenings;
Educate them on the need to know their rights and the values of their adult suffrage. Enlighten them on the need to be citizens who ask question especially on their various government representatives on how the government and socio-political issues affecting them are run on daily basis;
Point out to them the political power they carry both as individuals and collectively as people to change the course of governance for the better as it affect their beliefs;
Arouse their interest in the belief that a vote based on a good conscience, free from political gymerics is the antidote to creating a society where justice and integrity is respected;
Make them see that they are ambassadors for good governance in their own sphere. Teach them to speak up and act right;
Let them know that good conscience cannot be bought over by money from any politician whose interest is self-motivated;
Engage them to understand that anyone who sponsors violence by arming the youths or otherwise in other to ascend political height does not intend the good of the people and it is a manifest that they are being used based on their ignorance;
Buttress to them that our nation is not for the privileged few, indeed our politics is a fluid concept which is influenced by the collective goodwill and practical actions of the masses;
Make them understand that true empowerment from any Politician is not in financial inducement, unrealistic empowerment or instant gratifications, but in their right to be well informed of their values and essence in the daily affairs of their governance.
Some people may argue that some die hard voters may collect money from someone and still go and collect from a politician. Yes this is a possibility, but we should not be discouraged by the antics of a few people. There are still more good people than bad people in every society what some politicians are leveraging on is just the ignorance and poverty of the masses.
As the real third force, I am proposing a league of all professional Associations in the country i.e NBA, NMA, NUJ, ICAN and all other professional Associations
These professional Associations have an even spread of their members almost in every political ward. Every individual member of these professional Associations has his/her own circle of influence.
With the influence of social media and the fact that communication tools are now available to all and sundry, we can all make a difference.
Let us all stop complaining and start doing something no matter how little. Remember that every voter is just a phone call away.
Adopt a voter today and let the real change truly begin with you.
Chijioke H Orji is an Abuja based solicitor and Notary public.
He is also the chairman of Lawquest Foundation.
Lawquest Foundation promotes basic legal and civic education, access to justice and general public awareness.