I haven’t always cared about politics. As a child, I wouldn’t even listen to the news or anything related to politics, much to my father’s frustration. Then I grew older and more aware of my environment. Seeing the conditions around me opened my eyes to how deeply politics affected my life. Things as simple as poor infrastructure began to get to me, literally.
The turning point came when the Chibok girls were kidnapped. I could not believe I lived in a country where a whole region was practically at war and the lives of innocent girls were compromised. As a matter of fact, I so badly wanted to see a difference. I wanted to be involved in a way that created a safer space for fellow citizens. This was when it started to hit me that it made no sense to keep myself out of the political scene in my country, Nigeria. Because, whether I think or feel like it or not, I am a political being. Politics affects my everyday life. And my decision to act or not act also has far-reaching consequences. Politics also affects people around me, people I love.
The same is true for all of us. We are political beings. We have a powerful ability to determine how politics plays out around us. After all, we are in a democracy! Exercising your political will can determine everything about your life, from the security of life and property and access to medical care to quality education and how much food you can buy in the market.
Now that you know that it’s in your best interest to be politically active, here are a few pointers to help you get started.
Register to vote
If you haven’t registered to vote yet, it is vital that you do so as soon as possible. You can go online or to your local government office to find out how to become a registered voter. The previous deadline of August 17 has been extended by two more weeks. With the upcoming 2019 elections, getting your PVC is very important if you want to have a say in who becomes your next leader.
Get your hands ‘dirty’
Participating in politics goes beyond election seasons and requires greater involvement in the political process. This includes the possibility of starting or joining a political party that aligns with your values. You could also start or join a civil action group, and sign petitions to lobby for better laws. You can volunteer or donate towards the campaign of any candidate(s) you believe in as well. And while you do these, be sure to ignore the mess and noise, and choose to focus on substance and impact.
Hold leaders accountable
You need to participate in the never-ending work of holding our political leaders accountable, instead of just voting them in once every four years and dusting your hands off. In this social media age, you can engage directly with them via social media apps. You can also keep track of their progress with keeping their campaign promises and speak out against oppressive laws and corrupt practices with every resource at your disposal.
This is for all of us. We need to register to vote, sign petitions, and speak up about issues affecting our nation. We need to be politically active to have any chance at the country of our dreams. The next best time is NOW! Every voice and every vote counts.