Ahead of general elections next year, the electorates in Nigeria have been called upon to shun corrupt leaders and avoid the errors of the past.
The Founder/Chief Executive Officer, Akin Fadeyi Foundation, Akin Fadeyi, who gave the admonition at the official media presentation of his agency’s 2023 general elections sensitization project tagged: “Put on Your Thinking Cap”, called on citizens to secure their Permanent Voters’ Cards, (PVC) and turn out en masse at the polls to effect the kind of change they truly clamour for. He said his foundation has opened conversations with YIAGA AFRICA, United Action for Democracy, HEDA Resource Center and The Cable Newspapers to build a robust coalition of CSOs to work with the Nigerian citizens to use their franchise rights wisely and elect leaders that can be held accountable for good governance.
Mr Fadeyi called on citizens to vote wisely this time and shun the vices of election violence and vote-buying which he said have left them for years at the mercy of “money bags with their future and that of their unborn children morbidly mortgaged by the pittance politicians often offer to secure their votes.”
The former ICPC Academy Provost, Sola Akinrinade, media veteran Folu Olamiti, Dapo Rotifa and the Cable Publisher and AFF Board Chairman were among the more than 80 participants that joined in the social re-engineering conversation virtually from home and abroad with more journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
Speaking from his base in Lagos, Nigeria’s prolific journalist, Jamiu Mojeed, welcomed the initiative even as he said the project may have come a little too late to change the narratives in 2023.
According to Mr Mojeed, with political parties primaries around the corner and with the way the political system is currently structured, the two dominant parties (the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will continue to hold sway with their tickets firmly tucked in the hands of money bags.
He said only a constitutional amendment that makes provision for independent candidacy can possibly turn the table.
Responding, a former spokesperson to Kogi governor, Petra- Akinti Onyegbule, said the time has come for positive-minded young and vibrant citizens to populate the two major political parties and from within the fold engineer desired change.
Another speaker, Kayode Akinropo from the United Kingdom (UK) agreed in principle with Mr Mojeed. He, however, pushed the button a notch higher when he blamed it all on Nigeria’s faulty foundation. “How did we get to this point”? He asked, calling on citizens at all levels to be prepared to ask critical questions and demand accountability.
AFF Board Chairman Simon Kolawole said it was not too late to mobilize citizens to vote out corrupt politicians and herald in a credible corp of leaders. He said the Muhammadu Buhari movement through its aggressive campaign against corruption turned the table around even when some section of Nigerians probably didn’t give Mr Buhari a chance.
“But within one year, the anti corruption mantra in his campaign became a movement hat got him to power”. He said. On money politics, Kolawole said, “What is the guarantee that if the people do not collect bribes for votes, they will be rewarded with credible leaders and how do we know the people who can perform”?
AFF has been mobilizing Nigerians and raising value orientation consciousness amongst citizens against corruption and other vices since 2016 when it debuted its Anti-Corruption campaign, “Corruption Not In My Country”. It achieved this by engaging the services of renowned Nollywood actors and actresses to deliver over 30 drama messages which streamed to millions of homes in Nigeria and across Africa on CNN with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.
AFF followed with a first of its kind innovative technological portal, “FLAG IT” to curb corruption and other social vices that have combined to paralyze institutions and denied citizens assess to freedom, liberty, equity and justice.
According to Mr Fadeyi, its newest initiative, “Put On Your Thinking Cap”, aimed at sensitizing citizens on the need to vote wisely in 2023 will be massively rolled out and taken to every nook and cranny of the country; even as he ruled out chances of the project been hijacked by politicians.
Mr Fadeyi’s most impactful message on the day was to Nigerian intellectuals and influencers who he said are very active on national issues on the “Social Media” but display apathy when it comes to voting proper. He charged them to channel the same energy to pick up their voters’ cards ahead of the elections and ensure to actively get the job done in their various localities. “Elections are not won on social media”, he said.
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