During my CDS days while serving in Ibadan, I usually had a lot of free time after our meetings at the secretariat. I always head back home, with my pack of amala and snacks with no intention of coming out once I enter. It was during one of these serene moments I watched a TED Talk on political apathy. It was a talk by Dave Meslin. He basically redefined apathy as we all know it.
When we argue in our meetings and workshops about why people, especially young people don’t vote, we instantly assume it’s because they’re uneducated or selfish so they don’t see the value of voting. This is one way to look at it, but not entirely the whole story.
Have you ever considered that the system is genuinely created to discourage participation at every level? Dave Meslin coined the term, ‘intentional exclusion.’ It infers a system that is intentionally structured to discourage participation at every level by the elite ruling class whom the system favours. When I was in University, in my final year I had this compulsory course called Jurisprudence. It was an unspoken rule in that course that nobody ever got an ‘A’ or a ‘B’. The acceptable grades were ‘C’ and there down under. The marking scheme was already structured in a sense that no matter how much effort you put in, the lecturer was never going to score you above a particular grade.
Our electoral process is rigged. It encourages political apathy. It’s good to talk about civic education and educate people on the factors on which they should vote but how about making the system conducive for them to participate? I, for once haven’t gotten my PVC despite having gone to the centers twice. I’m a working professional. Why is the system not accommodating enough for those of us that have to work 5-6 times a week? Political parties until recently have been largely repressive. These are usually the entry points for a citizen to become politically engaged and for a long time have been shut to the common man with good intentions. Cultural barriers which look down on women who aspire to an office are still very prevalent. It’s almost as if our whole system is rigged to prevent development.
Once in a while, you’ll see someone who’ll come out with a prophecy that they were chosen by God to rule our country. I call it the ‘Chosen One mentality’. One person alone can’t save our country; it will take all of us to do the job. Politics has no religion.
The truth is, as long as our electoral processes are constructed in a way to make the voting process or political participation difficult, the quality of our political system and voting decisions will not improve.
Yet, here is the call to action, the system is designed to rig you out, but find a way, find a time, get your PVC and be involved.