After a fiercely contested and heated election, Nigerians said goodbye to the polls last Saturday, March 18. For many, their participation in the country’s democracy and polity has ended, and now it is time to return to their regular routines. However, this should not become the norm. Instead, it is time to buckle up and become actively engaged in the day-to-day affairs of the country
It is no secret that voting is crucial for the sustainability of democracy. In the same way that water is vital to a thirsty plant, voting is critical to a functioning democracy. Democracy has become an integral part of the Nigerian identity over the years. However, it is important to recognize that without active citizenship, a government of, by, and for the people cannot endure
How can we become active citizens and fulfill our responsibility? Active citizens are individuals who go beyond their fundamental duty of voting and engage in actions that bring positive developments to their community
To be an active citizen is not complicated; they come in all shapes or sizes. It could be volunteering for a non-governmental organisation, participating in social media campaigns or using technology to advocate social causes, or lobbying elected officials and policymakers to make laws and regulations that support a particular group.
Importance of Active Citizenship to the Society
Active citizenship helps to promote accountability among our elected officials. When politicians know that their constituents are watching their every move, they’re more likely to act in the best interests of the people they serve.
Active citizenship promotes a sense of community and shared responsibility. By working together on civic projects, citizens build connections with one another and create a sense of belonging within their communities.
Active citizenship can help to combat social inequalities and injustices. By advocating for causes such as voter rights, affordable housing, and equitable education, engaged citizens can work to create a more just and fair society.
Active citizenship promotes personal satisfaction and fulfilment. By engaging in meaningful work or volunteer activities, citizens can gain a sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Despite the benefits of active citizenship, several barriers affect citizens’ willingness to participate. The lack of understanding of the issues is a significant obstacle to active citizenship. As the old saying goes, “you can’t fight what you don’t understand!” With the numerous issues impacting our world today, it’s challenging to keep up with everything, especially when you have a full-time job, a family to care for, or a binge-worthy series to watch. However, ignorance is not bliss, and if you want to be an active citizen, you must be well informed.
Another barrier is the lack of trust in politicians and government officials. It’s hard to feel inspired to get involved when the people supposed to represent us are often embroiled in controversy and scandal, making it difficult for the citizens to differentiate between the good and the bad apples.
The lack of resources is another primary concern, such as funds, access to technology or tools, and economic challenges. The lack of financial resources may also pose a significant obstacle, especially for people living in poverty-stricken areas, who have limited time and resources to devote to active citizenship.
Active citizenship is critical, and we must encourage it daily. The duty to build an equitable and just society should not rest on the shoulders of our elected leaders only; we must participate in it to make them on their toes and accountable. Looking for a community of active citizens? You can volunteer for YMonitor and the Future Project.