By Christian Aburime
Democracy is determined by numbers. Winners in election are determined by the number of votes cast. Every vote is deemed crucial. Consequently, one vote could indeed decide the fate of a prospective political candidate.
Little wonder the politicians, as smart as ever, will do everything humanly possible to ensure they garner as much votes as possible to emerge victorious in an election
In this part of the world, there has been this notion that it is only the grassroots people that vote. This may not have been scientifically or otherwise verified. But the belief remains that the grassroots constitute the majority as voters. So who exactly are these grassroots people?
The grassroots people are often considered to be the citizens at the lower segment of the socio-economic ladder who may not be so educated and enlightened.
The elites are supposedly learned or at least presumed to be so. They are also enlightened and very exposed. They do the political arguments and fireworks in the social media platforms – Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.
To change this narratives, a group of well meaning elites came together to set up a forum called the Soludo Promoters Forum (SPF), not only to address this anomaly known as elites apathy but to encourage them to be part and parcel of the electoral voting process in a democratic engagement.
The just concluded Edo State gubernatorial election became a case study of what the elites can do in a democratic process.
Several of my friends who ordinarily would never have bothered to vote came out surprisingly to vote during the Edo Governorship election. What was responsible for their change of mind to vote? All the abracadabra and shenanigans during the electioneering and the offensive utterances from some of the political actors were interpreted as a direct assault to their collective sensibilities
And the only option left for them was to participate actively by casting their vote on the D-day for the candidate of their choice.
Today, the result of the outcome of that election has shown the power and influence the elites wield when pushed to the wall.
I can conveniently count a number of my friends of Edo extraction who travelled home from other states of the federation just to be part of the Edo election. A myth that was held for so many years was broken on that election day. And at the end of the day, the people’s will prevailed, as their votes counted. This is the beauty of democracy.
To encourage the elites to come out from their cocoon, just like what we witnessed in Edo State, remains the central reason the Soludo Promoters Forum’ came into effect.
Its primary assignment is to discourage the elites’ apathy by encouraging them to join forces with the grassroots voters rather than standing aloof and watching from the sideline.
The elites cannot hold claims to be good political analysts and yet not participate fully in the process that will elect their leaders. This is largely part of the narrative that SPF seeks to change by ensuring every stakeholder in the polity participates in every democratic engagement or processes
The activities of SPF have greatly changed the narratives in recent time. The launch of SPF in Nkpologwu in Aguata LGA in Anambra broke the ice.
The success of the Nkpologwu declaration has given more impetus for the campaign of elites’ active participation in the electoral processes.
As stakeholders, the elites can effectively play the role of influencers/persuaders during campaigns by guiding and educating the grassroots voters on the best candidate to vote for. Candidates who have the capacities to change their lives positively.
The elites must take their destinies in their own hands. They must join the wind of change being propagated by the Soludo Promoters Forum. Otherwise, the wrong people will always get into political offices at the detriment of all.
Come September 26, 2020, SPF chapter in Anaocha will be inaugurated, to be followed by Idemili chapter on October 3, 2020, all in Anambra state.
Those who have taken this initiative to set up this novel idea of the Soludo Promoters Forum ultimately deserve our commendations for this wonderful idea.
The Anambra 2021 Governorship election will be a ‘test case’ as both the elites and the grassroots voters, for once in the history of the state, will be lining up together just as we witnessed in Edo state to cast their vote for the best candidate of their choice.
Going forward, the SPF idea is therefore a win win situation, as it will surely change the political future both in Anambra state and other states in the coming years!
*Mr. Aburime writes from Ewu, Esan Central LGA, Edo State.