Political participation and role of citizens- Richard Fashua
Political participation is used to describe actions taken by citizens of a country to influence the outcome of political issues via participation in political processes. It provides an opportunity for electorates to influence public decisions and to be a part of the democratic decision making process.
It is noteworthy that the outcome of any political process in a democratic setting is highly dependent on the awareness and positive involvement of the citizenry in civic and political activities.
Political participation in Nigeria is yet to live up to expectation even as political apathy holds sway across the nation. Election statistics over the years has further shown the extent of political apathy in Nigeria. Sadly, the consequence is a continuous upsurge in incompetent political office holders and more opportunity for rigging during election.
The role of the citizens in political participation cannot be overemphasized. For us in Nigeria, it involves a total overhaul of our political philosophy and psychology. Citizens need to know that they are obliged to participate in governance across all levels by voting during elections, joining a political party and encouraging someone to vote.
Other forms of political participation includes the act of attending political rallies, sensitization meeting such as the ‘One Voice Nigeria’ movement or even signing a petition at constituency level both online and offline.
Further alternative to political participation include; protesting, writing letters, blogging about political issues, donating resources, volunteering in any capacity, vying for a political post, organizing and attending town hall meetings with political representatives.
Fortunately, with the 68 political parties in Nigeria according to INEC, the platform for political participation has been made even more possible.
Likewise, the rise in technology and social media can be leveraged as regards contributing, monitoring, reporting, sensitizing and even signing online petitions on issues that have to do with political office holders. The prospect is unlimited.
Conclusively, there is no better time other than now to rewrite our wrongs by reshaping the future of Nigeria even as many things depend on us as the electorates. As crucial as it is, the fundamental role of citizens in politics can be included in our curriculum and lifestyle so as to ensure a political-sustainable development.