Did we really not have a choice in 2015?
I was startled when Dami, the former Vice-President of my Community Development Service Group, told me that she voted for Mrs Oluremi Shonaiya of the KOWA Party last year in the general election.
Up until the moment she made that revelation to me while we queued to do the usual, strenuous monthly clearance, I hadn’t been able to add a face to those scanty numbers the INEC returning officer called out in 2015.
To me, they were just abstract numbers. Faceless and inconsequential. We had just two choices to choose from: the PDP and the APC. And I told Dami. She laughed, either at my ignorance or bewildered look, and explained that a friend took her to one of Mrs Oluremi’s campaign rally (again, I was shocked. Oluremi had a rally? really??) and she was swooned by her understanding of critical issues. She paid attention to her from that point on and decided in her mind that she would give her her vote. And she did.
For a moment, I felt foolish. Here was a young lady (judging from her looks as she didn’t tell me her age) that agreed with me that Goodluck Jonathan was really an ineffectual buffoon that needed to be changed, but had a completely different idea of change to mine.
She didn’t tell me so, but, perhaps, she was more discerning and critical. She didn’t allow the desperation to get rid of GEJ divorce her from proper scrutiny and reasoning. Perhaps, she saw through the many lies of the APC and Buhari for who he really is: an incompetent man whose ideas are older than his age. Perhaps, she did more thinking, more examination.
Unlike many of us, she did not will herself into believing that we had only two choices and in stead, opened up her eyes to the actual reality: we had several choices, only chose to focus on two of them. Especially those of us who are largely non-partisan and have our election choice(s) informed primarily by competence and quality of ideas.
The argument that a vote for other party(ies), aside the APC, would have greatly increased the chance of PDP winning is true and I had it in one corner of my mind in 2015. But that wasn’t what really influenced me. I genuinely believed the promises of the APC and, looking back now, it makes me look foolish.
I should have known a good number of them are unrealistic. I should have seen through Buhari. And like Dami, I should have paid attention to the other candidates. At least, listen to their argument and ideas.
With each passing day, it dawns on me that we had — and still have — two choices because, by default, we give them all the attention and ignore the other choices. It is a willful ignorance, not the reality and until we take responsibility and make amends, it will remain so for a long time to come.
Right now, I’m just trying to be like Dami. Oluwadamilola who didn’t wait for me to say “your vote didn’t count, you wasted it” before telling me something that sounded like: “My vote and others like me counted. INEC announced it. They just weren’t enough. But we can sleep soundly knowing that we joined our voice to that of a candidate we truly believed in. That is all that counts”
And truly, it is all that counts.