The attention of Igbo Ekunie Initiative (IEI), comprising individuals in Nigeria and the Diaspora has been drawn to calls for the boycott of elections in the Southeast and South-South. Having carefully considered the reasons given by those who have advanced such ideas we wish to declare as follows:
While we note, acknowledge and share the legitimate grievances giving rise to such calls for an election boycott, we wish to state that any boycott would be counter-productive as it would only further empower those who pursued policies that led to the grievances in the first place.
All over the world, the purpose of elections is to allow individuals and groups aggregate their ideas and express it through political participation to ensure that their voices are heard, their concerns addressed and ultimately that their agenda can be actualised. Through this strategy, the aims, objectives, and ideals of those who propagate the election boycott will be better served when they actively participate in elections and elect those who closely identify with their ideals.
While we acknowledge that elections in Nigeria remain largely imperfect; however challenging and or being part of the process through massive voter registration, participation in elections and mobilizing to protect your votes still guarantees a better outcome than altogether abandoning the process and giving sure victory to those diametrically opposed to your political ideals.
Nigeria’s political history since the 1st republic has shown that boycotting elections only provided worse outcomes for those who did so out of legitimate grievances. Notably; elections were never cancelled as a result and those with opposing ideas only got vested with absolute power.
In 2006 when the “Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra” (MASSOB) campaigned for a boycott of the national census in the Southeast, it only served to considerably reduce the headcount in affected areas while census results emerging from the process were never cancelled. In the end; the ultimate loser was the South-East.
We submit therefore that repeating such a mistake is defeatist. Massive mobilization for voter registration and participation in the Southeast and South-South is a more constructive win-win situation; in that it will provide ultimate electoral power to groups and individuals who can then aggregate their agenda and pursue it through their votes.
We note that voter registration in the North is encouraged to the extent that under-age children are actively engaged in voter registration. Though illegal, the North has used such means to leverage their voting power.
While we do not encourage the registration of under-age children in the South-East and South-South, we call for a massive voter registration and participation drive-by indigenes of these regions wherever they reside across the nation. This will make it possible to leverage and maximize their voting power in view of using same to pursue their ideals and ultimately actualize their agenda whether it be to restructure Nigeria/true federalism or for a referendum on self-rule.
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”—Plato–.
Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke
President Igbo Ekunie Initiative
Secretary Igbo Ekunie Initiative