– Okonta Emeka
Our nation today is greatly bedevilled by the twin maladies of electoral injustice and ballot ignorance.
Research into past electoral experiences in Delta State, since 1999, reflects that the state has a concerning number of cases of electoral injustice. Some cases resulting in deaths, loss of properties, bodily harm leading to permanent disabilities, diseases, inter-personal and group disharmony.
In regard to electoral injustice, media publications and court cases abound but the major issue here is the ‘why’ factor. Many researchers and civil society actors have sought to understand the reasons behind this democratic gap.
The effects of electoral injustice can lead to a complete break down of peace, negatively impacting on people’s social economies, the establishment of lawlessness and strange cultural realities.
To a very great extent humans too have the committed responsibilities to stamp out electoral injustice.
Electoral injustice is never an act or actions devil or demons execute, but something mortal human beings do.
The change necessary should be the responsibility of few leadership-driven citizens at the least, identifying themselves and committing that the sole aim of their meeting shall be to gather to determine the actions to be taken: at first, limit the frequency of electoral injustice within their immediate locality and over time, marshal out means to finally phase out electoral injustice from their political culture.One vital root cause of electoral injustice in Delta State is traceable to ballot ignorance, poverty and zero political impact on good governance. How will such undemocratic culture not take roots in the state amidst an ineffective socialisation process?
Come to think of this circumstance, Delta State is one of, if not the only, state within Southern Nigeria that does not have functional private radio and television stations within the capital city.
The few independent weekly or monthly newspaper outfits are hopelessly struggling to stay afloat, with many weekly publications staying weeks after their last publication.
The task of putting an end to electoral injustice and crushing ballot ignorance is and will always remain a task only the citizens can wake up onto.
As citizens begin to identify themselves and start holding regular and periodic meetings, there is a need for national and international leadership and community development organisations to build their capacity and help them organise them into a community of active citizens. At community levels, active citizens can constitute corporate entities, where their stewardship and leadership prowess can be developed with the intent of seeking and sustaining a healthy democratic culture.
Only active citizens can work out strategies that can stamp out electoral injustice and related vices.