Policies versus identities

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In the aftermath of the Nigerian Presidential elections, opposing sides of the political divide are currently exploring ways of coming to terms with the outcome of the exercise. The election campaigns didn’t seem to have much to do with policies. Politicians in that country treat the discourse almost as if they were contestants in a beauty pageant, except that the voters are expected to vote on matters pertaining to identity, instead of policies or ideologies.

In close to six decades as an independent nation, Nigeria has been governed for many years by military dictators, so it is no wonder that many of the citizens eligible to vote are still taking baby steps in understanding what their responsibilities are, during elections.

Democracy isn’t a perfect system of choosing governments. Those of us who live in nations who have used the system for centuries are aware of the feelings of disillusionment that can be felt by voters who don’t get the results they voted for, as can be witnessed in the UK and the USA in recent times.

As a principle for upholding values such as equality and fairness, no one has come up with a more convincing model, however. So perhaps the way forward is for everyone to be taught about the consequences of choices they make as voters, from as early in life as possible.

If education systems are set up to ensure that citizens are literate, numerate and informed enough to be productive for societies, doesn’t it make sense to include more learning about the way that the communities are run?