By Ignatius Chukwu
All elections in a general elections should be held same day so the wishes of the electorate would be unveiled same time.
This was the strong suggestion submitted at the WhillzTrust Foundation voter education conference in Port Harcourt by a strident voice in the Niger Delta, Annkio Briggs, who is described as a fearless fighter for resource control and justice and equity.
Briggs, born by an Ijaw father and a British mother 70 years ago, said it wrong to stagger the elections and allow one to influence the outcome of the others.
Presidential election holds in February along with National Assembly elections while those of the governors and Houses of Assembly hold in March every election year.
Briggs said since the lawmakers and governors were going to work with the president and NASS members, it was right that they get elected same day and independently.
The fiery resource control fighter who said she preferred resource control to presidential quota poured lamentations over erosion of societal values and crash of sound education.
Speaking on the youth day (Day 3 of the three day conference series under the theme, ‘Equipping the Voters’, she said voting is a right, but urged the authorities to provide safe environment for willing voters to come out.
She said she had campaigned for voting since 2011, but wondered what people would do in the face of violence such as the killing of 20 persons in Abonnema in 2019.
Condemning under-aged registration/voting, the activist said a vehement ‘no’ to stopping of voter registration at any point, saying people turn 18 years of age everyday and should not be denied a right to vote.
She rather urged the government to make birth/death registration robust and accurate saying; “You are not a civilized nation if you do not have a mechanism for knowing when a citizen is born is dead. For now, it is very poor.”
She took a swipe at those saying the Ijaws had ruled for six years, saying Goodluck Jonathan only obeyed the Constitution by completing Umaru Musa Yar’Adua term. She made it clear that 2023 is never the turn of the North, and not even South-West, if equity and fairness were anything to go by.
“The youths of the Niger Delta must understand the true story of the region so you know what you are voting for. Nigeria agreed on rotation. It has gone to the north from the north. It is due to return to the south.
“The Permanent Voters Card (PVC) is the decider of your fate. Don’t bother to march for or shout your candidate’s name if you have no PVC. “
She drilled the youths on severe cases of injustice in Nigeria including local content policy that hardly favours the local people and boundary adjustment that she said gave out oil wells without giving out the communities that own the wells. “Any attempt at North-North handover will be height of injustice. It is thus wrong to support injustice. I feel sorry for those who support evil.
“Youths must not support evil so evil does not follow them. In Federal Character policy, southerners are made to gain admission with very high scores but some sections just walk in with next to zero scores. They are the first to get jobs in federal agencies.”
Another resource person, Yibo Koko, general manager, Rivers State Tourism Development Agency (RSTDA), a film expert and music maker urged the youths to plan and be focused to avoid blaming witchcraft for their failures later in life.
He said the theme, ‘Equipping the Voters’, should also touch how the youths should be equipped to pursue life careers.
Urging the youths to get their PVCs, Koko told them to reject N5,000 bribery in exchange of their PVCs. He urged them to create and identify their dreams.
He said leaders in the oil region were also causing more tears on the people, and wondered who would be leaders should a republic be created for them. He thus urged the youths to work harder on careers than on fighting for a republic.
Okey Ezeanyim (PhD), Deputy Lead, Volunteer Desk, WhillzTrust Foundation, said the youths could decide to stay home and fight for a better Nigeria. He said it may not be all about ‘Japa’, exodus to foreign lands.
He argued that since the youths dominate the voters register up to 75 per cent, it means that whoever will lead Nigeria in 2023 will be decided by youths of Nigeria. He said the foundation has worked hard to mobilize voters.
In his welcome speech, the Executive Director of WhillzTrust Foundation, Aaron Anyanwu, said the greatest observation so far is that organizations are willing to identify with anyone found to be doing the right thing.
He urged the youths and the handicapped persons to make use of the three days of lecturers to get empowered to lead in their various communities and areas so that voters can come out massively in 2023