By Sunny Awhefeada
It is no longer news that a revolution is sweeping across Nigeria. Driven by Nigerian youths, it is sweeping many in its wake. It is called the PVC revolution. One is confronted by the clamour and necessity of owning the item called PVC everywhere and anywhere one turns. The phenomenon is depicting the tenacity of a people genuinely fed up with an order and desirous of change.
What began as a mere whim and wish is gathering huge and unprecedented momentum. The PVC, which is the acronym for Permanent Voter’s Card, has suddenly become Nigeria’s most prized item and everybody is angling to possess one.
In churches as in mosques, in schools as in homes, in hamlets as in towns, in offices as in farms, everybody is talking about the PVC. This is not just a revolution ala change, but it is a phenomenon which speaks to the failure of leadership and by extension governance and the people’s, especially the youth, desire to effect change through the instrumentality of the ballot. What is in doubt is how this revolution will climax or end. Will it in the end enact the real change that Nigerians are yearning for or will it be hijacked and sabotaged? These are tentative questions to which time will provide answers.
The youths who have been short changed and confined to the margins are the champions of the revolution and anticipated new order. They are bent on altering the narrative. The youths have for long been at the receiving end of the nation’s political misadventures and socio-economic woes. They are confined to a life of misery and hopelessness even after working hard and earning university degrees. The Nigerian system has nothing to offer them. In desperation and quest for buffer, many take to menial and risky ventures to eke a living.
Others take to the precarious life of crime, drug addiction and other tendencies that make them among the scums of the earth for no fault of theirs. The Nigerian system pushed over 15 million school children out of school. Among them are those on the streets begging for alms. Others are in the forests as separatist fighters, bandits and terrorists.
Once vilified by President Buhari as lazy, brutalized by security agents and now locked out of the universities by the Minister of Labour Chris Ngige and his Education counterpart Adamu Adamu, our young men and women have come to see the reason why they shouldn’t wait for that fabled tomorrow to assume leadership. Yes, haven’t they been called leaders of tomorrow? They have realized that they didn’t need to wait for tomorrow. For if they did, only perdition awaited them.
That promised tomorrow is here and now and the youths have decided to take their country back through the only legitimate means of election that is known to Law. The youths are mobilizing and even people outside their age bracket have been inspired to register and obtain their PVCs. Registration centers are springing up everywhere across Nigeria and people are coming out in droves to register so that they could vote in the 2023 general elections and effect change of leadership. This is a quest for good leadership.
Once, and that is not long ago, people lamented that votes do not count in Nigeria. Elections were always massively rigged and when challenged in the law courts, money for judges always played decisive roles. The character of our elections is defined by former President Obasanjo’s unashamed declaration that elections were a do or die affair. It was for that reason that Nigerians thought that it was better to stay away from elections.
What followed was voter apathy in the land. Obasanjo’s successor and prime beneficiary of electoral heist, the late President Yar’ Adua, was to admit that the election that brought him to office was massively rigged and promised electoral reforms. He did begin the process of reforming our electoral process by setting up the Mohammed Uwais Committee. Unfortunately, President Yar’ Adua died. But that admittance and the decisive step of setting up the Uwais Committee to rework our electoral process snowballed into a series of events that brought us here.
The pivotal role the youths are playing at the moment can be credited to the terrifying awareness of how far Nigeria has gone down the wrong road. This awareness also has a global ring and influence to it. A new world order that is bound to cripple nations that are held down by bad leadership is upon us. And the prospect of being left behind is frightening and unthinkable. Nigeria’s development indices are weak and poor. There is absolutely nothing in Nigeria that is adding up at the moment. Every sector has failed.
These are some of the factors goading our Woke generation to say enough is enough. And they are being aided by new technologies. They saw the power of the youth in the Arab Spring that changed the tide in North Africa a little over ten years ago. Our Woke millennial generation enacted the famous #ENDSRAS uprising in October 2020 to protest and put an end to police brutality. Many see the PVC revolution as a continuation of #ENDSARS, with the sole purpose of ensuring that the Nigerian electorate vote and effect genuine change. The youths have a demographic advantage as they constituted about 65% of voters in the last election. Three or four years on, the number must have increased considerably. This is their moment. Let them dream dreams and see visions of a new nation. Let them use their demographic advantage to change the tide for good.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has promised to deliver on free and fair elections come 2023. It has also extended the registration exercise for the PVC. The Commission has embarked on some reforms and it is hoped that it will not go back to its dark days. That will be doom for Nigeria. The nation is ripe for a new beginning and the time is now. The people are crying that they have had enough. The PVC will speak for the desire for change and hopefully usher us into a new era that will throw up leaders who will not degrade Nigeria.
All the same, anxiety is mounting regarding the trajectory of the revolution. Will it fail or succeed? Either way, it is a step inaugurating a movement that shall someday manifest its aim, a new Nigeria. It is possible.