The idea that votes do not count is persistent in Nigeria. That idea is false yet tinged with an edge of truth. That is a characteristic of many beliefs underpinning our understanding of our society, country and global position.
Votes always count. Everyone, from the first citizen to the humblest trash monger is equal on election day. Their votes count the same. It is because our votes count that the violent seek to disenfranchise us. That is also why apathy is strangling our republic.
Yet a vote is not important. My assertion is fact despite the symbolic weight of the ballot paper as representative of the shared power of enfranchised citizens unique to democracies. Even a hundred per cent turnout will not punish criminals or add a single kobo to the exchequer.
Nigerians are the fulcrum of Nigeria. We matter most. Our actions, especially those taken in spheres not exposed to democratic control, determine what Nigeria was, is and can be. The reality of Nigeria is the sum of the actions that we take.
The Nigerian government is a powerful actor in Nigeria and Nigerian society. Votes select the members of the Legislative and Executive branches of government. But they do not influence the judiciary or the civil and armed bureaucracies that execute the will of the legislators and executives.
Your vote decides which names will go to the 37 capitals in Nigeria. Their ability to execute their proper functions will depend on the political programme of the parties that win, their political capacity and their understanding of the issues at stake.
We must remember that no individual can govern Nigeria. Only parties can even attempt that difficult task. Thus, we vote for parties, not individuals. Treasure your vote, and let wisdom guide your choice of parties.
Emmanuel-Francis is a Nigerian nationalist. He is for clean streets, safe nights and full bellies. Please, indulge his verbosity; and join his campaign to abolish the African Union.