|Fi’ ammari Machar Zoaka, a graduate of Covenant University, has taken the next general elections as his life’s work. But for this engineering graduate, it goes beyond 2011: he and his friends are determined to use social culture to cause social–change. He speaks about BLING, Cool2Vote and others.
By Kenneth Oliko
What is BLING? Is made up of artistes or is the concept solely for entertainment?
BLING basically means Brilliant, Legitimate, Inspired Nigerian and Great and was birthed four months ago by a couple of friends. BLING is divided into two sections, the business aspect and the non-profit aspect. The business aspect included the event and entertainment which I head. We have branding and public relations, management, then the BLING Network which is the music section.
Cool2Vote is another organization that harnesses the power of culture to inspire young Nigerians to vote. Nigerian celebrities stand to be very strong authorities that influence young people on how to dress, talk and act, like addictions and you will agree that we are inspired by our custom. What we intend to do basically is to use the influence of these celebrities to persuade others to exercise their voting right. If after four years we don’t have reliable power supply and other infrastructural amenities as a result of our negligence, the situation calls for alarm and there is no better time than now to increase the awareness and campaign towards sensitizing young Nigerians to register first to vote, and select who they are voting for.
Looking at a situation whereby voters have selected candidates they would vote for, do you have provision for how they could get details about whom they have chosen to vote so as to enhance wise decision and judgment?
We are determined to ensure the voting public is well informed. We would make available an indebt researched document on persons vying for a political office so as to aid the voting public in better assessment. People would be able to assess thes information on our Face book fan page, on our website – www.cool2vote.org, and other social media.
There’s this notion about Nigerians being sentimental. A justification of this was the former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Gbadamosi referring to young people as incapable of taking leadership roles or position and the reactions that followed. When such declares his ambition for presidency, doesn’t that affect his stance with your group in anyway?
The history books tell it all. Most of the recent leaders of the world are young; Babangida himself was young when he ruled, he wasn’t even forty. So such an assertion is totally absurd. Young people see vision, old men dream dreams. We are visionary, daring and the like of Donald Duke who achieved so much as the governor of cross river state while he was under forty years of age and the likes of Dr. Urji Uzor Kalu.
How do you intend to get Nigerians to vote considering the belief many have that their votes don’t count?
We know that such notions exist. But we also know that young people are provoked and desperate for change and that if we do not come out in mass to vote, things can’t but get worse. Look at the strikes from different sectors, look at the wounds all around the nation, no water, and people are in darkness. Look at the LightUpNigeria Campaign – advocating for undisturbed power supply, we are tired! We need change, we need to move forward. When the time comes for us to vote, we have put in measures that we can use to ensure that there would be free and fair election. We intend having the data base of all who have registered to vote and then we would send them regular update via the networks by God’s grace and tell them countdown to election, get a mosque to go and lets ginger them. Imagine the likes of M.I and Jimmy Jatt saying “I have registered go do the same” and on the day of the election, myself, my team and others around the world will match with us and we would move from door to door asking people to go cast their vote. We believe that Nigeria would change so, if we can increase our own security, then bring in foreign bodies, we would be partnering with INEC and other people and organization that are concerned with the elections. It should be noted that we have no intension to cause trouble.
How do you intend to get students off campuses to return home for the registration exercise?
If the youth constitute over seventy percent of the whole population and majority are in our higher institution then we must go back home to register. There is nothing like registering in school, then come holiday and I can’t vote. I just pray that they understand. But we would mount pressure that all institutions of higher learning be shut.
What do you think about the several safe groups doing the same thing.
Nigeria @50 and how much government intends to spend on the celebration?
Knowing fully that the population is hungry, no water no reliable power supply, such money should be diverted to reviving electricity. The huge amount in my opinion should be diverted to providing and sustaining basic social amenities. If ten billion naira is pumped into our power sector and we all can see the improvement, I think then we can celebrate.
What should we expect from you in the coming months?
All we want to achieve is to ensure that all who is of age; registers and vote. Imagine the likes of Pastor Chris telling the youth to do likewise and Kevin of big brother. If our votes could make Kin win big brother, then voting does bring about results that are beneficial if backed up by active participation. So in the coming months, it’ll be creation awareness and educating the people on the need to RSVP – meaning – Register, Select, Vote and Protect.
Message for young people
Work hard, plays less, have a vision and also prays. “Yahoo-yahoo” doesn’t pay neither does violence.