Wednesday, 28 February 2018

My Voter’s Card Registration – The Drama That Ensued, The Five Things I Observed.

Mountains are surmountable and limits can be broken were lines I prepped myself with on this third trial trip to get my voter’s card registration done. I have had two failed trials due to mammoth crowd at the registration center. The earliest I could arrive at the center was 6:15am, by this time usually the needed number of people to be attended to by INEC officials for the day would have been complete as they will usually have carry over names from previous day(s). 

So on Monday the 5th of February, 2018 I got up early as possible and arrived the registration center by 6:15am only to meet a crowd of about 20 people in a heated argument. They were been told by the School’s security men which was the registration venue to go back to their homes or offices because they were no longer writing names as the list of names required by INEC officials for that day was complete. They were only about 20 people on ground and it was alleged that 50 people had written down their names. Definitely there were ghost names, people that had probably bribed the security guys to write their names in their absence, which was done at the expense of people who were on ground. The Nigeria factor will always play out in any and every process, I meditated to myself. 

Of course I joined the “We no go gree crowd.” I can’t come out this early and be asked to return home just because of some faceless names that were written down; I am not going to play to the gallery on this one. I pulled out one of the school benches available at the center and sat down ready to fight for my right. But who fights sitting down; quickly I got up again, guys we have to do something about this. 

At this time the crowd was growing so we decided to form our own list, since we were refused to be included in the alleged INEC list for the day. One of us got a 20 leave notebook and the name writing process began. Omo, the number of people screaming, shoving and manipulating for their names to be written was enough to deter a cool, introverted and easy going person like me. But I was prepped for this, so with grit I pushed into the crowd and I had my name written as the 11th person. Hippy I made it through the first hurdle. 

By this time it was just 7.30am and INEC officials usually arrives center at 9.00am. OMG, one and half hours to wait? I was prepped for this, so i pulled out my book to read, ready to wait the long haul. 

Instead of the book, my eyes settled on the secondary school pupils who hastily made their way into the school compound, rushing to avoid been late. The school assembly band beat melodiously into my ears and I couldn’t help but flash back to school days. The memory was quite emotional, especially of those who picked dirt for coming late, in that group I would always belong, LOL. 

9am on the dot INEC Officials arrived, been a Nigerian I didn’t expect them to keep to time but they did, kudos to INEC. They soon settled down, and the real fight began. “Today, we are going to attend to Wednesday list, those who have written their names since Wednesday, then we will move to names of the 50 people who had their names written with the School security men as we had ordered them to do so. Oya please everybody shift back, get behind the line and let us start calling the names.” This was the announcement by the INEC official, which automatically excluded me from been attended to for that day, I am neither on the Wednesday list or the Security men list. Both lists were made up of about 300 people. 

I was about to give up again for that day when my mind alerted me, “mountains are surmountable and limits can be broken”. Considering that most people whose names were contained on both lists are absent from the registration poll, we approached INEC officials and they agreed to attend to our list when they are through with the two alleged official list for the day. This gave me some kind of hope, so I stayed praying that 90% of those on the list won’t be around and God answered my prayers. 

I did a bit of unsolicited co-ordination; I ensured that those whose names were not called would not cheat their way into the line. That took so much of my energy as I had to scream and move around a lot. But I soon realized INEC officials were so organized and had made the process in such a way that cheating into lines was literally impossible. You were only given forms when your name is called and verified with an acceptable identity card. And again, kudos to INEC officials. 

At about 1.49pm on the dot, yours truly got her registration done. The sense of fulfillment I felt is of those who won a lottery of N10, 000,000.00. I was happy that I might get to vote for the first time ever in my life, but my happiness was more on the fact that I will finally rest from those go and get your voter’s card advocates that have been worrying person. I must commend them sha, una try! 

At this time I had time to really laugh, Nigerians never run out of jokes even in the most difficulty times. So I relished every one of them; the man that was told he left home 4am to come do registration because his wife must have chased him out of the house, the INEC official who was been teased, etc. It was both a stressful and delightful experience which came with some observations I will like share- 

1. Heightened Citizen’s Engagement -The impressive turn out of Nigerians at registration poll is worthy of note. This is largely as a result of heightened awareness amongst citizens of their civic responsibility and the role it plays in shaping governance or the government of the day. It also goes to say that Nigerians believe more in the electoral process and are certain that their vote will make a difference as Nigeria decides in 2019. 

2. Timely and well organized INEC officials - I didn’t expect that any government institution in Nigeria could have a near excellence service. Organization at the registration center exceeded my expectation. Because of the mammoth crowd, I expected that the process would be chaotic but to my amazement, INEC officials were in good control. The officials kept to their arrival time and people were attended to in an orderly manner, this is commendable. 

3. Insufficient Registration Centers – As at 5th February, 2018 when I did my registration, information reaching me was for the whole of Wuse zones, Wuse 11, Maitama, Mabushi, Utako, Jabi, Lifecamp area in Abuja, the Wuse zone 3 Secondary school was the only functioning center and this accounts for the huge number of people who come to the center. As a result of this, people are unable to get their registration done even after several attempt. Several complain have been made to INEC on this, I hope more centers are functional now. 

4. Transfer of Voter’s Registration Card – Prior to my registration, I heard a lot of people complain about their inability to vote in the forthcoming election due to location issues. Apparently, the location where their registration was done is different from their new residence. My discovery that day is that you can transfer your registration location to your present residence, which will enable you to vote on Election Day. That is a commendable development and I have been able to spread that information as much as I can. 

5. Nigerians are desperate for change – There’s an unusual rise in voter’s card registration advocates and also a strong willingness by the people to blaze through any hurdle to get their registration done. I perceive a shared interest by a good number of Nigerians to change the status-quo. Simply put Nigerians are tired and are desperate for genuine change. 

Following global events, the determinant of who wins election is no longer within the purview of incumbency or mainstream party membership; unlikely people are emerging winners, as seen in the case of Trump and Macron. 

Nigeria already has new faces of aspirants who do not belong to mainstream parties running for one key office or the other in 2019. Will we shape up with global events and deliver an unlikely candidate in 2019 or will the ruling party remain? 

No one has the answer now, but whatever the case, Nigerians are obviously desperate for genuine change. Not only change of those in government but change in governance that improves the socio-economy realities of the people who have given them power. 

2019 is just by the corner, get involved, register for your voter’s card and make your vote count for real change. 

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