Me, I have pondering and wondering over this voter's registration process o, was just waiting for the right time to put it here for you to read! Right time being when I actually experience this thing that people are talking about!
First, we all know that the word 'election' and 'Nigeria' in one sentence will almost, always cause people to snicker, hiss, sigh or curse! And for good reasons too! Everyone who lives in this Great Country (except, of course the perpetrators of political and electoral evils themselves) know that Nigeria is yet to attain that level of excellence when it comes to elections and everything that pertains to it (in everything, actually, lets not deceive ourselves). Some will blame the Government in general, and some political (Iwu??!) officers in particular for the many failings of the electoral process, but it is impossible to take an aspect of the economy out of the whole! If the entire body is ill, that is exactly what is ill, The Entire Body! The Nigeria system, the totality of it, is ill, why would the electoral process be expected to run smoothly? Haba, great expectation.
Anyway sha, now for voters registration: all manner of issues, (we all know what they are, no sense in blocking this blog enumerating them, since we hear and read about them daily) have trailed this process almost relentlessly.
Some people have referred to them as 'teething problem', mais, please, while that is good and very apt grammar, what happens when the 'teeth' become full grown and begins to bite in all the wrong places?? Abi?? I am thinking that is the direction in which we are headed right now oh, if some things are not nipped in the bud!
Can you imagine that for the first time (in my own lifetime), Nigerians have accepted to take responsibility for having a say in who governs them, but the process of carrying out this responsibility is becoming such an impediment. I can only pray, that our resolve to actually register because we want to vote, will not be weakened by these 'teeths'. LOL!!! kai, Dora and grammar!
Why are there so many issues? Why is this process so fraught with them? From day 1, considering how much had been spent? From firms supplying the machines, to customs, to stolen machines, to arbitrarily saying (would that be correct grammar?? Figure it out biko, I must get this out while it is flowing!!) that schools will be used for registration, hence children, stay home! We all know the debates that have gone on around this issue: which is more important? Getting the nation on the right track through 'seamless' electoral process or Education? Hmmm, talk about a thin line, a very thin line. While we (let me say I, because na me dey speak now, abi?) agree that both are important, how about putting proper process in place for things to actually run 'seamlessly?' How about a round table with the NUT and other relevant agencies to discuss the possible use of the schools first?? How does the government intend to 'make up' for lost time for schools? Hasn't this singular act thrown the school calendar out of order? I just dey muse ni o.
While we think that there may never be enough time to really put proper arrangements in place for the kind of elections (rig-free) we look forward to, methinks it would have have made tremendous difference if the citizenry were made to feel that the Govt had done enough of what could be done. Alas, not so, at least not from the feed backs pouring in.
Electronic equipments with inexperienced hands manning them? Other than wasting precious time trying to familiarize themselves with the workings of the equipment (training on the job, you may say) what would be the end of equipments that were procured at millions of naira? The issue of maintenance culture comes up here, but, uh uh, that is a blog for another day.
How about the issue of proper conduct on the part of the 'officials?' I did say that while this issue is paramount on my mind, I was waiting for the right time to blog it, the first thing that hit me yesterday is the fact that 'Nigerians are actually willing to register to vote!", the second thing that brought home the fact that this needed to be written is that a colleague and friend was physically abused by mobile policemen a few days ago, after he had tried severally (both on weekends and on week days, taking time off work) to register! And my grouse is, being willing to abide as a 'proudly Nigerian' person, is it too much to ask that a process of actually attending to people be put in place?
Here is his story: as at when the officials were ready to close shop the day before, there were about 70 people who had not been registered, they were asked to write down their names and to come back the following day at 10am. By the time he arrived and was waiting for the officials, there were already about 200 people that morning. The officials decided to continue with the present list, ignoring the one of the day before...haba, proper Naija people must protest na! and they did! But some 'big guns' who had come to register with their own private Mopols would have none of the idea of registering one from yesterday, one from today! and because my colleague's protest was loudest, (and rightly so, we take too much keeping quiet) he was ordered to be 'removed' from the scene!!!
Do you see why some people would be discouraged? Lets not even talk about the fact that the officials never resume at 8am, some of them are rude, some are so slow, others are so unorganized, some fiddle with their phones (Blackberries of course!) while finger printing is going on, the list is endless, I know this for sure now because I finally registered yesterday (yeees, from 9am until exactly 1.45pm, I had my book and go-go cup of tea: was ready to stay there all day, if necessary).
But my colleague na die hard o! He eventually went to Ikoyi (from Lekki) to register, and plans to sleep over somewhere come April!! I hope we have more Nigerians with his kind of spirit.
People, be free oh....in this case, to register. Lol.
A plus tard.