Yesterday, I decided to go to work at whatever time I would have registered myself as a voter for the upcoming elections. I went to the registeration spot (iyanfoworogi :)) that I heard had come to my area on Sunday, determined to make my vote and voice count. On getting there, we ( I went with two other people that were old enough to vote in my house) discovered that we could write our names somewhere and come back just in time. We followed all the laid down protocols, but what I saw in this registeration place was scary.
I was there for a considerable period of time, and couldn’t help noticing that majority of the people that had come to register were not elites. Some of them were area boys, conductors, jobless joes, apprentices, old men, tired women – the typical D class, the uneducated masses. I don’t mean to sound derogatory, but the crowd that I saw in that place looked like the set of people who would do much for short term gratification. Small wonder 50 Naira per head makes a lot of difference at the polls. I asked myself if the regular employee of MTN, Shell, Chevron, Virgin, e.t.c. could have the time to wait through all these protocols. I wondered that even if the elections were free and fair, who would vote, and who would they vote for?
I wasn’t going to be left wondering for long. Here I was arriving again after I had been called that the queue had moved and it would be my turn in another 5 mins. I got in there, waiting excitedly to gain the status of one who is able to decide – a voter, when I got the answer to all my wondering. A 45-ish balding man came in, and in less than 3 minutes we were almost resulting into a royal rumble, or is it called survival series? We practically started shouting at each other, and some were willing to get physical – why? Good question. I’ll explain why. This man, we later discovered was eyeing the position of local government chairman. He first came in to chat with the coordinators of the registeration, telling them he would bring a generator, some fuel and all what not to make sure they were comfortable, he then informed the lady that his lady (couldn’t place if it was wife, woman friend, or party member), should be registered as soon as possible. He was told that we were already on a virtual queue as all our names were on a list, that was when pandemonium broke loose.
Trust me not to be involved in any fighting, but trust me also to try my best to be an opinion leader. Eventually, we all cooled down and resumed our places on the queue, but I had learnt some vital lessons.
1. If the registeration process can be compromised so easily, what about the voting process? We’ll need to go there, not just to cast our votes, but also to make our votes count. It’s not going to be like sitting in Mr Biggs, it’s going to be serious business.
2. You are not an opinion leader by grammer. These guys are area boys! You’ll need to be able to speak the language of the common man, and appeal to their reasoning. It takes different skills believe me, and one I know works well is if you are not alone. You can imagine one man saying we will not agree. I had to ask him who we was… afterall one person cannot say we have arrived.
3. You won’t believe this, but at a point I really thought it would be a good idea to have a gun ;). To just point it up and shout ” Will you all shut up and listen?”, but guess that’s not sustainable. It made me realize that if the police are compromised, then the process will run however way they desire. With the types of people I see voting, the man that holds a gun surely gets his opinion ranked.
By and by, the question is this. Even if the elections were free and fair, who would vote? You haven’t registered, and every one more of you that haven’t make it easy for the process to be compromised. A friend told me yesterday that my vote would not count, I smiled, haven’t we all believed that before? But let’s say for example that God happens to hear our prayers, would we be part of the voices he would use?
I know (by experience) that getting a place, getting the time, or even getting both to go and register is tough, but we need to do this. No matter how much you believe in the future of Nigeria, if you think Angels will come down from heaven to make it happen you are a clown. I believe companies should give their employees any one day to get this sorted out. Tell your MD I said so 😉
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