I have just spent two hours looking for a place to register to vote in the next elections. I believe I am fairly educated, not too much,so finding a place should not be difficult. At least, so I thought. I was wrong, very much wrong!
I found none in my estate that has over six hundred houses! I found none in the other estates around! I was beginning to worry, so I kept asking people in my neighbourhood. I live in one of the numerous modern estates around the Apo Legislators Quarters, and the population of the combined estates should be about one hundred thousand, or more!
So here I am, early on Friday morning, the missus in tow, looking for a place to register! The people kept giving me information that turned out to be wrong. I was becoming frustrated, no one was going to pay me to vote, and I was not even running in the election. In addition, I had abandoned all my business appointments for the day to do this. I was beginning to feel like the child whose parents want to get him out of the house, and is hence sent on a wild goose, or is it guinea fowl? chase!
We had to start calling friends to find out if they had registered, and finally we got a name. We were told to go to Galadimawa! If you live around Sun City Estate, Abuja, you would know that Galadimawa is a little nondescript, decrepit shanty settlement living on borrowed time. Everything in that settlement is an illegal structure. The only thing legitimate there is the primary school.
And that was where the second surprise waited. I found people sitting around, they looked like they were doing nothing, but their body language told me differently: they actually were on a queue, each had been given a number that determined the order in which they would be attended to.
I was impressed, but not for long! I asked where I could obtain my number, and was told that I could not get a number anymore for today! You can imagine my shock! so I asked a foolish question, how many people do you register in one day? Someone replied, "If we are lucky, they register almost the one hundred people with numbers!
I was speechless!
There is trouble afoot! And I suspect it is the offspring of mischief, official mischief!
A lady came and sought to put down her name against tomorrow. She was told tomorrow's one hundred had been exhausted, what about Sunday, she inquired? That too was gone, we ended up putting our name on the list for Monday! And based on what was on ground, there was no guarantee we would be registered on Monday!
If you ask me, this is a recipe for anarchy, and rigging!
Could some people be hoarding the machines, and be ensuring that only party stalwarts, people who are sure to vote for the party, have access to be registered?
Is it also possible, that some individuals might put down their names, like I did, and another would come, and claim to be me, and hence disenfranchise me, by registering in my place?
Professor Jega, the Independent National Electoral Commission,INEC, chair, has hinted at the possibility of extending the registration deadline! I believe this would still not be enough! The machines provided do not seem to be enough. And Professor Jega, seems not to be aware.
There is a deeply entrenched voter apathy, they believe the elections will not be fair, that no matter what they do, and how they vote, the final outcome of the elections, would not be their will!
These are legitimate fears that cannot be glossed over, or dismissed, they have been validated by our immediate past history.
It would be sad if, with all the money spent on the exercise, and the sacrificing of one month of our children's education, the whole exercise ends up as a well choreographed lesson in deception!
President Jonathan, in his Facebook post, has asked Nigerians to be patient, that nothing good comes easy.
I find that laughable, because registration of voters is the easiest part of the electoral process. What he is indirectly admitting, is that what other leaders, and nations, find easy to do, is difficult for him, and the Nigeria he presides over! Platitudes,and mollyfying statementswill just not do! He has told us he is capable of returning this nation to greatness; this is the first mock exam we are giving him, and he is already giving us excuses!
The next logical question is "If we are experiencing this degree of difficulty registering, only God knows the level of anguish awaiting us on election day!
You should try and register, it is your civic duty, and an opportunity to effect change! If you are denied that change at the polls, your vote might count when the courts decide!
As you do so,
MAY GOD BLESS NIGERIA,OUR NIGERIA,FOREVER!