My election experience


The desire to cast my vote during the just concluded presidential election tested my emotions in more than one way.

We did not see INEC officials and their voting materials until around 1pm. And voting did not start until a few minutes past 2pm, as they had to go back to their office to get a new code for the BVAS.

Eventually, voting started and about three hours into the exercise, the female INEC official declared they would be closing at 5.30pm.

Two men (clutching bottles of whiskey in one hand and lager beer in the other) appeared from the crowd and asked, “Who said she wanted to end voting?”

Voting continued again!

What was evident was that the INEC officials underestimated the crowd that showed up for the exercise. And it overwhelmed them.

The exercise ended at 8.30pm and it ended that early because some of us converted ourselves to INEC volunteers.

When it was becoming dark, emergency contribution was made and money was raised immediately for fuel expenses, as someone brought his generator for use.

A nearby church lent us their public address system.

The chairs and tables that INEC officials used were brought from people’s homes.

People kept supplying them and those of us that were assisting them with refreshments.

You would feel a tap on your shoulder and when you turn around, someone had sent zobo drink, malt or water and biscuits your way.

Frankly, the gross incompetence of INEC makes voting a very frustrating experience! Most of us showed up at the polling unit as early as 7am but INEC officials did not turn up until afternoon.

People sat under the sun.

Some bought ‘pure water’ and shared with others.

Married men and women left their children at home to stay put at the polling unit to defend their votes.

Among the things that I will never forget about that day was the blind lady that was led to the polling unit by a man, who could be her relation.

Among the elderly that graced that polling unit was a woman that’s blind in one eye also.

My greatest pride came from the youth!

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Some made themselves useful as volunteers.

Others cracked us up with funny talks.

A lot bought what they could afford and shared.

There were also moments of madness.

I had never witnessed more organised security like I did on that day in my area.

If you were caught driving to your polling unit, you would be ordered out of the vehicle, which would be impounded by the police!

There’s a reason everyone is assigned a polling unit that’s within a walking distance.

As I looked at the crowd of young people at that polling unit and their efforts towards a new Nigeria, I knew that it was not a small lesson that they must have learned in the hands of woeful leaderships that had bedeviled the country.

I hope INEC sends more youth corpers (especially the males) on election duties.

They are more agile, hardworking, patient, polite and tech-savvy than the actual INEC officials that accompany them.

Something else I experienced…

The tension with which some people thumb-printed on their ballot paper was obvious.

Some were actually fidgeting. And that came from not wanting to make any mistakes at all.

They held the ballot papers like their life depended on them.

The audible sigh of relief after voting.

About 90% of the people that I met on that day did not even know those they were voting for as legislators and why.

How can most people in your constituency not know who you are, yet you seek to represent their interest?

Some people even thumb-printed on only the presidential ballot paper and refused to thumb-print on those of the lawmakers, claiming they did not know them! ,

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