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Nafisa Atiku: Diary of a Disrungtled Nigerian Voter

Nafisa Atiku

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Phones fully charged; check.
Fully charged power bank; check.
Sneakers on; check.
One valid means of identification; check.
One bottle of sugar filled soda, most preferably coke; check.
Two packets of gala. Saving Nigerians in unbearable queues since forever; check.
One heck of an attitude; check.

It was the 13th of August and this was the week, I was going to get my Permanent Voters Card against all odds. I had already had nightmares of how hypocritical I would seem, after writing article week after week, telling people to register and when the day would come to cast my vote; I would be hiding out in my room with all my devices off stuffing myself with junk food because after all the writing, educating, sensitizing I would be guilty of the very sin I preached against. I wasn’t all that bad to be honest. I was already registered. I had paid my dues. All I needed to do was transfer my voter’s card to my present local government. Sounds easy right? You would be shocked.

First day, I strolled in at 10am and inquired of where I could write my name and wait on the line. I was met with a lot if incredulous reactions from people who said I had to come back the next day. Around 4- 5 am. To register. For my PVC. I could not believe it. Is it the waiting list to Heaven?? Apparently people started writing their names from 1am in the morning. I think it’s sensible to asssume that people actually slept there or something. Is this what people are going through to register to vote? To humour you, I still wrote my name. I was number 491. I had to leave because of work commitments and to be honest; I recognised a lost cause when I saw one.

Second day, I jumped out of my bed at 6:15 like I was being chased by armed robbers. I didn’t even bother to get hot water to bathe. It was now or never. Took a taxify straight to the INEC office in Ogudu and guess what; I climbed up a bit. Number 341. Second lost cause. The things I heard while I was waiting to be honest made me legitimately scared.

I realised the following things: young people are going to be deciding voters in the coming elections; secondly a lot of people are not aware of the credible alternatives amongst the presidential aspirants which points to a large vacuum in the community organising structure of many presidential campaigns. To be honest, the people who are going to vote are not on social media. Thirdly, many people do not realise the essence of a voter’s card; most people just want it as a valid means of identification. I met a man who was a civil servant who decried that Lagos State government had mandated its staff to acquire a voter’s card or risk their children not gaining access into the public schools. It’s just a sad situation.

On the third day, I was fed up. Haunted scenes of my last experience in trying to register for my PVC in Enugu state clouded my mind. I needed my PVC. It was a depressing state of mind to be honest. At least, today, the force was with me. I was number 25. Guess what time the INEC officials came? By 10:30. Apparently, environmental sanitation affects them too. To be honest; I wouldn’t exactly blame them. They had only two systems and were terribly understaffed. Not to mention, short on supplies. How was I sure in the same situation I wouldn’t do worse? Well, praise be to God I was able to put in my request for a transfer. I don’t dance normally, but I did a funny dance when I got back home for my people at home to see. I had a free conscience. I had performed my civic duty. I had truly practiced what I preached.

Honestly, INEC is not doing well at all, why they would still be using the same stressful process since 2014 for Nigerians to register for the voting exercise is beyond me. Then what on earth is the use of technology?

Honestly, the fact that this registration was this stressful is enough reason to make sure I vote on elections day. Any candidate, who is serious about reforming the electoral process, including making INEC technologically advanced has my vote.

Atiku Nafisa Emmanuella is a legal practitioner, public speaker, CEO of Kambi Hair Products and founder of NYouthSpeaks; a civic education platform that sensitizes Nigerian youth on critical national issues and through economic empowerment helps them to make a difference in their local communities. She is an advocate for young people in politics and this passion led her to become one the founding members of LASO Youths, an organization meant to inspire Nigerian youth to take responsibility for their nation. She is a 2018 Walter Carrington Fellow, a fellowship created by the US Consulate Lagos.

1 Comment

  1. She

    August 22, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Woke up by 4am nd went to write name for I and my parents, we were no 30-32,crazy things happen on that queue, one man came late and wrote his name as No 1 A, in all of these, patience is the key word, yes we know the equipments are slow and all but everyone wants to shunt and that doesn’t help, I registered around 10am but my parents got to register earlier as preference was given to elderly ones.

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