Monday, December 08, 2014

PU 016- Lekki 1

My attempt to register to vote in the 2015 general election has given newer insights into the collective mindsets of Nigerians. With this understanding, and all I want to do is throw my hands up and surrender. First thoughts are where does one start with addressing the issues we face? 
I went to register on Saturday  and I was impressed by the number of people waiting to register. As at the time I left- about 1pm, there were about 300 names written but no INEC official to register anyone (Registration should hold between 8-4).
Today I resumed the quest to vote at 2.30pm and it was full of drama

Act 1, Scene 1
People struggled to write their names and get ticket so they can join the queue and register- apparently, if you were willing to pay or was  brash you could buy or browbeat your to  the capture point.People lashed out at guy handing out numbers. He left  to come back about 30 minutes later- everyone needs a break.  The process of issuing tickets stalled. After a while, someone started selling tickets, and the polling unit turned violent, some guys began fighting each other and some bystander police officers intervened. After hustling for over an hour, I finally got a number and proceeded to the point of capture.

Act 1, Scene II
There were two INEC officials registering residents on two lines. I joined a queue and when I noticed we were stationary,  I went to the front to check what was happening. I was told by a resident we had   hustled together that there was no queue, people were shunting and I should stand beside him. From that point, people pushed and shoved to get in front of the registration official and series of fights broke out. At a point, some thugs came with wooden sticks to scare people into running away to form another line- they succeeded but those on the main queue came back and refused to budge. Registration at the desk stalled. At the other desk, people pushed and shoved and the same area boy began to bring people who had dropped something to register. Those on the queue protested but their protest was in vain.Things never calmed down. People continued to jostle, push and shove to get registered till the officials signed out at 5:50pm.

What led to the signing out? The INEC driver came to pick them and one lady who had wrestled her way to  register picture would not print. The printer malfunctioned when it got to her turn and people begun to joke that she had a "bad head". She got up for someone else to register and the person was able to do hers successfully, she sat and the system went off. Then the jokes began.

The takeaways from that experience has made me ask questions like:

1) Why we treat ourselves like animals that have to be shoved and beaten. Why are we  unable to be orderly and just do things the right way. The registration process itself was simple and would not take more than 5 minutes. However, because people refused to be orderly, nothing was done and we ended up going home without registering. This is similar to the way we drive and cause needless traffic because people are impatient and would not give way for other drivers.
2) Why do we need to lie to get ahead. Some people claimed to have brought and fueled the generator used to power the capture process.  This  was false. People had excuses/ reasons why they should get priority registration
3) The major causes of the fights that broke out were  the result of a 'we-them' mentality. At a point it became a case of 'you think because you are rich, are educated or  dress well think you can intimidate me'. The "rich" and the "poor" began to  exchange words and threw jabs at each other. If the proletariat can openly put each other in a caste, what hope do we then have?
4)If we channelled the vehemence and brute force we use  on each other to hold our governments accountable, we will be better off now. That belief that we must  be assertive, be feisty, that we must shout to get what we want explains why we  are uncivil to each other.  Try talking to a junior officer say a security man, and the first instinct is to shut you down.

As a country we have a long way to go. Where do we start? Which do we start with?

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