Jan 29, 2007

INEC Registration Exercise. Have you registered?

After hearing rumours that the voter's registration card would soon become a meal ticket for certain privileges in the nation (including but not limited to allocation of contracts, incorporation of new companies, application for passports and driving licences, participation in holy communion! (OMG), etc) , I decided to go out and get registered. After all, the Lagos State government had declared a public holiday for the sole purpose of registration. Little did I know that my decision was just the beginning of the process ... and a process it was.

I drove round and round looking for a place to register to no avail. I even asked for the assistance of several malams - believe it or not, those malams know everything that goes on around them - but all I got was "Oga, we never see them today o, them dey under that tree yesterday, but them no dey there today". How frustrated I was. I was starting to believe that Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu (Ibadan PDP stalwart) was innocent after all. If registration machines were so scarce that I couldn't find even one in the whole of Ikeja GRA, then Adedibu couldn't possibly have found 6 (1,2,3,4,5 ... 6) fully functional registration machines to hide in his house. Definitely not. Or could he? But i digress...

Almost on the verge of giving up, I received a tip from an aunt of mine that some registration officials had been sighted on a street within the outskirts of the GRA. Being the patriotic nigerian that I am, I rushed off and was there in five minutes... and lo and behold I saw a group of people gathered round a tree. The crowd looked small from far off and I quickly alighted from my car to go join the "Queue" I could see, hoping within minutes, I would be able to count myself among the lucky "registered" Nigerians. Unfortunately, this was easier thought about than done. The long and short of it was that numbers had been issued out with the last number being about #200, the registration was currently on #65 and the whole process was so slow. In addition, there were those who had no numbers but through their relationship with some of the officials (brother, sister, cousin, sister's brother's friend, I don't know) were being treated preferentially and getting registered. Beside me stood a man with #88 and he told me he still had a long wait. Suddenly it dawned on me! I could sense the striking similarity of the situation to that which was prevalent at petrol filling stations just a few weeks ago - the queues, the double queues, the shunting of queues and overall rowdiness - and I remembered that I was always unlucky in the fuel queues. In fact, I once had to resort to buying fuel from the black market. Thinking about that, I would gladly have gone to the black market to register but unfortunately, such markets do not exist. What existed were the long queues, the overused equipment, the unfriendly crowd and equally unfriendly officials.

Needless to say, I beat a retreat, got into my car and drove off saying to myself "This is Nigeria - where struggle is necessary for survival". Thankfully, according to the Latin phrase (Aluta continua, victoria ascerta), even though the struggle continues, victory is certain ... and that victory comes one day, sooner than later.


Victory did come at last! I got registered. I was on my way to the place I found yesterday, when by a stroke of luck, I saw a group of people gathered around a corner (registering) and thankfully, this group was much smaller than that of yesterday. Of course I still had to wait for about an hour (anything less than an hour in this country isn't a wait) but what an interesting hour it was. Highlights of the day were
1. A lady whom the computer couldn't read her thumbprints and who had to scan her thumb about 6 times,
2. The generous owner of the borrowed Generator set who came back for her Gen. set (I don't blame her - the poor Gen had worked for hours)
3. The man who appeared from nowhere and decided his place was at the front of the queue and ...
4. The guy whose name was misspelled and his card printed with the error. That guy was ME!!! Of course I protested, but I was told that it had been corrected in the system and I could use the card like that ... and of course I refused (ODUOYA isn't the same as ODUKOYA). It was finally corrected and I went my way. Never a dull moment with the Lagos crowd!


Tayo said...

Bolaji Aluko is a respected columnist. Here is his article on the registration process. I couldn't resist including one of his pictures. :)

FunMe said...

Hi Tayo,

I must confess I was anticipating a successful outcome with a phrase 'I eventually registered'.
You mean after all the struggle.......eeyaa! pele.
All good things come to those wait patiently for the Lord.

Niyi said...

Pele o. Wow! it is amazing how hard it is to register in Nigeria. I wonder how difficult the actual voting process is then.

How are things? I just discovered your blog today.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tayo, I'm glad to hear that it's still ODUKOYA as opposed to 'Oduoya' (LOL). It's all good and like you said, ...victoria ascerta...
God bless,

Ben Gates said...

Great one you have here, I just came across your blog. Am inspired.

Let me comment on the INEC 1st. I am based in Port Harcourt and I didnt register until a day after the registration closure was postponed. And I cud only do it during my Lunch Time near my office. It took a hour and half to be registered.
As the April elections come close we pray for the best. Since the death was rumoured even before the demise of an aspirant.
U know we can stop being Nigerians.
I love Nigeria o jare.

Tayo said...

Thanks a lot for your comments. Ben, how u dey? I didn't know the registration was crazy in Port Harcourt too. God help us during this elections o. Hopefully all will go well.