Apr 21, 2007

Nigerian Presidential Elections - My Voting Experience

Today is the day many people have been waiting for. It's the day of the Presidential Elections in Nigeria, and hopefully the day in which the fate of Nigeria's future will be changed, for better. I just returned from the election booth (if it can be called a booth) some minutes ago. It was the same place where I registered to vote a few months ago. It took two minutes from the time I got there to the time I cast my vote, and that was it ... yes it was as simple as that. Here are my observations.

The first observation was that the voting spot was quite devoid of people. If you read the registration process on my previous post "INEC Registration Exercise. Have you registered?", you'll remember that due to the crowd of aspiring registrants, I had to wait for some time before I could get registered. This situation was different. There was not a single voter in sight, contrary to the gubernatorial elections when the queues were very long (read Tolted's experience on her blog [here]) and some people did not get to vote. This lent credibility to a rumor that many Nigerians had decided to boycott the election due to a speculation that their votes would not count. (or be counted for that matter!)
There were several INEC officials in sight, so I presented my voters card (sorry voter's paper) to one of them and waited patiently while he scrutinized it. He then proceeded to check the voters register for my name after which he said to another seated official "INK HIM". I drew back unconsciously. How would they "ink" me? I hoped it was not some INEC slang signifying arrest of political miscreants ... one has to be wary during these election days. I was later made to understand that inking was just a means of marking my thumb nail so I couldn't vote again that day. "OK" said I, and I heaved a sigh of relief.

My voter's card was marked with an X, my name was ticked in the register, I was given the ballot papers and told to proceed to an isolated table in a corner some distance away. I opened the ballot papers and ALAS! I made another observation. There were no names on the papers. All that existed were party names. Although this had earlier been announced by the INEC (for reasons probably not unrelated to the Imo state gubernatorial election saga), I was still caught aback. Anyway, I knew my candidate's party and I thumb printed the space provided. While submitting my ballot papers, I noticed several discrepancies and saw several rigging possibilities. There was no record to show that I was the one who had voted and all that showed I had voted was a tick against my name in the register. I believe I should have been made to sign against my name on the register and then that signature compared to the one they had on record. In this case it would be easy for anyone to impersonate a voter and use the voter's slot (coupled with the fact that the pictures on the cards were noting to write home about in terms of quality). It would also be quite easy for the officials to tick names of absent registrants and vote on their behalf. This could fetch quite a number of votes considering the fact that lots of registrants did not show up. I personally saw lots of unticked names in the register, signifying that lots of people were yet to show up ... and this was already 3:30 pm in the afternoon (less than 2 hours to the end of voting exercise). I'm not saying that any of such activities did take place, those were just my observations about that particular voting center. I don't know what happened in other centers. There have been reports of people absconding with ballot boxes (bags) and some disturbances here and there. Also, this morning there was an attempted sabotage on the INEC office in Abuja. Thankfully, it failed. The story is captured on Linda's blog (available here). Adaure also has a post (available here) detailing other events that happened today.

The next few days will probably be a beehive of activities and post-election drama. I'll give more updates as time goes on. Right now, I'm eagerly awaiting the announcements of the results of the Elections and then I can say hopefully that we are at the Break .... of a New Dawn! Amen.

12 comments:

Splendour said...

In fact, I was also tempted to turn back when I was going to vote and didn't see the usual crowd. What happened to the faithful Nigerians that turned out en-masse last week? Anyway I managed to find the courage to complete the journey to vote and did cast my vote; hopefully it would make a difference.

imnakoya said...

These are very important observations, particularly the possibility of INEC officials and party agents thumb-printing for absentee registrants.

That there is a low turnout shouldn't be a surprise given what happened last week.

Omodudu said...

Great info you have here. This is what I expected from every blogger. God bless you.

akin aworan said...

I've been monitoring events from the UK, and my main concern is for my family. Everyone should do their civic duty, but from the feedback I'm getting, will it all be for nought?

Anonymous said...

As a friend of the Nigerian people, I wish you all the best for all your efforts. Great work!

Tayo said...

lol @ splendour. Hopefully, i'm real hopeful too.
@imnakoya. Yes oh. People seem to have learnt a lesson
@omodudu. Thanks for your comment
@Akin Aworan, so you didn't vote eh? Wetin u dey do for UK?
@Anonymous, thanks for your well wishes.
Tomorrow is the DDay. I hope Nigerians will be pleasantly surprised.

linda ikeji said...

I didnt vote Tayo and I'm not ashamed to say it.I was not too comfortable leaving my home after all the reports i heard on tv.i didnt feel safe going out.besides, i sorta lost faith in the system.sad right?

truth said...

I liked your analysis of the method used in identifying those who voted. There are obviously several loop holes in that ridiculously 'rig-able' system. I can only wait and watch like everyone else.....
.....oh no, I think I'll watch and pray instead.

Anonymous said...

Well what can we say , my street was empty, save some boys playing football and some adults watching instead of voting, but by the time i got to the polling booth , one of the boxes was full, i was like ahhahhah, who come vote since nobody came out to vote. Anyway The general attitude was " We don know who go win". May GOd have mercy,
Anyway Tayo good work, I am someone that knows you very well. I mean one on one o. At the fullness of time i will MANIFEST who I am.( MANIFEST - that should give you a hint ).

Tayo said...

@Linda, you see what you've caused now. Why didn't you vote?
@Truth, We've have seen the outcome. I wish I could say the results were not rigged.
@Anonymous, Manifest yourself quick o! Manifest eh ... hmmmm!
Anyway, thanks @All for leaving your comments.

akin aworan said...

Ol boy, you never sabi enter High Commission wey dey for UK?? Man, Don't get me started. I'm also very, very cynical: what would the odds be that my vote would even count?

jamal said...

Itll be interesting to see how this pans out.