Bureaucracy of voter registration
Sir: Recently, I was at the Shomolu INEC office. Residents, mostly youths, wanted to obtain their PVCs so that they could at least have a say in the systemically structured gerontocratic – or more lately “delegatocratic” (a system of electing delegates to run the democracy of a country) – process of Nigeria.
Because I was part of the process, I deeply felt the pain, anguish and embarrassment residents were subjected to. Some of them had come as early as 4 a.m., while others had come as early as 5 a.m., to register for the PVC, only to discover that some names had been written for others.
Especially as we are in the rainy season, the sight is the more awful to behold as voters queued perpetually on the pant-soaking rain. It was disgusting watching registrants throbbing and climbing from one spot to another to get registered for the PVC as though their life depended on it.
Some of the residents claimed they had left their businesses for good two days and yet were not registered. Others had denied themselves of sleep for two or three days always going and coming back. A few others complained of a potential suspension or sack from work – yet apparently they were still not going to be registered.
Another registrant, female, whose husband came later looking for her after the strenuous and serious delay, inevitably picked up words with the voting operators who blamed her for coming to register this year and not last year. This was about 3:45 p.m. when the officials announced they were closing for the day.
Are residents really getting the PVCs to vote in the forthcoming general elections? Not really. To be sure, those who are parents are getting the PVCs simply because of their schoolchildren’s admission requirements. Others are getting the PVCs simply because of the “Nigerian factor,” where your PVC literally could be required for almost anything now. If care is not taken, one could lose a lifetime opportunity by not having the PVC, as of yet. Is that why we are suffering and smiling to get the PVCs, and not for its original reason? What a shame!
Getting the PVC should be as easy as anything imaginable. The so-called Nigerian factor spilling filth and stench in the symbol and dictum of peace, love, justice and unity we profess to have. Heavy sanctions should accordingly be imposed on partisan officials registering potential voters. Vote casting should be closely monitored to prevent malpractice and if eventually there are slight anomalies, such votes should be discredited.
Segun Ige is a freelance journalist in Lagos.