Ezy, hurry up, let us go. We are late. My mother called out for us to go exercise our franchises as patriotic citizens of our beloved country, Nigeria.
I heard over the radio that accreditation of the voters card by the card reader would begin by 8am. “Is it not African time?” I muttered to myself. Anyway, as an obedient daughter, I hurried and we left by 8:45am.
As I got to my supposed polling zone, not totally to my utmost dismay because I expected it, people were waiting but no INEC officials yet.
I waited alongside others who were mostly old men and women. I wondered where my fellow youths were. Could it be because I was in the village? By now, my mother had left for another polling zone.
As the woman discussed while I eavesdropped, all I heard were gossips about their fellow women who belonged to different parties and how money and bags of rice were embezzled without any getting to them, how one political party gave each person #500, while the other party doubled it to #1000.
I said to myself, “today must be interesting. Na so e dey dey?”
By the way, this is my first participation in national election. Not that I just became eligible to vote o… hehehehe but wasn’t available to vote in 2011.
The women started checking their voters card to be sure the venue was their zone. I checked mine as well only to realise I was just a JJC (Johnny Just Come)…. Lol. I was at the wrong polling zone. Maintaining my cool, I enquired about my venue and took off. Luckily, it was just a stone throw.
Getting to my zone, there was already a long queue. By now the sun was up. Na suffer head today o. There were youths here. I waited patiently for my turn. Everywhere was calm. I was quite impressed thinking the rest of the day would remain so.
After about 2hours, my card was accredited. It was 11am now and accreditation was meant to be over by 1pm. I wondered what to do for the next 2hrs as I was literally alone among “strangers” and my phone battery was dead.
I set off to an open nearby bar to charge my phone and ordered a drink. When my phone came on, oh no, poor network. I sighed and resorted to my candy crush game while battling drowsiness.
“Computer, na you dey sell?” a middle aged man asked me. “Computer”, because I was on my phone. No, I replied. With him were three other men. They ordered drinks while one lit up a cigarette. I didn’t mind being a passive smoker at the moment. I listened as they argued over the election. I relocated for security reasons back to the polling zone.
It was now 1pm. The queue remained long. I bought some groundnuts and found shade among ladies discussing. Pretending like I was not interested, I heard how someone was given #50,000 to share but gave them #20,000 instead, how money was given to people ranging from #1000 to #3000 from different parties. They had story for everyone that passed in front of them. Na wa o. I be real JJC o.
Enjoying myself, my mum called that it was time to vote. It was 2:30pm.
We queued up again but this time, all gentlemanliness and ladiness were gone. People became aggressive, struggling to fix themselves into the line. We waited and waited and waited in the very tight line that can expel everything within you through all orifices. The sun didn’t help, neither did the odour from the person behind me. I was literally dying but my mum encouraged me to hold on… Lol
Someone came to us and announced to vote for a particular party 3/3 (reminding me of my 4th mbbs result) and get #3000. Was I shocked? I used to hear, but now have seen. Some accepted, saying “Nye m ego ka m la (give me money let me go)” while a few shouted that people should vote according to their consciences and not for money.
Windows of our polling hall were opened and people started jumping in through the windows. Agents kept on campaigning. All the radio threats were mere stories in my zone. No security, just a female civil defence.
The rest of us shouted for the door to be opened to vote accordingly. Those behind started pushing that my tiny self was almost crushed. I alerted my mother that I wanted to go. She said I shouldn’t. Disorganisation was topmost. Non INEC, non security officers, some political thugs controlled what happened instead.
The door was opened, people pushed and pushed, I forgot everything about who or what I’ve become and remembered my skills back in secondary school days when we struggled for food.
I put my wristwatch into my bag, struggled my way through the door, temporarily cutting the hand of my bag which I fixed afterwards . Chai. Thanks to my Aba_made sandals which sustained an extreme pull without cutting. I give it up to Aba_made. It wasn’t easy struggling with people who have spent most of their lives feeding on solid fufu. Jeez, I saw hell.
Getting into the hall, there was real chaos. People almost fought. INEC officials suspended the voting until there was a mild control. It got to my turn.
Before the election, I jokingly told my brother that I was going to vote any other party besides the 2major parties.
When I got the ballot papers, I dipped my thumb into the ink, then took out same hand in search of the party I wanted. Mistakenly, the ink got imprinted on CPP. Damn, it could not be undone.
Which party is CPP, kwanu ? After all my struggle, is this it?
I sighed and walked away wondering if I would come out for governorship election after all the energy expenditure and corruption both heard and witnessed.
I wondered if my vote will count.
I wondered if money will remain in Nigeria if these money distributors eventually win in order to recover.
I wondered if Nigeria will ever have an election of voting for who deserves it best with the kind of mindset my people have (the-highest-bidder gets-my-vote mindset).
Well, I won’t stop praying for a better nation. Let the will of God be done.