Tag Archives: Nigeria

Is The Nigerian Voter’s Registration A Sham?

On Thursday, 27th of January, Agnes (not real name) woke up at 3:30am and quickly went through her morning ritual. Her normal wake up time was around 5.30, so understandably, she was yawning like a hungry lion in a Kenyan safari. Despite this, her movements took on a hint of urgency, and then, by 4:00, a hint of hysteria. She hurried out of her little apartment in Lugbe, and walked at a brisk pace, worried because of the dark and the lack of human activity on the dirt road from her house to her destination.
She breathed a sigh of relieve when she finally got to the corner store about 15 minutes later- she had met no drama on the lonely road, and there were only 5 people (3 men and a woman) standing around the store. She made small talk with them while signing her name on a list one of the men was holding. The sun hadn’t risen yet, so she made herself comfortable on a concrete slab, jacket wrapped around her, waiting for daybreak and the INEC representatives that were to register her so she could vote for the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.The Nigerian voters registration has been plagued with problems from the get go. Nothing much was reported to have gone wrong during the planning stages, but from current events, we have to conclude that several things did. I can’t say much about other cities, but in Abuja, if you wanted to get registered, you got to the registration site at around 4:00am and waited. If you decided to go back home and come back at 7:00/8:00am, you ran the risk of finding a whole other list, and so, you were back to square one.

Now don’t ask me why the list business came up at all. Why didn’t people just line up upon arrival? The list was simply complicating issues and giving people the opportunity to ask for bribe- notably the policemen and civil defense staff that were sneaking names into the list, or tearing earlier made lists up.

Then of course, is the problem of the Digital Data Capturing machines themselves. Most of them didn’t work. And if they did, you could bet on about 30 entries a day. A lot of people were on the line for 3 days. Last week, a girl fainted. Another was on the line for hours with her month old baby. A young lady was robbed early one morning on her way to register like Agnes. A few men went to the site early with mattresses. A Hausa man started adamantly claiming a girl’s name (Amaka) who was being called but hadn’t shown up, “I don stay for dis line for 3 days, why my name no go change?” he replied to indignant disbelieving shouts.

I believe all this confusion was caused by two main things: first, inefficient procurement processes, most probably characterized by skimming some money off the top, and so, ending up with DDC machines that look new, but aren’t. And second, the lack of foresight of INEC to see that it is virtually impossible to register millions of eligible voters across Nigeria in 1 month, 1 week, and 2 days. INEC, instead, should have started this process months ago to allow for machine testing and more registrations.

Thankfully, the voter’s registration will become a continuous process in any INEC office near you. But if you didn’t register, you can’t vote in this coming election. That’s a shame since, probably for the first time, awareness and willingness of the masses to vote in the April 2011 elections has been something close to awe-inspiring. Nigerians are believing that their votes will count, and that’s something special. Still, this registration exercise has been a sham, characterized by bribes, frustrations, rumors, and anxiety.

Photo Credit: We Heart It and Thisday Newspaper

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You’re The Leader you’re Ranting On and On About

Whenever you ask anyone what they think is wrong with Nigeria, you can expect one adamant robotic reply – ‘Our leaders!’ What they mean to say is ‘our government leaders’. They totally forget that everyone is a leader at different points in their lives. I know they forget because no one likes to say ‘hey, I’m the problem’.

The same people that say ‘our leaders are our problem’ are the ones jumping queues like everyone else is invisible; they’re the ones giving their kids money to ‘sort out academic problems’ cause everyone else is doing it anyway; they’re the ones padding their expense accounts and budgets like the mayor in ‘Cloudy with a Chance…’; they’re the ones…in fact, I could go on but I need to spare my fingers from all that typing!

Nobody seems to realize that WE are our nation’s problem. The root cause isn’t the system! Gather all government officials in one building and bomb them. The government that will replace them will still be just as bad, putting systems in place that are sure to turn us into a country fit for hell itself. We’ll only be replacing disease for disease.

It seems like such a hopeless situation, because the next generation that we can hope to replace this one, and make things better, is just as bad! Check out how much exam cheating goes on, as if all Nigerian youth have brains made of sieves. I wonder, do we have to wait till the next next generation for Nigerians to start saying ‘hey, I’m the problem’? I sure hope not, but that seems quite likely, and I may just be being optimistic.

Photo Credit: Miss Vintage Vixen

If The Chilean Miners Were Nigerian

The incredible story of the Chilean Miners who survived underground for 69 days, while people worked frantically to get them out, will remain with us forever. It will surely be a significant part of Chilean history. The engineering genius that went into the rescue makes me wish I had studied engineering…uhm, well, almost. Anyhow, their survival underground and the rescue efforts are to be admired.

Now, what do you think would have happened if 33 Nigerian miners were trapped underground? Here’s what I think: The media carries the story of how the mine unexpectedly collapses on 33 hardworking miners, covering the site of the tragedy. Some newspapers may publish the names of the unfortunate men and their widows are rounded up, ready for a solidarity visit from the president and his wife. They are in mourning, assuming that the men are already dead. Meanwhile, the trapped miners rot and wilt away the days, slowly and painfully.

If by some miracle authorities realize that the miners are still alive, the miners will rot and wilt away the days, slowly and painfully, anyway. First, there will likely be a struggle finding the ‘right friendly’ contractor for the job. Then it will be an excruciatingly long time before the money is approved and seen. Definitely, drilling and capsule construction will be ready way after the deadline. Meanwhile, ministers, governors, and traditional rulers will be paying curtsey visits to the president thanking him for a ‘job well done’.

The sad fact is that Nigeria is totally unprepared to handle any kind of unexpected crises, on any kind of scale- government simply cannot mobilize itself with any kind of efficiency or effectiveness. I cringe to think about it. I imagine any rescue effort we carry out will look like we’re a bunch of cavemen carrying sticks and ropes instead of FENIX capsules and complicated levers. Tragic!

Photo Credit: The Storque