The family went out to vote this morning. We saw a crowd of people at the Tantalizers near our place and pulled in there. Once there, we found out that there were different polling booths and that we were not all registered to vote in the same place. After returning home to get separate cars, we went back out again. I returned to the Tantalizers as that was my place to vote. And then the long wait began. I chided myself for not getting there earlier, but I heard from people who had been there at 8AM, as instructed, that the INEC officials had not yet arrived at that time.
Thank goodness the line moved (albeit very slowly) and there were interesting conversations going on around me to participate in and listen to. Of course, it became a hang-out as people ran into people they knew. It's funny with this Lagos, especially in neighbourhoods like Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki. You could live next door to someone for years and still not know who they are. If you do know them, you probably hardly ever see them. It takes an 'extra-ordinary' event like this to bring people out of their mini islands. Well, I am as guilty as the next person of doing this, so let me not talk too much....
As I moved closer to the front of the queue (These damned queues - I felt like I was a corper all over again. Even the sun cooperated in recreating the mood by beating down on our heads with cheerful ferocity.) people started complaining about not being able to find their names in the registers. This meant that they were not able to vote.
Na wa! Why is it always one thing after another? Just when we were all commenting that these elections were turning out to be so organised too....
An INEC official was found and she speculated on whether the officials had the complete list of voters' names. She then went off, accompanied by one of the voters just so she wouldn't abscond, to look for the missing names. In the interim, a new queue was formed for people who had tried to vote, but whose names were missing. I stayed on my queue and when I got to the front handed my temporary voter's card to the official. Fortunately, my name was there and he asked me to bring forward my left thumb so that he could mark it with ink. I moved on to the second official, who marked the inner portion of my voter's card and gave me the stamped and signed ballot forms. I then moved to a side table to select my candidates on the forms.
I don't know too much about the candidates for the state assembly, but decided to vote for the same party as my gubernatorial choice. The governorship forms displayed the names and photos of the candidates, as well as their party's emblem. I scanned for Jimi Agbaje's photo but could not find it. It took me a minute to eventually find his name. Hmmmm. Why was his photo not there? Yes, it's not a monumental task finding his name printed out on the form, but it does make it 1 step harder. Meanwhile, Fashola's face beamed at me from near the top of the form, making it so easy to spot (I guess they were arranged in alphabetical order by party name).
Anyway, so I put my thumbprint next to my choices and said goodbye to a friend who was waiting for the arrival of the missing names. She said she'd be there all day if she had to. I applaud her tenactity. Some people would just have gone home and derided the whole exercise as being inefficient and already rigged.
One thing I find and that really amazes me is a prevailing defeatist attitude. I've had more than a few people tell me that I was seriously wasting my vote. "You know either Fashola or Obanikoro is going to win anyway, so why bother voting for anybody else?" How about because I would like to select a candidate who I feel has a better-thought out plan for the state?
Another trend I observed was people leaving the country in the last week, because they thought there would be some violence during the elections. I don't get that. Isn't this our country? You leave and then what? You're going to have to return at some point. That there have been outbreaks of violence in the run-up to these elections is a fact that cannot be denied, but many of the people who have left the country, like a friend pointed out, live in areas not touched by the violence. And it is unlikely that the violence would spread to those areas. I have had lots of people tell me that after I vote I should just jejely return home, because there would be rampant violence, kidnapping and peoples' heads would be cut off. Such unnecessary hysteria! Anyway, let me get into the spirit of things..... Please let the federal government declare the whole of next week a public holiday. At least that way, the ne'er-do-wells won't readily find people to fight or kidnap.
PS: I just saw my sister, Ayoola, and Mom on TV (Silverbird TV). They showed my sister as she cast her vote. Then they were also interviewed by Wildchild and Aduare. You should have seen my sister and I screaming our heads off when we saw her on TV.