Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Itinerary (Part 2)

I didn't complete the narration of the events of the 27th of January (oops, I just realized I wrote 26th in my other post), here is the remaining bit.

On getting home at about 2.30pm that day, I headed to an INEC registration center close to my house (I had been there before but couldn’t register then). I met quite a crowd. I observed while I waited. The INEC Registration Officer (RO1) was not around, but her assistant, RO2 was there. She told me the RO1 had gone for lunch and would soon come. I then asked why she wasn’t continuing the registration (she just sat there). She replied that she didn’t want the RO1’s trouble in the sense that she might claim she has mismanaged the laptop or fingerprint reader. They obviously were having the female petty squabbles. I was mad. They obviously don’t know what is at stake. I began talking to her and explaining the importance and urgency of the registration. She later picked up some courage to register one Hajia who was next but the system hung and she had to restart it again. There were two women who were “coordinating” the affairs of registration at that centre as I observed. They obviously were the ruling party agents (one of them later admitted that to me) as they tried to push their candidates forward to be given “numbers” for later registration. What they do is come early enough (diligence) and rally their party supporters to come and register. From what I observed, many of their supporters register before any other. The other woman and a young guy picked up a fight. The two know each other (I gathered from the way they exchanged words) and they were on opposing teams. The guy was a party agent for ACN. They almost resorted to blows. I and some others around managed to quell the duel. The time was about 4.00pm, yet the RO1 was yet to be back from lunch. I asked the two women, what their positions were, INEC officers or what? One answered ehn ehn, em, em yes. I knew I had got to her. She obviously had taken some money and is really doing the money’s worth of the job. The young guy (and 2 others) and myself later got into a discussion about national issues. They clamoured that change was required in the state and the whole nation. (I was excited to hear young people speak like this). They seemed informed of events. One of them is a student of TASUED (Tai Solarin University of Education). He told me that the school fees was N103,000. He seemed to be able to equate this to the performance of the government of the day. We all agreed that the government was not doing the citizens good and a change was urgently required.

At about 4.30pm, the RO1 came. I scolded her for taking so long (I know her) and told her that the task at hand is an urgent and very important one that requires sacrifice from them (the youth corpers). I also tried to explain the impact of her absence to the progress of the registration process. Many willing persons will not be able to register even after the one week extension. After she settled in, she began the registration of the Hajiya who the RO2 could not complete for. The Hajiya had Laali (local tattoo) on her fingers and the palms. It took almost10minutes just to finish with her. The next person started and before long the laptop began to freeze. The RO1 complained to me that whenever it gets hot, it does that. She claimed that if not for the slowness and freezing of the laptop, she would have done more than the number (about 30) for that day. I advised that she raise the laptop a little to allow for air to blow through to the processor which she did with the stamp pack. She told me about a centre where the people had to get an ice pack under the table so that cool air can go up to the machine, I shook my head in disbelief. With the kind of budget INEC had, these were eyesores. Anyway, the deed is done, (for now) we have to do what we can with what we have. Each person took an average of 6mins to complete the process. I got registered at about 5.20pm. Afterwards, I told the people present that I needed to inform them before I took my leave. I first of all told them that I did not belong to any political party and haven’t come to campaign for any but rather to challenge them to nation building. I asked a simple question; “does poverty know a particular race, religion, tribe, culture, state?” to which they responded in the negative. I challenged them to ask questions from informed people before making a choice of who to vote for. I challenged them to look at the current leadership in the state and the nation and decide that they would love for the situation to continue or rather look to change. I made the example of the TASUED student who has to pay that much for just one session. I asked if there were many parents who could afford that. Many shook their heads in response. The young guys were quite happy (I could see their faces) that someone was “giving it” to them. I asked them what the Ankara, bags of rice and money will do to alleviate their conditions on the long run. I tried to explain to them that any politician who seeks to give money or materials is not worthy of their votes and they should take note of it. I told them that they do this for their children and children’s children. I warned them that the effects of collapse of society as a result of bad leadership will be traced to them if they know to do and refuse to make the required sacrifice. I urged them to avoid greed which can only fill their tummy “for a short while” while the long term consequence will bit real hard. I enjoined them to desist from being used as politicians’ tools when indeed the politicians’ children are not available for the violence which we usually witness before, during and after elections. I told them that most of their kids have been placed in safe havens as UK, US, Germany and the much saner societies either for schooling or work. A man suddenly rebutted that we have been struggling with all of these for a long time. I responded quickly that we are the ones who will make the change and until we know this for sure, it won’t happen. I told them that the corrupt politicians will try to preach “impossible” to us so they can continue to repress the common man. I urged them to dare to believe in possibility making example of Lagos. Many nodded their heads in agreement and mumbled some words to support their agreement. I asked them if they had imagined that the transformation in Lagos was possible, many said no. I then explained to them that the issues which seem so complex in Nigeria are because the corrupt leaders want them to remain so. I cited Ghana as an example of an African country which enjoys 24hrs power and told them that it’s not as difficult for PHCN to replicate if only sincere people are in the positions of power. Looking at the category of people who I spoke to, I broke things down to simple things they could relate to and I spoke in Yoruba Language (I speak it well mind you). The two women looked guilty (I could sense their silence and look of guilt as I looked in their directions to emphasize a point). I ended with the words “Olorun a fun wa se” meaning “May God grant us ability” and many said “Amen”. As I made to leave, one of the women called me aside to ask how I can be contacted. I told her I would come around some other time. She would have reasoned to herself that I would make a good instrument for her party, I thought to myself. If only she knew…… I went away feeling justified that I have done something (albeit small) about what I know is the way forward i.e. educate misinformed electorates, encourage, challenge and urge people for a better society, a better nation. I know that the only reason we are still where we currently are is because many still look to doing this kind of thing as shameful, not necessary, taking it too far, not minding one’s own business. I tell you if this nation will become what we wish it would, we won’t mind our own business when it comes to these sort of issues but rather join hands together to mind the business of the nation and put our monies where our mouths are (I’m tired of just talking about the problems) and stop lamenting and repeating the tales of woes which have become everyday occurrence in our society. If the ones who know to do keep quiet, then we have our conscience to bother with in the end.


  1. What an
    We need social evangelist like you.

  2. I saw the RO1 on the 10th of Feb (didn't see her after the day I registered) and I received a very positive feedback. She said she was challenged, encouraged and impressed for the day. She told me how the discussion continued long after I had gone. She went on to say she has started educating her corper colleagues also about the way we can achieve change. Little by little