A Tale of Two Elections

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June 8 UK General Elections
I was in London during the recent UK General Elections that held on Thursday, June 8. I went into an office to do a transaction. The office happened to double as a polling station that day. While the office continued with its normal activities, the conference room was used as the polling booth. Voting commenced in the morning and ended at 10pm, to enable workers return from work in the evening, and still have ample time to vote. I only noticed about 4 electoral officers.

The voting exercise was so peaceful and orderly. You really wouldn’t have known that there was anything going on. There were no policemen and 500 polling agents at the polling station like we have at our local polling stations. No fanfare. You didn’t even need your actual voter’s card to vote. Once you register, your name is on the voter’s list. Your name is checked on the list, you cast your vote and put it in the ballot. Shi ke nan (that is that)!

Nigerian Voting
Unlike our dear country, Nigeria. I thought to myself as I left the office, when will we ever learn and get it right? The voter’s registration that took place in Nigeria prior to the 2015 elections, was rowdy. Voting itself was hell. If not that I was determined to vote, I would have just turned around and gone home. It was a nightmare. Apart from the electoral officials arriving at the polling station quite late (claiming that the transportation to convey them to the polling station came late), we had to queue in the sun for hours. On the 2 occasions that I voted, the obviously sub-standard card reader, failed and did not accept my fingerprints. I then had to join another queue for the manual voting, where my name was recorded on a list.

What am I trying to say? We Nigerians are exposed and travelled enough to be able to see how other countries that have trouble-free elections, carry out their voter’s registration and conduct hitch-free elections. I think that INEC’s extended voter’s registration exercise this time around, may be a step in the right direction. However, INEC still needs to study the system in countries like the UK for example, send their staff for proper training, and see how we can make our system better.

Sure, certain things that obtain in other climes, like sending the voter’s registration card by post like they do in the UK, may not work in Nigeria. Your voter’s card would probably be intercepted by unsavoury characters, who probably want to use it for ‘rigging’. But other positive aspects can be adapted to suit our own purposes.

Do we even have a functioning and efficient postal service in Nigeria? I never forgave the Nigerian Postal Service for stopping me from becoming a full Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK. I remember that I had joined the Institute as an Associate, when I was about 29/30 years old or so. I was not qualified to sit the exams to become a Fellow of the Institute till I was 35. However, at some point, the Institute decided to upgrade Associates to Members automatically. I received the letter for my upgrade, which I had to accept, in the post about 6 months after the deadline for acceptance had passed! It had taken over 6 months for the letter to travel by post from London to Lagos!

  • John

    i hope this is not the proverbial “Hand of Esau and voice of Jacob”. My dear Turaki Adamawa, what is the cause of these agitations? Everything has a motive which you failed to address.

  • Obi Ike Sorres

    This is one of the reason the country is called a zoo. We have made politics to be business instead of service. In U.K. Is service to citizens in Nigeria is business and domination.

  • RumuPHC

    Like most things wrong with Nigeria, a central electoral body organizing elections for the country is a bad idea .

    There is no ” INEC” in the U.K. Elections are local and conducted by local people for local people.

    The question we should ask ourself is why do we need the federal government to conduct elections for 500 people in a distant polling unit located far away from Abuja?

    If 500 local people are incapable of organizing a simple ballot then it may well be fair enough to consider whether such people really need democracy.

  • William Norris

    You are so far removed from the realities that govern the lives of the majority of Nigerians.

    Congrats.

    • the thinker

      U don’t want ONE NIGERIA abi? no problem. when Fulani man says you should leave the north una go start complain. dude, wetin una want? you’re confused?

      • Obi Ike Sorres

        You are the one who is confused. You don’t understand the thing he is saying. You are part of the problem and hindrance to restructuring.

    • Dan

      No, it is not. I respectfully disagree with you on that point.

      When PDP was in power and sharing the resources of the country blind, we never heard restructuring and all the rhetoric that you are spewing today. Tribalism, Religious sentiments and intolerance towards our fellow black man is the plague disturbing us and most African countries. The lack of a cohesive plan of national unity that is imbibed and followed by all is our bane of progress. The political elite, their families and children on both sides of the divide control the economy and enjoy its fruits while the common man is strangled in his ignorance & poverty to continue supporting their lifestyle. Too many hands they says spoil the pot. Nigeria’s democracy has witnessed too many experiments and tampering to be effective as other developed nations. But gradually we are making progress though not as much as we might like. It’s the hypocrisy of our Nigerian Youths who allows themselves to be used for pecuniary issues rather than engaging and taking their destinies into their hands that gets me worked up. After the Arewa Youths just did a mini conference, you now have Igbo leaders holding conferences and deciding to stay with ONE NIGERIA. But you never heard their voices when IPOB was heating up the polity. Get your acts together people.

      • William Norris

        * Religious sentiments and intolerance towards our fellow black man is the plague disturbing us and most African countries. *

        That’s not true. Tribalism & Intolerance are survival mechanisms and without them any people will DIE. Nigeria is not progressing because it is suppressing tribalism. The UK taught Africans that tribalism is bad precisely because they know it’s a powerful motivator for nation building. That’s why Europeans live in tribal nations and unashamedly express their tribal loyalties.

        *The lack of a cohesive plan of national unity that is imbibed and followed by all is our bane of progress. *

        Different tribes CANNOT subscribe to a common plan. The Igbo and the Yoruba are different in the same way the Scottish and the English are different. There has to be a FREELY AGREED separation of tribes for Africa to make some progress OR some of the stronger tribes have to wipe out the weaker ones. The Fulani are already giving us a foretaste of what is to come for Nigeria.

        *The political elite, their families and children on both sides of the divide control the economy and enjoy its fruits while the common man is strangled in his ignorance & poverty to continue supporting their lifestyle.*

        All or most of the “elite” were once part of the common man. The truth is that 99.9999% of Africans have abandoned their own humanity in pursuit of the wealth that OTHER RACES built up by HARDWORK.

        Christianity is a result of reforms to Judaism.

        Why haven’t Africans reformed their own religions? Instead they appropriate the hard intellectual work done by others. Which would be OK except that Africans themselves really don’t believe in the foreign creeds, they PRETEND to accept them for pecuniary reasons.

        The UK and USA that Africans so admire was a result of hard thinking and hard work, including such reforms as the Magna Carta and the American Civil War that abolished slavery. There is NO ORIGINAL African effort to build a society on their own terms, based on norms that the Igbo, Hausa, Zulu, Kikuyu or Wolof can be comfortable with, instead all you have are foreign systems that simply don’t work for the African temperment.

        * But gradually we are making progress though not as much as we might like. *

        The ONLY progress Nigeria has made has been through the implementation of PRIVATIZATION & DEREGULATION that was started by Ibrahim Babangida and revived by PDP. The ONLY sectors that work well in Nigeria today are those subjected to privatization & deregulation during the 16 years of PDP rule, except for the Yaradua interregnum.

        The stupidity of the Nigerian people is evident in their RESISTANCE to the privatization & deregulation of the fuel market in Jan 2012, at a time when Nigeria had the revenues to cushion the effects on the country. Like I said before, the PEOPLE are the problem, blaming the “elite” or “leaders” is cheap populism or shameless cynicism.

        Have a good day.