Registering to vote in Nigeria
Last Week I managed to register to vote in the April General Elections in Nigeria. It was no mean feat. For more than two weeks I tried to do so without success. I tried to register in my area of residence, Rumuobiakani, Port Harcourt but there was no machine allocated to my neighborhood. I got to understand that some influential persons wanted their own spots covered so the allocation of machines was reshuffled at the last moment. I tried to go to GRA where it was rumored the line was not excess and the machines were working and the handlers were dutiful but there was the snag that I needed to manufacture a fictitious address to address my case or the machine will not bulge; that s if I manage to get myself into the line and get my name into the list and come the following day to receive a piece of paper authorizing the minders to go ahead to register me for me to go elsewhere to laminate it.
The odds did not end here. If I am lucky the machine's weak memory will take less than 5 minutes to get itself back on track after each command. But then don't take it for granted that your finger prints will be accepted .Sorry, not exactly your fingerprints, it includes your paw, all the fingers but of course ,thank Heavens, excluding your leg fingers. After this huddle you have to proceed to put down your name manually with another officer where your real thumb is dipped into the blue ink for verification and printed. Maybe this last one is necessary especially where the machines disappear or the motherboards take a walk or the data gets corrupted. I may be impressed but not registered. At last I decided or was forced to realize that this was an uphill task because I could not imagine falsifying my home address to get registered.
Just when I was giving up hope, there was another light at the end of this tunnel. I tried to grab it with both hands. Again it disappeared. Someone hinted me that the nearest Street of St Andrews had was a viable option to far away GRA and I didn't need to tell a lie here to register. However, and this is not for the public, it would have been easier if you were indigene. No, no, don't get me wrong here it is not in the regulations. It was not even mentioned to be fair to them but it hung in the air.” It is more or less a help to get you registered among this community…” So considering that I was not too keen on this help I decided to travel home to Uzuakoli in Abia State to register amongst my village people.
Arriving Uzuakoli, I was greeted with a flurry of posters. On closer scrutiny I discovered that most of these posters were not up for elective positions but were obituary notices. Two schools open for registration, out of many approved and people were literally sleeping there. The others were expecting machines and computers. It was only two days to closing period before the last extension notice and you could see desperation in faces. Some of these people were party hustlers; one of who blamed' “prominent people “for insensitivity thereby giving room for political machination of “non Uzuakoli 'people to determine the fate of the people in this election. I tried to get clarifications. It was rumored that there was a conspiracy to minimize the no of registered people in the town was a political strategy by those who expected to lose out here.
As the decision to wait it out at the Practicing School was being taken, news came that the materials and men had commenced duty at Amuhi village near my home, Ndagbo, so we rushed there to take our place in the line. My luck had truly held out for I had dreamt of getting back to Port Harcourt same day. The youths were anxious to know where my loyalty lay in the new dispensation. They expected me to have joined the race. I was suddenly put on the defensive here. Unable to keep my views to myself here I assured them that I would vote for candidate of my choice irrespective of the parties and urged them to do like wise. I tried to explain that this stage the parties had done their constitutional job of giving us candidates it is our chance to make the best of what we have to help our selves. I urged them to register and vote for any candidate of their choice for their future depends on this choice. It did not matter now the party. For those complaining of dislike for parties, well we need them for the constitutional purpose of selecting candidates. There is no other way than their imperfect way. Now we must cease the moment and regard the process as starting afresh. Close your eyes to the monumental manipulations before hand and demand programmes, debates from candidates. Judge them according to what they can say they will offer even in the imperfect environment. Those who fail to make tangible promises cannot be held accountable by you spiritually or physically.
As you vote realize the enormous responsibility you bear. With your vote you determine your spiritual circumstance in the next four years. You weave the carpet of the path you must follow. It does not matter if your candidate loses since you may become spiritually unburdened by it. On the other hand voting for the winner may not ensure you the enjoyment you deserve because you endorse his tactics and the law guarantees that you reap spiritually the first fruit of the tree you planted in its true nature. Do you notice that it is the person you claim to 'help' that deals with you severely. These laws cannot change because every one needs a ready shooting target and your proximity without strong cause provides it. The reason is that often what you regard as 'help' may not be help but undeserved up-liftment. So in doing so you break the natural law that must through the person fulfill itself. Be careful whom you vote for, this is a spiritual age. What it means is that you may suffer same or more torments meted to others spiritually even if you occupy a high office. Most people that voted this way in 2007 only tied their destiny to the weal and woe of the President they elected. Some of them are still frequenting spiritual homes trying to untie themselves from the paralyzing situation. It's your choice, but my advice is that you do not refuse to vote for the consequences may not always be sound since you make up Nigeria and should help determine her future which is also your future. One can of course abstain when physical harm may result from it; in that case you decide that the adverse effects may be swallowed by the other threats. But the consequences of every choice remain at different levels at the very least.
When I stopped speaking some of them were dosing off. The line had gone on without us and the officials were calling us to take our place. It was my turn at last. I went through the rituals until my last finger held out for a while almost bringing uneasiness amongst those waiting. If it was rejected, then I would have to find some replacement in order to vote in the elections t hey continued to assure me it was normal, that I was luck because for others it was all the fingers and that was how they stayed away for good. So we waited and prayed. I continued to turn it up and down, east and west until it turned the light from red to green. At last I was registered to vote in April elections. The future is brighter now.
*Mr. Nworisara aspired to be President of Nigeria in 1992