In just six days, Nigerians registered to vote and in legal possession of permanent voters cards, PVCs, will file out at polling stations across the country. As these Nigerians bubble and happily look forward to the presidential election taking place on Saturday, February 16, some of their compatriots who would have eagerly filed out to vote, would painfully miss the opportunity to cast their votes for their preferred candidates because of different challenges.
One of such is Mr. Peter John, who is a spare parts dealer and an old member of the Jehovah Witness, a Christian sect. Falling back on the doctrinal teachings of his religious sect, he said: “We are members of Jehovah Witness, true followers of Christ; there is no sincere member of the Jehovah’s Witness that will go to the polling station to cast a vote because of our doctrine, belief and practice. True followers of Christ do not participate in worldly things like electioneering campaign and voting, Christmas, birthdays etc. We do not participate in such even though it is my responsibility to vote. We pay tax but do not vote.”
On his part, Ibrahim Abubakar, a guard attached to one of the new generations banks, said that the nature of his job would not allow him go to the polling station to perform his civic responsibility. “We, as security operatives in the Nigerian Army, Air Force and Police, do not vote during elections. Our duty is to guard and protect the lives of citizens and their properties during the elections.”
Until he got into providing tricycle taxi service, Mr. Isaac David, used to sell masts. David said that the two leading contenders, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have clearly shown that they are only ones really in a contest. Yet, David is not pleased with the situation of the country. He said: “Every year, the same people who we know their antecedents will be the ones contesting in the general election. Four years ago, I bought my tricycle for N280,000. Now, it costs N650, 000.00 but if you acquire on hire purchase terms, the cost is N1 million or more.
“A political party I do not want to mention shared a paint of garri, four packets of noodles and a N1200 to Okota residents where I reside; I threw mine at them and asked, “Is this all you can do for the people you are representing in four years? It also reminded me when Governor Ambode was contesting; his campaign train threw a ‘T-shirt’, which fell into my Keke Marwa (tricycle); I threw it back to them because that was not what we needed from our governor. The roads get worse as the days pass; Marwa operators groan under high taxes by the local council revenue operatives.
In her own remarks, Mrs. Kelly Unah said she would not vote because she practically lived at her registration centre in Mushin for three days, all in the bid to collect her PVC. “I was at Mushin for three days but could not get my permanent voters card (PVC). At the end of the day, hoodlums hijacked the exercise and imposed a fine of N5,000.00 each person that collected the PVC. I left in anger and could not collect mine till date. Since I do not have PVC, I will not vote.
Chilaka Ndukwe lost his job when the manufacturing company where he worked at Oba Akran Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, was closed down. He became a commercial motorcyclist, to survive. On what he would do on election day, he said: “I will not vote because, what we have in Nigeria are rulers and not leaders. When the former Lagos State Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola contested for the office, we followed him to almost all his campaign rallies. One of those days at Alausa, he used his right hand to give us gala and bottled water and with his left hand he collected our motorbikes and locked them up in Alausa.”
Ishola Owolabi, a furniture maker is full agreement with Ndukwe on the issue of voting: “I will not go near the polling station because election is concluded. There is nothing like election in Nigeria, what we have is selection. The chosen candidate has already been selected. Lagosians already know their president and governor. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu is automatically the next governor of Lagos State while Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is the outgoing governor.”
Chinyere Nkemakolam, a petty trader who is politically inclined, is not bothered about the election because she is convinced that her vote would not count as the parties have perfected ways to rig the election:
She said: “I started casting votes during elections in 1983 when I was a young girl in the East; but I have discovered that rigging makes nonsense of our votes. So our votes do not count. After queuing under the sun for hours, our votes as the masses will not count. So there is no need wasting my time. Massive rigging has beclouded our political history. We have not had free and fair elections for years, so there is no point stressing myself. The people we are going to vote for, will they and their families stand under the sun to cast votes? They will sit in the comfort of their homes and watch people groan under the sun struggling to cast their votes.”
A retired educationist, Dr. Mrs Ime Ekong, told Sunday Sun: “I do not know if I will vote or not because when you watch electoral processes and how they work in civilized countries, you will be ashamed of what we do here in Nigeria. If I can vote online or be guaranteed of my comfort and safety, I will be glad to do so, but if the voting requires me to queue under the scorching heat of the sun with boys wearing boxer shorts and singlet pushing me up and down, I doubt if I want to do that at my age. I have my PVC with me, but not sure if I will make use of it.”