BY PETER OJO
THE April Fool’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways around the globe. Reports suggest that the most widely held belief is that it originated from France in the 1500’s during the reign of King Charles IX. During the sixteenth-century, France changed its calendar by moving its New Year’s week, March 25 – April 1, to a single day on January 1.
This move was made, according to sources, at the request of Pope Gregory XIII. The Pope requested that a new calendar be made, the Gregorian Calendar, to replace their old Julian Calendar in order to match the Roman’s calendar. Those who had not gotten word yet of the holiday’s date change or refused to change their traditional ways would continue to celebrate the New Year during Spring and thus be deemed as “April fools”.
Today April Fools is celebrated in different countries around the world on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognised and celebrated as a day when many people play all kinds of pranks at the expense of their friends and neighbours.
The day is marked by the commission of good-humoured or otherwise funny jokes, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, vote for their parties and leaders to the National Assembly, started trooping out to the polling booth for the accreditation of their names which according to the time-table will begin from 8:00 am to 12 noon and the voting proper will begin from 12.30 p.m.
There was news in the air that people were not be able to be accredited because their names could not be found in the voters register. In the same vein people complained that INEC officials failed to report at the polling booths.
Professor Jega apologised to all Nigerians for the aborted National Assembly elections, saying that the failure of the INEC to conduct the elections on April 2, was as a result of late arrival of sensitive electoral materials, including the result sheets as well as logistic lapses caused by the inability of the contractor to deliver the material on schedule.
Happily, the National Assembly elections were eventually conducted on Saturday, April 9. Good enough, INEC’s performance was widely lauded as a compensation for the disappointment of that Saturday April 2, as it stands as a testimony that credible elections are possible in Nigeria.
Mr. Ojo is a staff of Vanguard Newspapers.