By Ebele Orakpo
Nigerians I hail una oo! Ha, we are always devising new methods of doing negative things and undermining our beloved nation,” said Joe, a commuter in an Obalende-bound bus, this Thursday afternoon.
“Of course! Are you just realising that? By the way, in what area have we done the innovation, definitely not in science and technology?” asked Akin.
Replied Joe: “The latest method of rigging in town is disenfranchisement. Thank God for the postponement, otherwise millions of registered voters would not have been able to vote.”
“So the disenfranchisement was deliberate?” asked Ify.
“Yes, from what we are seeing now, it is deliberate. I have seen three people who went several times to get their Permanent Voter’s Card, PVC, without success. Later, they were called on phone and asked who they would vote for and if it is the candidate they favour, they would ask them to come get their cards,” replied Joe.
Said Helen: “Yes, in fact, a friend told me he went to pick his and he was asked who he would vote for. He said the question annoyed him and he told them his candidate is not their business. When they insisted, he told them that if they don’t give him his card, he’d make trouble for them. That was how he got it.”
“Ah, he was lucky. My friend said a colleague of hers had told her that he saw her card so she went. On getting there, they asked for her name and when she told them, they said her card was not there! She said she wanted to really abuse them but held herself because they may gang up and beat her up,” reported Mary.
“Hmm, but that is stupidity. I may tell them what they want to hear so as to get my card and on election day, I vote for my choice,” said Ify.
“Well, it may not work that way. What I suspect is that as you tell them what they want to hear just to get your card, they will write down your particulars as having voted for their candidate so that even if you vote for another candidate on the election day, they would be counting it as a vote for their candidate. If their candidate loses, they will cry foul and before you know it, innocent people will lose their lives again,” said Jude.
“But who are those calling people and asking such questions? Are they INEC staff?” asked Helen.
Replied Akin: “I doubt it. What I suspect is that some INEC staff compromised by handing over the cards to one of the political parties to ensure only those who will vote for their candidate get the PVCs.”
“That’s dangerous. So how on earth are they going to ensure free and fair polls? There is need for investigations into what is going on with PVC distribution,” said Mary.
“In some places, there were reports of people collecting people’s cards in exchange for money,” said Akin.
“The only way out is to allow the use of the temporary cards by those who could not get the PVCs,” said Joe.
“Why is it that people can only vote where they registered even with the PVCs and card readers? Why must people go to where they registered to vote with all the so-called improvements?” asked Helen.
“I wonder. So many questions for INEC to answer. I hope the card readers will not pack up in the middle of elections; you know in Nigeria, anything is possible. What about the fake ink? Has it been sorted out? I hope all these are sorted out before the March date,” said Ify.