By Segun Ige

AS we grapple with high prices of bread, which is perhaps Nigeria’s most staple and flexible food, it’s important we don’t lose sight of the present political undercurrents potentially shaping the country into what the next four years would look like.

First, the fact that old faces are yet surfacing in the contested nationhood shows a gross backsliding in our democratic modus operandi. Gradually, gerontocracy is eating deeply into the fabrics of all-inclusive governance, even becoming stale with the installation of “delegatocracy,” which has stalled away many potential, competent and vibrant leaders.

Secondly, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring accuracy in vote collation and vote counting from ward level up to the national level, has a lot to do. To prevent ‘placeholding,’ ‘spaceholding,’ and ‘vote-buying,’ the Commission has to be purged from all uncleanness in discharging its duty without fear or favour.

The media, by and large, is fraught with vote-buying commentaries. But I’m sure that if there is no ‘vote-selling’, there obviously won’t be vote-buying. So who are the vote-sellers?

The vote-sellers are the people who have completely disregarded the voter power in putting the right person in power. The vote-sellers are people who have come up with different doctrines and neologisms, including ‘BATified,’ ‘ATIKUlated,’ and ‘OBIdient,’ which all the more put the potential sincere vote-caster at the risk of political gimmick, vote onslaught, and voter slaughter.

Thirdly,  some days ago I was at the Shomolu INEC office. Residents, mostly youths, wanted, come what may, to obtain their PVCs so that they could at least have a say in the systemically structured gerontocratic – or more lately “delegatocratic” (a system of electing delegates to run the democracy of a country) – process of Nigeria.

Because I was part of the process, I deeply felt the pain, anguish and embarrassment residents were subjected to. Some of them had come as early as 4 am, while others had come as early as 5 am, to register for the PVC, only to discover that some names had been written for others.

Especially as we are in the rainy season, the sight is the more awful to behold as voters queued perpetually on the pant-soaking rain. It was disgusting watching registrants shoving and jumping from one spot to another to get registered for the PVC as though their life depended on it.

Some of the residents claimed they had left their businesses for good two days and yet were not registered. Others had denied themselves of sleep for two or three days, always going and coming back. A few others complained of a potential suspension or sack from work – yet apparently they were still not going to be registered.

I learnt that five Voter Enrolment Devices for biometrics and capture were brought into the INEC office, but that three VEDs had been given to some wards. “This,” one security man disclosed, “is part of what is slowing down the process”. The security official also stated that the terribly bad weather condition had been seriously affecting the smooth running as online pre-registration would have to be done for residents who had not done theirs before coming to the INEC office.

One male registrant, who was fiercely kicking against impartiality, alleged that one of the INEC officials collected bribe from one registrant.

Another registrant, female, whose husband came later looking for her after the strenuous and serious delay, inevitably picked up words with the voting operators who blamed her for coming to register this year and not last year. This was about 3:45pm when the officials announced they were closing for the day.

Are residents really getting the PVCs to vote in the forthcoming general elections? Not really. To be sure, those who are parents are getting the PVCs simply because of their school children’s admission requirements. Others are getting the PVCs simply because of the “Nigerian factor,” where your PVC literally could be required for almost anything now. If care is not taken, one could lose a lifetime opportunity by not having the PVC, as of yet. Is that why we are suffering and smiling to get the PVCs, and not for its original reason? What a shame!

Getting the PVC should be as easy as anything imaginable. This will be in spite of the so-called Nigerian factor spilling filth and stench in the symbol and dictum of peace, love, justice, and unity we profess to have. Heavy sanctions should accordingly be imposed on partisan officials registering potential voters. Vote casting should be closely monitored to prevent malpractice, and if eventually there are slight anomalies, such votes should be discredited.

Meanwhile, we can manage around the exorbitant prices of bread hitting N1,000. Those who love to consume it in large quantities because of the nature of their work could conveniently opt for yam with beans. Yam with eggs would also do some good meal. How about potatoes with either of eggs or beans? We would soon discover the permutations matching our ideal bread-oriented diets.  

Ige, a  Lagos-based freelance journalist, wrote via: [email protected]

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