Written By Onyinye Nwachukwu
As Nigeria’s 2022/3023 election season comes to a close, one cannot help but note how exhilarating it’s been. Earlier in the season, eventful primaries triggered an upsurge in energy and voter registration, particularly among youth. The emergence of a youth-propelled third force candidate in the person of the Labour Party’s (LP) Peter Obi allowed them to dream up endless possibilities of bringing sanity into Nigerian politics.
However, reality often differs widely from expectation, and the atmosphere was thrown into a sullen mood following the declaration of the election winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
There’s been running commentary online about how the results may have dampened the hopes and enthusiasm of young Nigerians. In a conversation with my mum and her friends over the weekend, we were left without any doubt that INEC had failed to deliver credible elections, especially with reports coming from Rivers state. We were dumbfounded at INEC’s audacity in declaring a winner following the stunts that were pulled that included manipulated results, voter suppression as well as threats to the life of the state’s collation officer.
[Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike / Premium Times]
While we’re still coming to terms with how INEC handled the presidential and national assembly elections poorly, let’s not forget that governorship and state house of assembly seats are still up for grabs. Citizen already explained here why the March 18 elections are essential.
If you need to know who is contesting in your ward, here is a list of all the candidates for Saturday’s elections. Look at it and get familiar with who best represents your interest.
Here’s a list of things you’d need to carry along as you prepare for the March 18 elections.
Election day must-haves
If you already have your PVC, here’s a list of things we believe you’ll need while exercising your civic duties.
Chances are, you’d be in a crowd, line, or small huddle. Whatever the case, you’d be in close contact with people. So remember to take a bath and not be the reason anyone wouldn’t vote for your candidate. A quick shower, mouthwash, and spritz of deodorant are advised—extra points for perfumes and lotion.
Now except your polling unit is in Victoria Garden City (VGC) like the one we saw with a barbecue stand on Twitter in the past week, chances are there would be no vendors at your unit. So grab a bottle of water for yourself and another for a stranger.
This one sounds foreign, but it protects you from the sun. And If you still feel the hat is ridiculous, then the face cap is for you. It protects your face and eyes from heavy sunlight. Throw in a sunshade for 2FA.
Reports from the just concluded elections indicate that you might spend all day there to ensure your votes are uploaded. So remember to pack some snacks with you. Depending on how many people turn up at your polling unit, you might need to dust your food flask from secondary school, university, or your in-office days. Your culinary skills are also going to be put to the test.
These days, the weather is as unpredictable as the exchange rate. If it rains, you need something to keep you from getting wet, and a raincoat is perfect. We’re sure INEC wouldn’t provide canopies and seats that day, so stay prepared and get a raincoat.
Things you might have to lend INEC
One common theme during the elections was the lack of preparedness by the election body. The performance of INEC was below par, considering the ₦305 billion budgeted by the federal government for the elections.
Voters at several polling units in the South East, North East and South South complained of excess voters. They even mentioned that their polling units had just one Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) machine. Others in polling units across the country had to lend INEC officials some personal items to conduct the elections. Below is a list of items you might need to carry along in case INEC decides to do a repeat.
Before you think this is unusual, remember this lady from a unit in Gwarimpa, Abuja, who had to switch on her 5G for INEC officials to complete the exercise at her PU. At some polling units, officials cited lack of internet as the reason they would not upload the election result.
Bottle of Ink
Don’t be surprised; you might have to lend INEC officials some ink.
During the February 25 elections, voting continued until midnight in some places. Since you can’t rely on the national grid to provide a steady power supply, an alternative might be necessary. So carry your torches, generators or car headlights to your polling units.
INEC officials were rumoured to have been on call for over 24 hours without food or drinks that should have been allocated during the preparation for the exercise. If the INEC officials at your polling unit wear long faces, try offering them a loaf of bread. They might be hungry but shy.
Remember to move in groups as you go out on March 18 to vote again. Stay away from lonely roads. Raise the alarm at first sight of violence and be your brother’s keeper. In the meantime, encourage people to come out and vote on Saturday. If they need reasons to vote, Citizen listed some here. You won’t get another chance at it for the next four years, so please go out and cast your vote.