The Nigerian Voter is a series that seeks to understand the motivations that drive the voting decisions of Nigerians — why they vote, how they pick their candidates, why some have never voted and their wildest stories around elections.
For our pilot edition of The Nigerian Voter, Citizen discussed with Mama Ibeji*, a Nigerian woman, in her late 40s, who sells fabrics at Tejuosho Market, Lagos State. She told us about her voting experiences, preferred candidate, and the impact elections have had on her livelihood.
For how long have you worked in the market now? What do you sell?
I have worked there for over five years now. I sell crepe, chiffon, organza — clothing materials in general.
Have you voted before?
This country ehn, there’s nothing that used to make me vote before. The only time I voted was in the “Sai Baba” (Muhammadu Buhari) period in 2015. I remember them sharing all these small bags of rice then and I thought Buhari would end all the nonsense that happened regarding Boko Haram and the Chibok girls at that time. I didn’t know his tenure would be worse than Jonathan’s own.
Do you remember what the voting process was like in 2015?
Hmmm, not so much o. I know that I went to Oke-Odo Primary School to vote because the place is located near my house. I stood under the sun for many hours, but I was able to vote before evening time.
Why didn’t you vote again after 2015?
I didn’t because I was no longer interested. When I heard that Buhari was running for president again in 2019, I became disinterested in the whole affair of voting because I knew that Tinubu would help him win. It was best that I focused on my business.
Hmm. How do you then feel about Tinubu running for president in 2023?
He shouldn’t run at all. That one that his hands shake. He has not done anything for Lagos o, that one is not my president.
How’s the election season affecting your business?
With the state of the country right now, money is not in circulation. But I know that when elections come, candidates release money for campaigns. The market may change by then.
Also, a lot of agberos (street touts) are on the streets in Tejuosho. They don’t want us to rest, with their consistent demands of owo da (where is their money?) They’re so eager to collect money that they didn’t work for.
What’s the money used for?
The agberos say the money is for the government, for the local government. But some people also say that Tinubu also owns the money as well.
How much do you pay?
It depends. Sometimes we pay ₦1,000 every market day, and our market days fall on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Hmm, that’s ₦3,000 every week?
Yes o. Some people pay ₦3,000 per market day, it depends on the portion of space that each trader owns.
Who do you plan to vote for 2023, and why?
If I’ll vote, it’s Peter Obi I’ll vote for. This present government has shown us shege — the dollar rises all the time and the market doesn’t have a steady price. Even buying goods for sale seems pointless because it’s highly unlikely that we would buy those goods for the same price tomorrow. And everything happened under APC. I’m tired.