Voting In Nigeria: The Struggle Games.

February 6, 2019

The 2019 general elections are a little over a week away. On the 16th of February, some 84 million registered voters, will defy the pull of Saturday morning television, to make their way to polling units scattered country-wide. They will make a choice as to who gets to most likely, but hopefully not — screw us over for the next 4 years.

As with everything in Nigeria, the electoral process for the 2019 elections, has been nothing, if not a struggle. And sure Nigerians have dissociated struggle with being well… struggle, slapping words like sacrifice on it, and extolling it as some kind of test in virtue.

But there’s only so much lipstick you can put on a pig, struggle is struggle, is struggle.

Take the PVCs for instance. These bad boys are so important, they have their own catch phrase- ‘no PVC, no vote’.

So riddle me this, for something that important, why does it appear as though INEC officials, in their little Whatsapp group, had a running bet as to who could make life the hardest for intending voters?

Despite having 4 years to plan for the elections, the majority of INEC officials were grossly under-resourced for the PVC registration process. There were centers with single (malfunctioning) laptops to cater to teeming crowds. These, among other things, produced queues long enough to test even the most ardent voting-activists. Are current fuel prices being double the cost they were in 2015, really worth attaining middle age, on a never-ending queue? Arguable, but I’m leaning towards a no.

Nigerians far and wide felt the stress of this process. Registering was hard, collecting- equally as bad.

And yet, while registering and collecting PVCs are crown struggles in their own right — no struggle is more apparent than the fact that despite shining our eyes, like all the music videos tell us to, Nigerians have been backed into 2 opposing walls emblazoned with an umbrella and broom respectively.

As it stands, Nigerians do not have the option of choosing between the devil we know and that which we don’t. We know them, their avoidance is the real issue.

This is because despite having 74 parties in the running for the presidency — when it boils down to it — the elections are really a struggle between 2 parties alone – The APC and The PDP.

These parties, with no real ideologies to begin with, are the outcome of so much in-breeding and cross-carpeting, it’s hard to tell where one ends, and the other begins.

Their front-runners are Nigeria’s current president and a former vice-president; 2 persons whose abilities in democratic governance, Nigerians are very well aware of.

While Buhari’s track record has seen him do everything from running the country perched in a sick-bay of sorts, to throwing hands and a tantrum with the laid down law. Atiku’s has seen him embroiled in corruption sagas so twisted, a US lawmaker lost his job on one occasion, and the United States had him banned from visiting their country in another.

And while yes, there is the option of voting with your heart and choosing a third force candidate to represent the country, the sad reality is, these parties just do not possess the range to compete against these super-powers.

Worse still, if PVC struggles and mirror-image candidates aren’t enough to contend with, voting day brings with it, the opportunity to play the most involuntary game of Russian Roulette yet.

Will your unit be the one to get attacked? Is someone going to run away with the ballot boxes? Perhaps your center will get shot up.

Trust the Nigerian voting process to always keep things spicy.

Like clockwork- every election suffers though some violence or other. In 2011 alone, about 800 Nigerians lost their lives to election violence that followed the victory of Goodluck Jonathan as Nigeria’s president.

And with news of arms being impounded every other day on Nigerian roads and borders, it’s hard to not view the upcoming elections with more than a little trepidation.

But that’s the repeated story of Nigeria. Why afford the people real choices and ease of life, when life can be made as difficult and unpleasurable as is possible?

Will the 2019 elections break the chain? Clearly not, but being the eternal optimists that religion and delusion have afforded us, we’ll continue to hope for better in coming years.

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