Five Things I Learnt From Saturday’s Election By Ojo Adeolu
The much anticipated election finally took place on the 28th of March 2015 after the initial postponement. So far, reports’ reaching suggests the election went on quite smoothly in most states except for a few. However, I noticed quite a few things especially in my polling unit and its surrounding units (University Of Lagos) which has prompted me to write this short piece so we learn from our rights and wrongs.
1) THE ‘SMART’ CARD READER WASN’T A BAD IDEA AFTERALL;
After series of arguments as to whether the card reader would be compromised or not, we finally saw it being used for the first time and its pass rate was quite commendable. In fact most voters described it as a step in the right direction.
Since we are not ready for computerized election, the card reader was more like infusing technology into the electoral process. This truly is a welcome development
2) VOTERS EDUCATION SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY;
Quite a number of voters were not well informed about the voting procedures. In fact, most voters used their thumbs instead of the index finger thus causing ink smirch outside of the allocated box. This gave room for arguments as to whether the votes were valid or not.
Much more to my surprise, Professors who I thought would be more enlightened were culprits. Also, while folding the ballot papers some voters didn’t know that ballot papers are meant to be folded longitudinally to avoid duplicated prints on opposite sides. This also accounted for quite a number of void votes.
To avoid these issues in subsequent elections, INEC needs to start educating voters.
3) WE NEED TO MOVE ON TO A TWO-PARTY SYSTEM;
Much has been said about the two party system. However, Saturday’s election re-affirmed the need for it. The difference in the number of votes between the ruling party, the main opposition party and other parties from results emerging has been so much that one would begin to think that these parties are just contesting to make up the numbers. In fact, at my polling unit these other parties had no representative(s) which even shows how unserious they are.
Personally, I feel we would save more resources if we move on to a two-party system and also, it would make our electoral process more direct which is better.
4) NIGERIANS DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR REPRESENTATIVES;
It’s so sad but we need to do more as citizens. Our representatives aren’t just going to Abuja ‘to share money’. I feel as citizens we need to know who we are voting for and hold them accountable for their actions.
In my polling unit for example, quite a number of people were not interested in the Senatorial & House of representatives elections. Probably why these boxes accounted for the highest number of void votes.
The election isn’t just about voting for the president and governors, our representatives are also key members of the democratic process.
5) TIME WASTAGE MUST BE ELIMINATED ;
Time management was a key issue in Saturday’s election. The electoral officers arrived late in most polling units and also, time spent on accreditation alone was so unnecessary considering the fact that voters had to wait to repeat a whole new cycle of queuing to vote.
To think that we had only about 10 hours to vote and count these votes yet we spent about 6hours on accreditation without voting is quite ridiculous. Little wonder some poling units had to use artificial light sources as it was getting dark and most voters had not performed their civic duties.
I suggest INEC should find a way to incorporate the accreditation and voting process as a single stage of the electoral process, that way we’ll save time.
These are just a few key issues noticed while I was at the polling unit. I sincerely hope we learn from these , so subsequent elections would be far much better.
Kudos to Nigerians and INEC for the elections. We can still do much better.
Written by OJO ADEOLU, a post-graduate student at the University of Lagos.
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