In recent news, the people of Ikorodu, the seventh largest local government in Lagos, have called on INEC to make voters registration more accessible and convenient for them.
At a stakeholders’ conference, Lukman Shonibare, chairman of the Ikorodu Community Development Committee (CDC), said that many individuals encountered various difficulties when attempting to visit the INEC office for registration and PVC collections.
The office, according to Shonibare, was hard to get to since it was tucked away in the Government Residential Area (GRA), which had strong security measures restricting movement.
“The distance to the INEC office has deterred many people, thus we want to ask our legislator to attend to our predicament.
“In most cases, getting to their workplace will require all of your energy while walking. We need to move the office to a location that will be easy for everyone to access,” he said.
He was supported by Azeez Olushugbo, another grassroot leader, who also spoke. He encouraged INEC to boost staff numbers because more citizens were interested in voting in the upcoming general elections in 2023.
Aside from the above concerns, the chairman of GRA 1 CDA, Ebute beside the General Hospital Ikorodu, Prince Femi Odulaja, alleged that criminally minded people used the excuse of accessing INEC registration centre in the GRA to commit crimes.
In light of the above, several like stories and rising concerns with respect to the abortive efforts of many Nigerians in acquiring the rights to partake in choosing their leaders in the coming general elections, Freelanews puts up this analytical report to highlight the fundamentals behind the clarion call and the underlining gamification of power geared to reinforce the hold of the cabalistic ruling set.
2023 is upon us
It is yet another full circle of testing out new personnel across all political and geographical delineations in Nigeria. Like every other chance at this since return to democratic rule in 1999, the stakes are way higher.
The people are becoming more politically aware, conscious and careful of the consequences of their actions and inactions, and realising assuredly that the power really lies with them.
The #ENDSARS protest for instance, lent credence to the emerging scrutiny and mass action against the establishment. The people come to understand how to precipitate crisis to command change, or maybe attention at the barest minimum. The demand for accountability in governance has, with that singular event, moved from the four-year ballot goal post, to an everyday struggle to take back their country. It does also mobilise, freshly and critically, a massive youth population out of their docility to a place of what can be politically termed a ‘Third Force’.
Importantly also, the hunt for hope is way more voracious this time. Given the reality of compounded failures that resulted from the enormous political swap of 2015, which was propelled on the wings of merchanted promise for change to status quo.
An empirical appraisal speaks to the negative with how this charade has come along. The messianic imaging of Muhamadu Buhari has become a reference point to many Nigerians, who are mostly slippery hopefuls when there’s a nudge to again believe in this nation’s future.
Without mincing words, Nigerians are disappointed, disorientated, defaced and enraged at this system that seem to lead only to even more despair.
As the new political tournament fully crept in within the last one year, millions of Nigerians began raising their antennas in coverage of events, gestures and gesticulations within and outside known political structures for two main reasons.
First, to glean from the cult of the corrupt and impotent leaders the slimmest chance of the emergence of ‘The One’. Nigerians have dreamt and prayed for a leader with the popular profile of being relatively young, dissociated with the present political class, a technocrat with a mental and personality pedigree for prudential resource management. Second, trailing the games, twists and turns of the ruling class to spot and stop manipulative moves often planned in pursuit of their common interests.
Both of these credible positions and motivations of the citizenry are fervently pursued by the masses across the length and breadth of the nation.
The mission to spot and stop institutional chess playing is gathering so much momentum.
The labelled ‘social media voters’ youth population of the nation for instance, has suddenly reenacted its circumspection by transferring the protest energy to massive voter registration, with a view to congregate a critical mass that can determine the move of power. A visit to the Tafawa Balewa Square voters registration centre in Lagos repaints the picture of Lekki Toll Gate during the protest. This time, an angry lot of the about 120million population are out to arm themselves with the right to fight with the ballot – 2023 is indeed upon us.
Political analysts would quickly jump to shrug off the impeding tsunami of an awakened, determined and exasperated young population with the arguments of large disparity in the mentality and organization of city youth and the majority in the remote part of the nation.
But beyond the possibility of driving a people-led change in the choice of our leaders in 2023, one reality holds dearly true: this movement cannot be curved back to passivity, never again. Their ‘noise’ is gradually stringing into a symphony of purpose and without long will bring about a harmonious command of tremendous power.
What is known at this moment is the resolve of the ruling class to maintain status quo – maybe dance a little to the gallery to garner popularity, but with a united front hold on to the wheels of power. They carry out this meandering by using government institutions to cow the populace into submission – be it the security forces, fiscal forces (deprivation of necessity, weaponize poverty) or even the most important agency of change – the Independent National Electoral Commission.
It is no longer an easy thing to cook up election results or rig in any form at a scale. It has therefore become new-fashioned to use voter disenfranchising to keep the power bloc control on tab.
As described above, if a new generation of power wading youth can successfully lay their hands on the arms of votes, it would become almost impossible to determine the next set of leaders over a cup of tea at guest houses and hotel lobbies. Hence, there’s a mission to maintain a voters database of blind loyalists and commoditized party faithfuls, other than to open up to a more inclusive, better reflective and more analytic eligible voting population. The goal is simple – let us make the registration difficult if not impossible for them.
Unusual power shifts in the United States for Barack Obama and Donald Trump were both attributed to the ability to mobilize non-voting population to the ballot. It is a game changer anywhere and the truth must be told, these unscrupulous leaders of ours, knowing and seeing the trend would do all to blur out such uncertainties.
Data shows how INEC, under the puppeteering of the Establishment and their foot soldiers are making voter registration herculean and, in some cases, impossible for millions of Nigerians. The Ikorodu case is one that puts this ploy on an x-ray machine, and one can vividly see the game the masses are faced with.
They have rejoined discussions on the legitimacy, maybe, effectiveness of the current Voter Registration process. The system has been argued to be antiquated by the emergence of the National Identity database. People are calling for such integration that validate an individual through his NIN and incorporates him to vote, given that the criteria for enrollment of both are similar – of age, being a Nigerian, etc. Though the implementation of this prescribed system may be a bit far-fetched at this moment, the goal as it were, is to explore the path of expanding the legal net for valid right to determine our collective future.
The recently reported surge in voters’ registration further throws a probe into the whole process. Some geopolitical zones have queried the skewed surge, which seems to be very dramatic in the northern part of the nation (over 1000% in some cases). There is a valid wonder on how hundreds of thousands of new voters were registered in the insecurity-ridden North-Eastern Nigeria, but relatively smaller addition in the Southern part of the nation despite physical evidence of over-crowded registration centers. Wouldn’t it be expected of INEC to deploy mechanism to quickly mop up in these regions, such as relocating and creating more centres to guarantee more reach and better accessibility?
Ikorodu is less dispersed as some local governments in Borno, which beyond insecurity issues, also poses a massive logistical challenge for the process. The questions are; whose interest does it serve to afford more convenience and coverage to some part and not to others? What will be the faith of millions of interested voters who may not get past the window to register and obtain their legitimate right to vote? What is the import of this on say the presidential election which is often determined by an average of 26million voters, now that there is actually a factor of potential swaying votes of tens of millions of new voters?
These are indeed the questions in the minds of the emerging Nigeria-hopefuls, who have turned out the leanest part of their hearts to imagine, to dare build a Third Force that can unsettle and finally retire this old generation of gamers of thrones.