Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Resurrecting the spirit of June 12

I recall visiting three polling stations around Akinshemonyi/Iponri area of Surulere, Lagos State in a frantic search for my polling center during the 2007 general elections.
This was during the elections for gubernatorial candidates and members of State Houses of Assembly that was conducted on April 14, 2007.

In each of the polling stations I visited, voters with similar challenges such as mine were on a Mongo Park like journey through the streets of Lagos searching for polling centers.
Activities at the polling stations were rancorous and characterized by confusion as prospective voters battled to locate their names on the voters register.

Tired of a four hour wandering in the wilderness, I decided to call it a day at the third polling station I had visited and ended up not voting.

I did not even trouble myself to go out and vote during the Presidential and National Assembly elections that took place on April 21, 2007.
Unlike the voters̢۪ registration exercise which had a semblance of order and recorded a mass turn out of eligible voters, the general elections were an exercise in organized confusion.
The organized confusion started with the failure by INEC to display the lists of eligible voters 120 days before the elections as required by electoral rules.

This ensured that eligible voters were not able to check their names on the voters register or know their polling stations 60 days before the conduct of the elections.
Next, INEC advised registered voters to go to the locations where they had registered with their voter registration slips to vote.
On getting to these locations, prospective voters were informed by INEC officials that each polling center (120, 000) only had 500 allocated numbers of voters.