Jega Can’t Stop This Army

“My vote must count,” echoed an angry elderly man driven to hysteria by Attahiru Jega’s disenfranchisement of millions of Lagosians. As he spoke at the verification and registration centre at St. Kizito School, Iju Ishaga, hundreds of disenfranchised others joined and changed it into a song. As they chanted their resolve to challenge INEC, the man told the story that he had been voting since 1959 and had never seen the shoddy spectacle being enacted in Lagos State. This columnist falls into the category of the elderly man. Mr. Ifelaja, Mr. Oguntoyibo, Mr. Oguniyi, Madam Iyabode Aina and hundreds of others belong to the category of the irate elder. They are not a few being harshly treated by Jega. We are not new voters. We voted in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. But we are now being denied our civic rights. We shall not accept this plot to rig for a favoured candidate by disenfranchising informed voters as INEC did in Anambra and Ekiti.

The Anambra abracadabra opened the eyes of Lagos to a possible deliberate fumble by the INEC to calculatedly install those who appointed Jega and his team in power.

My name is Lawrence, Ben Osarieme, VIN: 030DDE58D8295949180, PU: 24/10/05/017. The date of registration or issue is January 25, 2011 at 10:52 am. I struggled for about three weeks then before I could be registered and wasted valuable executive and business time. I have wasted countless hours in vain now to obtain my permanent voter’s card. Why does this federal government treat Nigerians with disrespect? I voted in the 1959 and 1964 federal polls without stress and voted in the Lagos Town Council election of 1962. I did the same duty on June 12, 1993 and the 1999 presidential poll with ease. Why have registration and voting become a pain since the hoodoo elections of 2003?

One should pity Mama Ifeoma who has been beating the streets looking for the shifty polling unit to register. She met this columnist at St. Kizito School where hundreds of people teemed either looking for their permanent voters’ cards or seeking registration. She has spent more than a week unsuccessfully to register. She is desperate because she does not want her three-year-old daughter to be denied education and medical facilities because of her non-possession of a voter’s card. She takes care of an invalid elderly lady. Her employer granted her such valuable hours to earn a card but it was eating rudely into her performance of duty, especially because of the critical nature of hospice. But the family, being a catholic, understands her plight.

The strain is really intense at St Kizito as thousands storm there to secure cards. At nearly 1 pm on Monday, November 17, a woman fainted on the queue and had to be hurried away for medical attention.

The INEC is no respecter of even the priesthood. In my frustration on Monday, November 17, I called at my parish to chat with my priest. Surprisingly, the Reverend Father Paul Ighabor could not get his permanent voter’s card at the unit he was registered. He is a disciplined and thorough individual who spares no time for faults.

He told them he did not want to be disenfranchised and so they re-registered him. I told him that he had fallen into their trap. They are going to spring a farce that he has multiple registrations. The man of God does not know the tricky ways of INEC’s election ghouls who prepare results before polling.

Nigeria is really sick. Can she be patched to a whole with these fake drugs of corruption, graft and gross falsification of everything desirable to heal the sick? How long can she survive on illicit medicament?

It was Muhammadu Buhari who first exposed the grand design of the grand coalition of the PDP-INEC-Police-Judiciary. The SSS had not shown its face in the plot then until its spokeswoman turned the Osun poll into a political rostrum. Those who want to hold on to power are desperate to succeed though heads roll. But Jega can’t stop this army of protesters.

One is surprised that time has not worn out the distaste of the people against oil subsidy planned removal of January 2012. In big cities and towns there is still distrust of government because of the very careless way President Goodluck Jonathan treated the subject. They are afraid that after 2015 polls, the oil subsidy question will be fully dealt with, caring no hoot about public displeasure. Don’t they have a reason to conjecture anything imaginable when they have been beaten once?

Some fellow asked me the question also whether the pump price of petrol would be reduced by a third now that crude oil price has dropped to $77 instead of $120? That is for the super minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to answer.

The Lagos voter’s registration debacle is exhuming many cases buried despite public outcry. People talk freely about how those involved in the scam have been served with good conduct certificates by those who hold the reins of power.

In Lagos, people speak freely at registration centres, mindless of the moles and goons eavesdropping. They no longer care nor believe government statements because of the contradictions in them, many conflicting statements competing with the truth.

The people seem to be in advance of government by a decade. They are not inspired in any form because there are no thinking leaders. Those who are 50 years and above drank from the erudition of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo,, Maitama Sule, Aminu Kano and others. Today, the scene is bare.

But restive youths are now asking valid questions. They ask, for example, how an economy grows when the intermediate industries are comatose? They wonder why federal roads have collapsed in the last 12 years, transportation being critical to economic growth. One of the young unemployed graduates, an engineer, questioned why power distribution companies collect VAT on electricity bills when the only condition prevalent is darkness. Should a nation that wants to grow its economy charge VAT on an essential resource for growth as electricity which should be an incentive to attract more production? That is Nigeria of the 21st century.

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