Like many others, i followed the progress of the national assembly and senatorial elections online last Saturday. I was very encouraged to see the level of transparency and engagement the internet can facilitate. Since then, i’ve been listening out for the reactions of other Nigerians of different generations where i live. It’s fair to say that there is a general sense of hesitancy and cautiousness when people talk about the process. Based on past experience of Nigeria (of which many of these people have much more than me), this is a completely wise attitude.
However, for the first time in my memory, people are genuinely optimistic about and excited about the process. In thinking over what happened last weekend, i realised that this election seems like a test of whether the country can come together to insist on its will against that of a political class that appears to believe that it is invincible. And last Saturday was so interesting because it was an early taste of victory. It was wonderful to read reports of ordinary citizens monitoring what INEC was up to at their local polling units.
Of course, there have since been the usual disputes over results (what was up with the Ngige/Akunyili race? ) and recently, a video emerged showing people caught in the act of vote rigging. But i think the point stands that when people show up and insist on their voices counting, it makes a difference. The very fact such a video exists is a good thing because it shows that somebody bothered to record what they saw happening and because of that INEC and other authorities have a way of following up on this.
So as we head into the presidential elections on April 16th, i am trusting the people on the ground to do what they can in RSVPing. Not for the first time, i find myself wishing i could be physically present. I can’t wait for the time when Nigerian citizens outside the country can participate in elections from anywhere around the world.
Again, i’m praying for safety tomorrow and in the days following. Have a safe and peaceful election day everyone.