– On Our Radar Reporters
Hot queues and hindsight: Our reporters speak to the older members of their communities about their election experiences
There is a lack of awareness about the role of technology among elders, says Obomu Gift in Delta State. “Older men and women of my community say they don’t understand what the card reader is all about, due to the lack of orientation. What is paramount to them now is the arrival of ballot box and the proper process of accreditation.”
Speaking to Elizabeth Andaebi, Mensa, a 70-year-old voter, said she thinks the system is “a waste of time and money”. At the same unit, pastor Reverend Alfred Osiobe, whose card was rejected said he feels “the system is a form of oppression to deprive eligible voters.” He said he is “bittered with this experience” which he had never undergone in previous elections.
In Onelga, Rivers State elder, Bella Gazi, has just been accredited. According to her this is the fourth time she has cast her vote as she has been voting since 1999. She said she was very reluctant about casting her vote as it has yielded nothing in the past. She does not feel the impact of governance in the country and is voting because she feels it is a duty.
People are on the look out to ensure the heat of the afternoon does not affect the older voters. “The elderly and disabled are finding it hot because the line is not moving and the reading is slower,” said Ogbotobo Osita. Okonta Emeka said elder voters were being given “preferential treatment” in his ward. This was echoed by Elizabeth Andaebi, who said there were seats for elderly and disabled voters who ”are first attended to”.
Best Uso, Rivers State, said that the aged in her community “are very fanatical about voting and the younger voters have given way for them to get accredited first”, even though for many it is their first chance to cast their vote. This seemed to be paying off in Bayelsa state where Collins Newuwumi reported: “The elderly people are okay and the atmosphere is very good for now.” Elizabeth Andaebi, however, spoke to a number of older voters who said they “prefer[ed] the old pattern of voting because the new pattern is strenuous and time consuming” considering their age.
While there were provisions made, among those waiting there seems to be a notable lack of disabled voters. Okonta Emeka said: “I am yet to see any disabled voters” while Damasus Henry felt that “disabled people have no choice other than to sit at home.”
Chukuwu Peter is 19 years old and a first time voter. According to him, the process was smooth when it was his turn. When asked how he felt about the election, he responded that he was very excited that he has an opportunity to make a choice about who runs the country in the next few years. He was quick to say that he hopes the next regime will improve the economy. He said: “My vote is between me and my God but I am hopeful I will make the right choice.”
Nigeria’s youth have been at the forefront of the call for a free, peaceful election and Chidi patrick, a 28-year-old youth leader said he felt the conduct of the youth so far is commendable. He said “The peace accord we signed is working.” Felicia Frank interviewed first time voter, Ella Precious, 19, who said: “I am very nervous. I want to see the procedure of voting, exercising my franchise. I am happy for I feel I am voting for the right candidate.”
Photo: Richard Ayeni