We took the opportunity
Today, Saturday, the 9th of April 2011, Nigerians were presented with the opportunity to elect their representatives vying for the National Assembly which is made up of the National Senate and the House of Representatives.
In 15 of the 109 Senatorial districts and 48 of the Federal Constituencies had elections postponed until Tuesday, the 26th of April 2011.
The electioneering process seemed to get off on a very optimistic note with accreditation slated for the hours between 8:00AM and 12:00 noon, the voting to commence from 12:30 until the last accredited person votes and then the counting at the Polling Unit, the announcement of the results and the collation of results up the chain to the central Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices.
Nigerians at home, as witnesses and voters and those abroad interacted effectively online through Twitter, Facebook, mobile telephony, Skype, radio and television to ensure that this was the most scrutinised elections ever in the history of Nigeria.
The hashtag # was probably the most active Twitter placeholder today as thousands of Tweet messages witnessed, informed, shared and documented events with the sharing of advices, anecdote and mostly all done in good humour.
This is how the trend for #NigeriaDecides on Twitter http://j.mp/ho2qkm ran in the last 24 hours; you can move the timeline about.
The first Tweets that caught my attention were those that informed that INEC staff had arrived at Polling Units early and were set up to receive voters for accreditation at 8:00AM prompt.
A good start
The first accreditation notice came within 5 minutes of the Polling Units opening for business.
@: # Accreditation done in less than a min PU: 24/20/04/017 # That is efficient. Excellent!
Much credit and commendation has to go to the National Youth Service Corps members who had been called into service as helpers of INEC in the elections, many have come to harm with the loss of life, attacks on their persons and the poor catering for their needs by INEC and other agencies as shown the Tweets that follow, but we owe them a debt of gratitude for their service.
There were issues at certain Polling Units with voters not finding their names of the Voters’ Register, but these were sporadic and it is unlikely that the absence of these voters would have unduly changed the results though the feeling of being disenfranchised can be very disheartening.
One is hope that this would be addressed by the time of the next election on Saturday the 16th of April 2011.
What we have to do
We could not forget that the elections to the National Assembly presented the winners with one of the best perks for any job in the world. If we were to election anyone to that kind of position we had to be sure we would get value for money.
People were encouraged and they were lead to enthuse others to get involved, there is a promise in a place called Nigeria and it would start with a few to get the many out to vote.
The big-wigs who had tried to personify the electoral process with everything catering to their needs like the out-going governor of Kwara State.
According to advice from INEC no Polling Unit was to support more than 300 voters, this should have been split into 4 groups, however, the person who posted this status did not mention where this problem was.
We've just seen a polling unit with over 1000 registered voters even when INEC there should be no more than 300 #NigeriaDecides
With all the checks and balances put in place to stop election irregularities, it appears some diehards would always be up to mischief but thankfully many of them were thwarted in their machinations. INEC expects to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those caught in electoral malpractice.
Turnout and averting violence
The turnout was varied across the country, in some places it was very low but in others quite high, despite the apathy and cynicism of those who did not turn up, what mattered was for those who did to have the opportunity to exercise their rights without let or hindrance.
There are many reports from around the country of outbreaks of violence, bomb blasts and other disruptive activities but the people stood their ground in most instances to ensure that their votes mattered and counted.
Accreditation continued well passed the 12 noon deadline as long as those seeking to voter were at the Polling Unit by 12 noon.
After Accreditation, the accredited queued up to vote, they were counted and the Presiding Officer after announcing the numbers of those in the Voters’ Register, those accredited and those queued up to vote, Form EC 8A was filled in and voting commenced.
The voting began in earnest with certain issues with ballot papers like missing party symbols and the case of certain ballots spoilt because the ink had not dried up before the ballot paper was folded blotting other party boxes.
Reference Notes & URLs
To contact INEC
If you are tweeting about the elections, please use the hashtag#NigeriaDecides.
Send SMS Reports to INEC on these numbers 0816-666-2222, 0812-000-6622, 0809-666-2221.
Use these HOTLINES for incident reporting: 0707-0273-6781-9 (9 lines.)
General Election Information
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