Let me start with a personal experience. I was a media handler to one of the candidates contesting to govern one of the states in the South east of Nigeria in 2013. The candidate, a business mogul, was very popular especially among the youths, who happen to hold the ace in electoral victory in any space. Of course, judging by his youthful age then, he was certainly one of them. He had everything to his advantage, or so it seemed then. What with the deep pockets which included the dollar to spend and also the youthful energy? We traversed the nooks and crannies of the state including villages and sub-urban cities and towns. We even went as far as neighbouring and some other states other states where we knew we could convince the indigenes of our candidate’s state living there to come home to exercise their voting rights and vote for him.
Lot of money was spent on “mobilisation” and of course, this couldn’t be a problem since my then principal had a very deep pocket…perhaps deeper than other candidates and he was not one to shy away from flaunting it. His country home, which was the de facto campaign head office was always a theatre of activities from when the campaigns commenced and afterwards. We were more than sure that he was going to have upper hands judging by the crowds, days and nights and in everywhere we went to campaign. Every clergy, traditional ruler, community leader and so on assured our candidate. So, we thought we were good to go to the polls and win.
On the day of the election, one of the first things that surprised us was that at every polling booth, length of the queues were short, contrary to our expectation. We had expected a huge turn-out of voters, judging by the huge turn-outs during campaigns. It was as if the whole communities were deserted. What could have gone wrong? The weather was clement, no harassment from security agents, it was a public holiday declared for the sole purpose of the Election Day. It was a deep puzzle. Well, votes were cast and election result was declared and your guess is as good as mine. He lost.
I replayed the whole scenario in my mind, right from the early days even before my candidate declared his intent, in which various socio-cultural and business communities pledged their support, down to commencement of campaigns, the huge crowds so difficult to control that bestrode all campaigns, up until the eve of the Election Day. I couldn’t fathom where we went wrong. All of us at the situation room were in the cold like the proverbial chicken that fell into a pool of water and struggled to get out to safety. Money was spent lavishly, we had the best manifesto, or so we thought. But one thing was missing in our campaign pitch: we took it for granted that every eligible voter had a Permanent Voter’s Card, or PVC. We took it for granted that everyone in the crowd who showed love for our candidate was a potential voter, even without asking whether he or she is eligible, through possession of the PVC. The crowd was our only mega-assurance. We neglected, to our undoing, the most important item, without which a vote cannot be cast: The Almighty PVC!
It is regrettable that a lot of people do not collect their voter’s card even when they reluctantly do register to have one; many even collect it not for the purpose of voting, but for other extraneous reasons like access to public utilities. You can hail your candidate, speak well of him, support him in whatever way you deem possible but you are a total waste if you do not translate these activities into countable votes on election day. It makes me remember the popular saying that politics is a game of numbers. And the only way this game could be played and won legally is by possession of valid PVC and use it on election day. It is your power, your weapon to vote in or vote out whomsoever you wish. It is free and your only qualification is your age. Democracy is so good that it is the only and best form of government that allows full participation. You are very important in the democratic process inasmuch as you possess your personal PVC. Do not sell it or exchange it for other pecuniary benefits. Doing so will only mean you’ve sold your birthright as did the biblical Esau.
So, when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday claimed that 215,000 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were still unclaimed in Ekiti, five months to the July 14 governorship election, it was a very sad commentary.
Hopefully, Osun residents will take a cue from this, by not only be in possession of their individual PVCs, but also come out en mass to elect their desired candidates when the time comes.