PEN 2011: The Presidential Elections, Nigeria 2011

Tomorrow is going to be a big day in the history of Nigeria. The Presidential elections will be holding on 16th April, 2011 and an unprecedented turnout is expected at polling booths nationwide. I just wish I didn’t have to wake up very early on Saturday or any Saturday for that matter. Accreditation starts supposedly around 7am and this equates to queues more complex than the hamster-friendly mazes at Disneyland Paris. Not to mention, I would most certainly be forced to endure a ‘manicure’ from the polling officers as they paint my left thumb cuticle with some purple dye (I’ll be sure to upload pictures this weekend for you to gawk at). My only joy will be that the sunlight will not be intense during these early hours. Ever been outside in Lagos at 12 noon between March and June? Temperatures climb up to 92⁰F and with that kind of heat you’d probably be able to fry two things: your eggs and your brain. But I’m going to make sure I arrive there well-prepared; Voter’s registration card, Comfy slippers with good uptime (i.e. capable of enduring my weight as I stand on my feet for the next 2 hours), Chilled bottled water, a newspaper and my Camera + WordPress enabled Blackberry…you know, the essentials.

From L-R: Jonathan, Shekarau, Buhari and Ribadu

In the Presidential (rat) race there are 4 aspirants who stand out amongst the rest: Shekarau, Ribadu, Buhari and last but not least, Goodluck Jonathan (the current president who was appointed after the inevitable death of Yar’Adua). The billboards, the magazines, the local TV stations, the radio waves, and bulk SMS/text messages have all been suffering from a severe case of Electophobia – I mean, four corny political jingles every hour is complete overkill. Whilst I wouldn’t want to stick my neck out and complain directly to the presidential candidates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is making sure that they behave and that the overall elections are carried out transparently and as boring as possible (but I believe the more popular term is ‘fair and square’). Movement will be restricted nationwide as resident Nigerians, expatriates (and illegal immigrants) are expected to uphold the curfew – 10pm tonight until 6am tomorrow, and then from 8am till 6pm (which leaves a small window of 2 hours between 6am and 8am to dash nowhere because all the shops will be closed anyway, sigh). The revolution will be televised and I want to appeal to all Nigerians out there to go out and exercise your feet and your democratic rights. Vote for your desired leader. The power is in your thumbs! 🙂

See pictures of the polling zone on The Other Side