Ojota, Lagos State, Nigeria.
This was my bit; my own little drop of water that added to the flood of 2015. Not the disaster that killed more than 50 people in about eleven states and rendered about 100,420 persons homeless between August and September of the same year. No, not that one. That flood could not displace a sitting President.
My drop of water supplemented the forceful political flood that overran a running sitting President. That political flood, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, internally displaced an incumbent President.
This is My PVC story. My Permanent Voters’ Card story which I first wrote down in 2015, after I got my PVC.
The first Punch flew past my right ear pulling along with it a whirlwind. I had titled my head to the left just in time. I would have had to go back home with one ear only, my left. The Punch was fierce enough to chop off a tree branch. It would have been very easy to lose my right ear to it.
My Yoruba was still an infant so I did not understand everything that was said. One of them spoke in pidgin, “I go fall this canopy Jos now everybody eye go clear”. The atmosphere was quite fiery.
I’m still in awe of a woman’s strength because, a woman, a pregnant woman in a small frame, was all it took to end the sizzling war. She simply sat in front of the chaotic crowd and kept on yelling ‘make una see me o’. That seemingly simple move tamed the storm.
By the time the dust had settled, I found I was a few places ahead in the queue. Most people were too edgy to retake their exact spots just before the scuffle ripped the peace of the distribution Centre apart. Lucky me; well, I was half lucky and half calm. My calmness helped me see that I could simply advance undisturbed, while some other people were still trying to settle what was left of the raging dust.
As if luck had not done enough for me, I simply stretched out my strong right arm over a bead of heads, then, “Rafiu” I called out, he looked up at me wearing surprise across his face. I heard him being called earlier by his supervisor so I took advantage of that. I took a shot. “Rafiu help your guy na, you want make I sleep here abi?” I said to him.
I filled out the form Rafiu eventually gave me for not having my TVC – Temporary Voters ‘Card, and handed it back to him. He passed my pale PVC across to me. I signed, thumb-printed and said to myself “I’ve lost one thing I share with the Sultan of Sokoto”. I had read in the news that he, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar III, could be disenfranchised for not having his PVC unless something was done urgently. We shared that uncomfortable position until I got mine.
Yes, I finally got my PVC after the war that almost claimed one of my ears, and I prayed for the Sultan to get his, so we can have something in common again.
The Presidential election, the Nigerian political flood of 2015, eventually took place on the 14th of February. In 2015, I and some friends called that month ‘FeBuhari’, literally translating to ‘love Buhari’ or ‘want Buhari’ in the Yoruba Language.
We, the FeBuharists, have passed through eight years, each one running roughshod through us. Nonetheless, another February was wooing us by the side. 23rd February 2019.
In 2019 however, I was on air on the Presidential Election Day, with Mr Enwereji and others, on 93.7 Wazobia FM, Onitsha. It did not matter that our votes did not count, after all, we were rendering ‘essential services’.
Fast forward, to January 2023.
Life Camp, Abuja, Nigeria.
It is déjà vu. I had been in this same situation eight years ago. Only a slight difference, actually, a lot of difference. A peaceful atmosphere made all the difference.
In 2023, even though I am to go on air, on Citizen FM 93.7, on Election day, I had said to myself that my vote will count.
Because I moved to Abuja, my new city, I had to transfer my PVC so I could vote. Again, I needed to visit the polling unit from where I initiated the transfer process to pick up my Card. It was like reliving my past, albeit differently. It was some sort of déjà vu.
Interestingly, no quarrels, no fiery arguments, no wars; just a cluster of orderly ordinary people trying to get their cards. I kept on advancing until it was my turn. In less than five minutes I had my PVC with me.
The same month, same circumstances, eight years on, but the conversation had changed from being FeBuharists. What are we now? Well, hopefully, my little drop of water will yet again obediently add up to the 2023 political flood.