Observing elections was an entirely new thing to me and I opted in for the task and opportunity the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism/YIAGA provided for me and my colleagues to have a sound experience in reporting and journalism which is my field of study as an undergraduate of mass communication. I was designated by my team lead Olufemi Damilola in Ondo West to rural areas.
Albeit, I resided in Ondo west and in its urban area— Ondo city but the places assigned to me are characterized with bowery hills, cocoa farms, streams, mud houses and other places I had never been to. So, this experience was an eye-opener for me through the mangroves, dank leaves that swirled with the wind while I and my Bike man rode through the villages: places like Litaye, Oduwo, Bagbe, Ago-Dagio, Ajegunle, Igbado, Okegun, Lemoso etc. The places were up to 1-hour distance from each other, I just had to forfeit some places that wouldn’t allow me to be more effective and those places have bad network coverages.
At different phases of my journeys, I met old men with toddlers, young sturdy men on motorcycles to their farms or homes, women and their children carrying firewood and trotting the wet, ditched roads to various destinations— which could be more than a mile away from home before they come to their polling units which could also be a long journey. Although, those who lived in the villages are politically conscious so there wasn’t any polling unit population that was too little based on the number of people who lived in rural areas generally.
Generally, the roads through my assigned places are bad and at different points, I had to come down from the motorcycle while the bike man trudged through the mud with it, and at a point, he fell into a ditch of which I had to rescue and help lift the motorcycle. We had to keep praying on the way so the cycle’s tires won’t get punctured by the sharp stones that we had to go through and the impact that bounced our motorcycle up in varying velocities.
The village people, most times, respected me and welcomed me as though I was an INEC official. The election was peaceful in the places I observed and I used my spy cameras to capture irregularities and breach against the INEC rules like security men holding guns in polling units, party agents standing close to the voting points to monitor those will be bought over etc.
The common thing about the voters’ consciousness that I observed is the indoctrination of vote-buying. People are beginning to see vote-buying as a way of life. Most of the people were willing to sell their votes and some would even go to an extent of voting a less preferred party/candidate because the party promised them funds but failed to provide to those who worked tirelessly till the election day. I observed that the aged ones remained reticent and wore pale faces with dim radiations of hope and made their choices of preferred candidates without compromising or selling their votes.
I hope that anyone who reads this would preach the gospel of consciousness and independence of our people’s minds from the shackles of ignorance and the long-run implication of instant gratification.
This story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author.
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