Last Friday was different. It wasn't the usual "TGIF" merry. People looked serious, conversations were uniform, and most people got home early. I got home and met my bosom friend on my bed. He had moved from the area the previous year. He is someone who is a chronic fan of Friday hangouts, drinking and merry. Here he was, on my bed at 8pm. The first question he asked me was; "where's your PVC?"
I smiled and looked at him, he didn't smile back; guy was serious and wanted an answer to his question. Here was a fella I had known since we were both 6, was never serious, his major preoccupation was playing pranks, having fun and getting caught. Finally, I showed him my PVC. He then informed me that he came to vote; apparently he registered here in 2011 before he moved to another part of town. Before 11pm, 4 other childhood friends came to my house with the same motive of voting the next day. These guys weren’t going to be disenfranchised for all the money in the world. They believed in the exercise and wanted to be a part of it.
The Polling Unit (PU) was just about 30 meters away from where I live. I could see everything from the comfort of my home. Arrival at the PU started as early as 6.20am. Some citizens brought food, water, and chairs to wait for the INEC officials. We strolled to the PU at 9am to meet citizens in their hundreds. The INEC official arrived at 9.17am. The first good sign of the day was that people were happy to see the officials than feel irritated about their tardiness.
As expected, there were several argument and debates amongst groups of voters on their choice of candidates. These debates gave me hope of a better future for the country. A better democracy finally. Voters were educated, knowledgeable and enlightened about every facet of the exercise. Most of the voters stated facts and figures to back up their arguments and totally ignored religious bias. Mr. Wale, a resident in the area (who I know to be a Christian) stated that since the start of insurgency in Nigeria, Muslims makes up more than 80% of citizens killed which obviously mean it is political. My five friends are all Christians and they all voted for Buhari. I asked one of them why he voted for Buhari and he pointed out that he is disciplined and has a good past records. He never pointed to the Christian-Muslim brouhaha.
The election has gone relatively smoothly so far, but for a few selected areas (South East and South South). International communities have commended the country for the way elections have been conducted. The US ambassador to Nigeria recently said the PVC technology is better than the voters' card system used in America. Though there are still concerns on how people will react when INEC announces the general result but the better news is that Nigerians are ignoring the religious tensions; giving the sweet feelings that we can live as one while respecting each others' faith.
I await the results in the next few hours.