Having covered the presidential election onthe 23 of February I am certainly not a stranger to the characters I was goingto meet during the governorship and State House of Assembly elections,including political thugs.
I had woken up as early as 4:00am to get ready for the March 9 election at my area in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos, where most people in my neighbourhood didn’t know that I work for a media house. Some of the residents had started questioning me when they saw me on INEC jacket, inscribed Media and a bold identification card. For those who sought to know if I truly work for a media organization, I responded in the affirmative, and boldly too.
I arrived my first polling unit as early as 7:00am.By the time I got there, the first set of people that gathered here startedsaying: “INEC official is around.” Apparently, they thought I was an official of INEC but I had to explainto them that I’m a media person. From that point, the thugs that gatheredaround the first polling unit gave me an official name – Media. They began todemand that I should come and interview them if I wanted my report to beinteresting. Quickly, I had to conduct some fake interviews with them so thatthey would allow me do my job in peace. I recall seeing party agent sharingmoney to those that voted for their party in a coded way.
At a point I thought they were exchangingpleasantries by shaking hands not knowing it was a form of money changinghands.
The one that really trilled me off was whena police officer in one of the polling units I covered fellasleep while voting was going on. When I tried to take his picture, anotherpolice officer, a lady, came over to me and began to shout at me. It was as ifI stole something. I had to tell her that I was doing my job and she said shewas also doing her job. She asked me to stop.
When it became obvious that voter turnout waslow, some youths in the area went and brought a bell and started moving fromhouse to shops to call out people to come and vote. Despite that, most of thepeople who were supposed to vote at the polling units that I covered didn’tcome out to vote.
When I spoke to one of the people who was supposed to vote in the area but who never went out to vote on why he didn’t vote, he said there was no point wasting time trying to vote for people who are going there for their personal benefits.