AS a British citizen, I voted in the referendum that decided the fate of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. I had also voted in previous elections here in the UK and I keep wondering what a sane country this is. Even during the last referendum, I voted close to my child’s elementary school. Unlike in Nigeria, there was no public holiday declared for the referendum, and while taking my daughter to school, I branched at the polling station to cast my vote. She was with me all through the process, and she asked when she would also be able to vote, and I told her when she turns 18.
While growing up in Nigeria, public holidays were declared for elections, and people’s movements were strictly controlled. It was also tough at the polling stations as political thugs unleashed mayhem on voters. In those days, my parents wore smart clothings to their polling centre just in case they needed to run from political thugs. We were also warned to stay indoors throughout the day. Today, nothing has changed in how we conduct our election.
However, we ave a lot to learn from the West as far as democracy is concerned. In fact, by now, we should be talking about Diaspora voting and mail voting, but I doubt it if we are ready for this in Nigeria.
For example, my wife knew she would not be able to go to the polling centre to vote on the day of the referendum because of her work, and she had her vote mailed a day before the opening of polling centres.
I pray for a day when Nigeria will be so advanced democratically, and the day will only come when politicians begin to see that serving the people is not by force; a day when politicians will resign at will when they know they can’t fulfil the wishes of their people.
- Oladele Adeyanju,