News:2015 presidential election

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Nigerians have waited for this day
with a burning desire. Although today
may mean different things to different
people in the world, it is a spectacular
day for most Nigerians. It is the fifth
time since the return of democracy
they will be casting their votes to elect
their next president. While many of
them had participated in the past
elections as electorates, this is the first
election some of them will be legally
allowed to participate. Until the law
book says otherwise, it is illegal in
today’s Nigeria for persons under the
age of 18 to vote. No doubt, a number
of voters in this election just turn 18.
Like the candidates in today’s election,
these set of voters have something at
stake: exercise of their civic rights.
Only time, not any prophet, will tell
how these set of voters will utilise
their electoral power.
As time eats away the anxiety of the
political actors and the electorates, it
is, however, imperative to know that
several factors will determine the
success or otherwise of today’s
decisive election. One of such factors
that have been overlooked by many
political analysts is internal migration
or relocation of voters. The more
internal migrants there are, the less
the number of voters that may come
out for the elections, and vice versa.
As in other parts of Africa, internal
migration in Nigeria is fuelled by a
number of factors-the most notable
ones being economic recession,
economic growth, education,
marriage, civil service transfer and
national service.
Although it is well known that people
migrate for mostly socio-economic
reasons, it is sad to know that in the
last few years when Boko Haram
members rained havoc in some parts
of Northern Nigerian, many Nigerians
have been forced to migrate from the
affected parts to other ‘safer’ areas.
But it is pathetic that many of those
who migrated from their former
places of abode will not be voting
today; they are just going to be
spectators in one of Nigerian’s most
keenly contested elections.
Their movement is their downfall in
this case. Since some of these internal
migrants had registered in their
former places of residence, they will
not allowed to vote wherever they
have ran to for safety, even when they
have the magical voters’ permanent
cards (PVCs) with them. You may not
be wrong to think that many of these
migrants had left their abode without
their PVCs. Safety, not PVCs, was
uppermost in their hearts at the time
of their hurried movement.
The electoral umpire, the
Independent Electoral Commission
(INEC), had said it would allow any
electorate to vote aside where he or
she had registered, without
precautionary measures. It is a big
crime the umpire will not take nightly.
Some of the internal migrants who
will not be voting in today’s elections
were not, however, forced into such
predicament by terrorism alone.
While some of them had done their
voter’s registration while in higher
institutions of learning, others did
theirs in their work place. Some
students who register in higher
institutions of learning may not vote
today, as most of these institutions
have closed for the elections.
These students are back home to
where they will remain as ‘election
observers’. If there is electricity, most
of these students, instead of going
out to vote, will be listening to the
election analysts and permutation
commentators. That may not be a
plus to the electoral system. Closely
following these groups of ‘returnees’,
are former students of higher learning
who have graduated into the National
Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
Even though a high number of NYSC
members will be acting as ad hoc
members during today’s election,
many of them may not vote for the
same reason that will make other
internal migrants not vote. Their only
‘glory’ in today’s election is that they
are rendering ‘essential’ service to
their father’s land.
Similarly, some other persons who
have recently graduated into the work
environment may not be able to vote
because they may not be able to
travel to where they register for vote.
The story of Mr Sunday Amuka, a
Lagos-based banker, illustrated the
scenario of this class of persons.
Amuka told The Guardian in Lagos
that he would not vote, because he
could not travel to Ibadan to collect
his PVC. “
I registered in Ibadan, Oyo State,
when I was a student of the University
of Ibadan (IU). Because I work in the
banking sector, I could not travel to
Ibadan from Lagos to collect my PVC,”
Amuka told The Guardian. Another
former student of Ambrose Alli
University (AAU), Mr Kingsley
Okoduwa, similarly told The Guardian
in Lagos that there was way he would
travel to Edo State from Lagos to cast
his vote.
“Although the election is fundamental
to the nation’s wellbeing, I cannot take
the risk of traveling for six hours to go
and vote in the university premises in
Ekpoma, Edo State, where I had
registered,” Okoduwa told The
Guardian. Similarly, Mr Peter Adeyemi
told The Guardian that he and his wife
would not vote today because they
registered in their work place, which
are miles away from where they
reside.
Marriage is one key phenomenon that
often force several young couples to
relocate. While such relocation is
often viewed as positive development
for young couples, it is no doubt
going to affect the civic rights of some
of the young couple who got married
and relocated within the last four
years.
Although they may have their PVCs,
they may not dare to risk their lives to
whenever they register to vote. That is
the predicament of Mrs. Maria Ariaka
and her husband, Mark, who both
relocated from Surulere to Gbagada in
Lagos. “We have our PVCs,” Mrs Ariaka
said.
“But that is where our story end. We
cannot move from Gbagada to
Surulere on the day of election to
vote, even though we would have
loved to exercise our civic right.” If
information in public domain is
anything to go by, some Nigerians
who have relocated abroad will not
vote today.
According to those in the know, some
Nigerians with the wherewithal have
recently relocated to anywhere outside
Nigeria, in a bid to escape possible
violence. The greater the number of
these people, the greater the loss to
there will be to the electoral votes.
To some observers, internal migration
affects a number of electorates
because they have not make use of
some the provisions in the Electoral
Act, which give a leeway for
electorates to vote irrespective of
where they may be in Nigeria during
elections.
Section 13 (1) of the Electoral Act says:
“A person who before the election is
resident in a constituency other than
the one in which he was registered
may apply to the Resident Electoral
Commissioner of the State where he
is currently resident for his name to
be entered on the transferred voters’
list for the constituency.” It adds in
subsection (2) that: “An application
under subsection (1) of this section
shall be accompanied by the
applicant’s voter’s card and shall be
made not less than 30 days before the
date of an election in the constituency
where the applicant is resident.”
Observers believe that the more
internal migrants make use of such
provisions, the less the number of
Nigerians that will be disenfranchise
during elections.

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