I began my #RSVP (Register, Select, Vote and Protect) yesterday when I finally located an INEC registration centre in my ‘area’. As at 10.00 am, 50 people have already signed up but the youth corpers where just capturing the data of the first person. I caught word of another registration site nearby and off I went.
Like the first place, it was situated in the corridor of a private face-me-I-face-you apartment in the favela of Agbowo. I was given a number which was scribbled on a rough sheet of paper by one madam, a self-appointed INEC support staff. She ordered me to come back at mid-day. However, I needed not much persuasion as the INEC corpers were just setting up their tent and besides, I had work to do.
At 2.30 pm I returned to the centre to discover that mi turn never reach. On enquiring from one of the people who also came to register, I was told that the youth corpers were having a hard time with the Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines. All those who had registered earlier in the morning had to be called back as their data suddenly vanished from the DDC machine.
The two youth corpers in Irepodun looked bold and seem to be quite at ‘home’; in contrast with their two female colleagues who I encountered earlier. Those girls looked pitiable; you could capture the terror in their eyes – as if they were only waiting for wahala to break out!
There was a female police officer who was sitting on a very low kitchen stool opposite the INEC officials in Irepodun. Her uniform was sparking clean and crease could inflict a cut. She even had a pair of black socks on her well polished, though battered shoes. It was obvious that she was bored and only radiated despair. Drifting in and out of sleep, O/C (Officer-in-Charge) yawned, stretched and changed gear. I supposed the poor lady would have been more excited in her ‘normal beat’ – a police toll gate!
Yet the battle continued with the DDC machine. An old mama had washed her hands – with much more care – then gracefully wiped it dry on her buba. Prior to that, a mechanic had elicited a bout of laughter with his greasy hands. Someone threw a yab that even acid will not make his hands clean enough for the DDC to pick up his finger prints. Mama could only guess her age, she made us chuckle when the INEC corper dared asked for her address. Mama looked the young man in the eye and told him that he should choose which ever number, all she knows is that she lived in Irepudon. Her registration was fast, and then came another mama, who also had a fast registration.
A young lady, strapping her baby on her back, and who had fresh tomatoes displayed in what looked like cake cups (in their former life) stood up from her merchandise and walked up to be registered. However, she received a crash course by a local champion – Ms Intellect – who made her recite her name, age, profession and other data over and over again. As she was about sitting down, an elderly couple arrived. Of course, they were given VIP treatment, but the greyed haired agadi’s finger prints refused to be scanned. After several trials, they departed but after extracting a promise from the youth corpers to call them when the machines started working.
Altercations suddenly developed behind me between a young lady and a boy. The lady who had stratified face had inflamed the ire of the area urchins by telling them that since they were not up to 18, they have no business here. This ignited a generous exchange of insults and the noise woke the O/C from her slumber. As the boy was given a few slaps, by the neighbours, the post man arrived.
Clutching his mails like a collection of treasures, the NIPOST staff swaggered into the face-me-I-face-you flats. The residents of the house, were sitting in front of the house, gave him a tongue lash. Mr NIPOST, seeing that he had gaffed badly, apologised and made fun of himself. He massaged their vanity by retorting that seeing how well dressed they were, he never imagined that they were occupants of this mansion. The young ladies were obviously pleased with the postman’s oxymoronic compliments.
As soon as Mr NIPOST called out the name on the mail, all gathered round him. It must be a cheque, one of them uttered. The lady – Ms Intellect – that had given crash courses to the tomatoes trader naturally received the mail. She asked the NIPOST staff to give her the dispatch register for her to sign and was disappointed that there was none. While she lamented how standards have fallen in NIPOST, she carefully unsealed the envelope while predicting that it from its feel may must be a foreign cheque! When Ms Intellect finally unfolded the mail – a bank statement of account – her audience did not notice the difference!
I was jolted back to the INEC corpers since it was my turn to register. As soon as I sat down, the computer crashed. The corper switched it on and then the process of my registration commenced. After practically spelling out my name, the capturing of my 10 finger prints began. The right thumb wasted no time but on the second finger froze the DDC. Not even the cleaning and re-cleaning of the scanner and my finger with methylated spirit would thaw the scanner.
I advised the corper to reboot and we started afresh. With my experience in the voided attempt, I was not ready to allow the INEC corper to fiddle again with the notebook. I carefully shoved him aside and filled in my data personally. It’s a pity that a university graduate found it tortuous to key-in details into a computer and almost impossible to scrawl ‘publisher’. The dude changed my profession to ‘public’ and wrote same their register! As if prompted by my audacity, the laptop responded and viola I had my ten fingers scanned. By the time I completed the exercise, I look at my wristwatch and kai, two hours don waka! I only hope I get my card today.