In any society, there are rules, regulations, laws, norms, code of conduct… call it whatever. Civilization and modernity are all about doing things in a way that differentiates humans from the
animals in the jungle.
A Yoruba Adage says that, where there is no law, there can be no offense.
What of a situation where there is a law, but there is no one to enforce the law, the person saddled with the responsibility of enforcing fails to do so, or there is no repercussion for breaking the law?
Bedlam. Pandemonium. Confusion.
This post is born out of the gruelling five hours I spent, on my feet, at a Secondary school in the quest for me to be a good citizen, and procure my Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC).
I can’t complain about poor governance, if I fail to vote, can I?
I shall not bore you with the countless runarounds before the location for the collection could be ascertained.
The last time I did that kind of forced exercise was in the late eighties, during my service year. There were pregnant women, senior citizens who were made to queue in the sun. I was on my feet for five hours. Shoving, pushing, pacifying, shouting, imploring.
First off, the INEC officials arrived at about 10.15am. I was informed that the INEC officials did not show up, at all, the previous day, despite being mandated to do so. Logistic problems, no
doubt. Being a Friday, my assumption that the volume of people would be small was horribly wrong. Are we now compelled to leave our places of business because of the non performance of INEC? The manhours lost is better imagined. We had about eight officials trying to fish out the PVCs of what must have been up to two thousand people.
With nobody to control the crowd, and with the real danger of not achieving your aim, every one was anxious. Depending on your psychological makeup, anxiety could bring out unwholesome behaviour. The level of disorderliness and indiscipline on display by those
trying to replace their Temporary Voter’s Card (TVC) with the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) had a surreal quality.
One Would think that, the conventional way to attend to a multitude of people is in terms of ‘first come, first served’ basis. Queue up, get attended to, leave.
But, no, it was more a matter of how stridently you can shout, how adroit you are at elbowing others away. It boiled down to how assertive, domineering and bossy you are in pushing your bulk, and your case, to the fore !
Grown up men and women, with their tempers on a short fuse almost resorted to fistcuffs. I saw a man threaten to slap another man old enough to be his Dad, a woman holding on tightly to the shirt front of a full grown man, raining expletives .. grown men and women conducting themselves like school children with the teacher on AWOL.
Surely, things can be better organized.?
The situation on the ground then was that you have to be unruly, shout, shove like the tumultuous crowd. Otherwise, people would keep jumping the queue.. ahead of you… and you would simply not achieve your objective – collecting the PVC card. I saw several people, gentlemen and ladies, who refused to join the cacophony, amd simply turned back, and left.
Yours truly was finally able to Procure The Card at 3.30 pm in the afternoon, having got there since 9.00 am.It was a combination of luck, decorum, assertivenes and areaboyishness that did the trick.
As I type this, I already have a cough, likely attributable to the uproarious crowd, inhaled dust, cantankerous shouting and the long period spent pushing and shoving in the scorching sun.
All the confusion and stress that lots of eligible voters are experiencing (in displaying their patriotism) could have been avoided easily.
A law abiding, gentlemanly behaviour often does not yield (fast) results in this land. The patient dog often eats no bones, because the faster and impatient ones have devoured all the bones.
Advance planning. Adequate personnel. Timely release of funds for electoral activities. All these would have gone a long way to ensure a smooth exercise.
But then….. anything happens here.