By Amarachi Okpunobi
“Young man, if you can’t find your Permanent voters card there, come back next week and stop scattering the others, you are wasting my time here”, the man at the INEC office uttered harshly.
Emeka who has been standing patiently searching for his PVC almost leached out on the unruly and arrogant officer but held back his anger. He just finished taking a lunch of Jollof rice, the man wasn’t worth his anger, he thought. He thus left angrily. Maybe, that was a sign that he shouldn’t go to the polling unit for the election
As he drove out of the INEC office, he dared and followed the one-way route. That was a very big catch for the police men who are readily standing by the road side awaiting defaulters of the traffic rules and regulations. Immediately, he saw the men in Black clothes, he knew he was in for trouble. Unfortunately, making a turn was not an option as the road was congested. Normal #50 will definitely not be enough for them.
The police men waved him down as he drove nearer. He slowly matched his brakes till the car came to a halt. Without hesitation, he came down from his car with his heart beating faster than his brain. He knew certainly that he was susceptible to all their claims; defaulting the traffic rules and regulations, expired drivers license and car papers incomplete. He already knew what they wanted, the money! They begin negotiation of prices. Maybe, this is actually what is wrong with Nigeria, corruption in all sectors of government.
“Park well, oga!, One of the police men shouted. Emeka ignited the car engine and moved to another direction. “Oya your particulars sharp sharp”, the officer ordered. Emeka went closer but slowly to the police officer to whisper something to him. Initially, the police man was proving been civilized but that could not hold water as he, in a few minutes complied to Emeka’s offer. Emeka quickly transferred some cash to the account number given by the police man. They shook hands together and Emeka sped off with mixed feelings; saving himself from the hands of hungry and greedy police men, but with great disappointment with INEC who out of incompetence has refused to produce his PVC when the presidential election was in less than two weeks.
In less than one week, Emeka went back to the INEC office, this time luck was on his side. The INEC officer was in a lighter mood too. He took his PVC happily and this time without driving the one-way.
It was the day for the election and Emeka alongside his friends was at the polling boot on time awaiting the election to commence proper. After the accreditation of cards, they waited for hours which seemed like a thousand days before the arrival of INEC officials at the booth. The crowd were shouting and the atmosphere was becoming rowdy. The Vigilantee group, Police men and Journalists filled the air too. Emeka wondered if his fatherland was ever going to be better than the way it is. But his hopes we’re high. Yes, his hope we’re high. He was going to cast his vote and with the votes of others who were going to do likewise. The air was also filled with loud voices of the crowd chattering for who was going to emerge the winner of the election. For Emeka, he knew it wasn’t the survival of the fittest but the victory of those that ragged best. All the same, he was going to vote for his own choice of president.
The queue was long and it was already getting to afternoon and Emeka was yet to cast his vote. He keenly observed what was going amiss in the unit. Party delegates were really bribing their way into the minds of people to get their vote. Various amonts for various parties. Nobody was an exception, the armed forces weren’t helping matters at all. The Journalists on their side, must have at the back been handed over brown envelopes and the truth sealed and buried.
Soon, it was Emeka’s turn to cast his vote. He moved towards the booth, his fingers inked. He was about placing his finger on the ballot paper when the gun was fired. The crowd ran helter skelter. The ballot paper was burning and the shooting was none stop. Emeka hid under one of the cars packed by for fear of joining his ancestors sooner than God had planned for him.
It was bloody and it became more bloody as the clock ticked. Young and vibrant blood were sent to the grave with no hesitation. Emeka felt goose pimples all over his body and tears dripped from his cheeks. His feet became cold and his heart was beating too fast. He thought he was going to die but silently prayed that he leaves the scene with a single breath still remaining in him.
Nigeria was never going to be better, Nigeria was never going to be better! he yelled.