Underage Voting and Rigging, Bane to Democracy – Nanzing Dogo

When I saw the video above I got very worried, not because this is the first time I have witnessed minors voting but because this practice has been allowed to fester to a point it’s now becoming a norm in some parts of Nigeria.

My first encounter with underage voting was when as a supervisor flying the badge of a political party during the 2015 general election, myself & my partner made a brief stop at one of the poling unit in jos north.

On the queue right under the watchful eyes of security agents, INEC officials & observers are children waiting to cast their votes. It’s true that one can’t accurately determine the age of a person by merely looking at him but it’s easy to deduce that these kids with voters cards ready to cast their votes are barely 13!

Rigging in elections comes in different forms, it can be through massive thumb printing of ballot papers to favour a particular party.
It can be through the use of underage voters….minors to vote in favor of a political party.
It can be through deliberate sabotage and manipulation of electronic voting machine (done solely by INEC officials)
It can be through doctoring of vote count to favor a particular political party.
It can be through intimidation & harassment of voters to vote in favor of a political party.
It may be through coercion or giving of incentives to sway voters into casting their lot in favor of a political party.

From my experience, It’s important to note that the only way an election can be rigged successfully is when there is a connivance between INEC officials, security agencies & party agents.

In some cases, traditional rulers & religious leaders have also join been known to join in the conspiracy depending on their interest.

From my experience, the only reason the 2015 election in plateau state was a success (though there were election malpractices done by the APC & PDP) was because of the involvement of everyone in casting their votes, waiting for it to be counted & escorting the votes to INEC offices. Away from the practice in the past where hoodlums, political yours were allowed to take over activities in the electoral wards & pooling units, highly educated men & women with proven integrity took it upon themselves to actively participate in the electioneering process. An example is a Consultant( Medical Doctor) who also happens to be the head of a unit in jos university teaching hospital offered to be an agent in his pooling unit!
there are cases of several people like that, lecturers, lawyers, Doctors, Business men offered to serve in one capacity or the other.

The media, Civil societies, Human Rights organizations, professional bodies & non political affiliated groups like the Coalition of Plateau Professionals (CPP) also played very important roles in the success of the election.
It’s my earnest desire that we have more of such groups springing up.

I must say the social media arguably played a very role In ensuring the number of votes were not doctored, how you may ask. If the number of votes in a pooling unit is counted in the presence of everyone & the number of votes is 10, many people with phones quickly upload the scores on the social media hence reducing the possibilities of announcing a false figure. One may argue that the social media also posed some concerns as it relates to spreading of misleading results….this also is true. One must be careful not post misleading or altered information on his/her timeline. We all are responsible for what we post.

In exactly 12months we shall ALL be heading to the polls for another general election, it’s my desire that those who played active roles which led to the success of the last general elections will not retreat back to their tents but will build on the lapses noticed in 2015 & cash in on the gains made.
It’s not OK to only cast your votes then leave everything in the hands of hoodlums who can sell our collective future for a pack of cigarettes!
We must all be involved in the process that will bring about credible leaders who will lead us for the next four years.

Remember, go register, get your PVC if you don’t have or it’s damaged or lost.
You can simply walk into the INEC office or registration center near you to make enquiries or register to get a new voter card.

Dogo Nanzing a media strategist writes from jos.

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Underage Voting and Rigging, Bane to Democracy – Nanzing Dogo

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