Registration of Voters: A task that must be done Now!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Now is the long expected and awaited day and time for the immediate preparations for the 2015 General elections. Note, Wednesday, 28th May through Sunday 1st June 2014 have been dedicated by INEC for Voters Registration exercise. As patriotic citizens you are expected to go to your Ward Designated Centres and register.

In case you have registered in the last elections, your old cards are no longer valid. You are expected to go to these designated Registration Centres with your old voting cards for re-validation. You are not eligible to vote without the valid voting cards issued to you by INEC.

You will not be able to manufacture this card if this unique opportunity passes you by. If you have never registered and you are now 18 years of age, your time for registration has come. Be happy to do this. You have grown to become an important citizen of Nigeria capable of choosing your leaders.

Remember the time set out for this exercise is limited; it is only 4 effective days beginning at 8.00am till 4.00pm each day. You have no negotiating power without your voting cards. In fact, your citizenship without the ability to choose the leaders of your choice through the ballot box is incomplete.

And you will regret having missed this opportunity when the time for voting comes. It will be too late to reverse the situation. Therefore today is the day you must get up and find your way to the Registration centres. Kindly do not wait and think that an extension of date is possible!

Yes, Registration of Voters is a major step in the whole gamut of the electoral processes. Citizens with the minimum age of 18 are expected and are also mandated by law to register as voters for the elections. Participation in the electoral processes is impaired when citizens are not registered as voters.

In fact, while registration empowers the citizens to determine who receives the mandate of leadership, voters cards are the evidences thereof. It is that enabling instrument and the voice of the citizens. The absence of the voting cards is therefore your absence in the elections and also the absence of your voice in the sacred duty of choosing your leaders.

I hope you cannot afford to be so neglected and relegated to the background in the matters of such great magnitude. Now is the time to make a difference in the situation of facilities and structures in your towns through the wise use of voting cards. Be reminded once again, that you have no voice to be heard in the absence of your voting card!

Indeed, it is taken for granted that the citizens have spoken when the votes are cast. Yes, casting the votes is the exercise of one's franchise. It is a sacred duty. Therefore it is not enough to carry the voters' cards around, or to sell them to pot-bellied political money bags; it is most urgent to cast one's votes according one's consciences and convictions.

Voting during elections is that freedom to exercise one's right of choice. And it is an abuse of rights to neglect to do this. Yet, voting at elections is still not enough. One must keep watch over the votes cast. It is our bad political experience in Nigeria, that ballot boxes are often being snatched away from the officials of the electoral body after elections.

Hungry political party agents and thugs are recruited for the purposes of election rigging and manipulations of electoral results. This has occasioned several conflicts and marred several elections in Nigeria. And so, keeping watch over the ballot boxes has become an added duty of the electorates in ensuring credible elections in Nigeria.

Finally, if there are still abuses after these precautions, there are available legal processes and legitimate channels of protests, if INEC or any political party tampers with the elections or the results therefrom contrary to the popular decisions of the people!

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