It is no longer news that Nigerians will go to the polls in April, to elect new leaders – President/Vice President, legislators, governors, etc. Due to the problems with the existing Voters’ Register, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will conduct a 2-week registration exercise from this weekend, January 15, to January 29. I think the following action points may be of help:
1. The first thing to do may be to decide where you’ll be at the time of elections, and register close to that location. For example, if your office is far away from your home, it is best to register where you live. Remember that elections take place during the weekend (April 2, 9 and 16) and movement may be restricted.
2. When you’ve decided where you’ll be (or at least where you think you will be), search for the identification document(s) you’ll need to register. INEC requires your “birth or baptismal certificate; national passport or national identity card; driver’s licence or any other document that will prove the identity, age and nationality of the person“. For instance, if your international passport is your preferred identification document but it’s going to be with an embassy around that time, have your driver’s license ready. If your driver’s license has expired, search for your birth certificate or renew your license immediately.
3. Locate the nearest polling booth to your residence or where you’ll be on election dates. You can visit the EiE Nigeria website, contact a political party secretariat, go to the nearest local government office and/or watch out for voter education programmes by INEC and others on radio and television.
4. You can also watch out for alternative methods of identifying polling stations that will be announced by independent organisations such as Enough is Enough Nigeria. For example, it could be possible to send text messages to dedicated numbers that will respond with location information, hotlines you can call, voter registration drives, etc.
5. Since the registration centre is close to your residence, please try to locate the centre physically beforehand. Remember that in certain areas of Lagos, for example, addresses may be difficult to find – especially when you need them the most. 🙂
6. Call your friends, colleagues, enemies and relatives who stay close to you with the information that you have. If they don’t reside in the same area as you, ask them to do what you have done. Follow up between January 15 and 29 to ensure that everyone you know — including every Facebook friend and twitter follower — registers.
7. The day before you register, ensure you have your identification documents and camera (or camera-enabled phone) to hand.
8. On the day of registration, try and go for the exercise in groups for solidarity and other reasons.
9. Take pictures of your friends while registering, and make sure they take pictures of you while you’re registering. Why don’t you take a group picture holding up your registration cards? That will encourage other young Nigerians who see the picture to register.
10. Post the pictures to Facebook. Comment on your pictures and others’. Tweet about your experience. Whatever else you do, have fun registering to express your voting rights.
11. Remember that registration is only R in the RSVP process. Get ready to Select credible candidates, Vote on election days, and Protect your votes.
This is 2011, our votes will count!