Elections in Nigeria offer different experiences to different demographics.
For a young child in nursery or primary school, the election period is an unconventional holiday—but a welcomed one, nonetheless. For older Nigerians, as is the case for many this year, the polls are a matter of life and death.
Since 2015, the general elections have received February commencement dates. The 2015 presidential elections took place on the 28th and 29th of March, 2015, after being initially slated for February 14th.
Four years later, Nigerians trooped to the polls on the 23rd of February, 2019. Each of these elections possessed a unique flavour. The lessons from both are now seen influencing the general outlook of the 2023 elections.
However, there are a few constants that have emerged over the years for Nigerian elections. If you have been in Nigeria for at least one election, the following constants may strike some nostalgic chords in you:
Before voting queues sprawl, registered voters must turn up at their respective polling units for accreditation on the morning of elections.
Accreditation is the penultimate step of the electoral process, as far as voters are concerned.
However, experience has shown that the voting pool thins a bit further during accreditation. It is left to be seen, whether this trend will repeat itself.
Empty Streets and Evening Football
Voting typically dials down around 4 pm. Vehicular movement resumes. This, however, does not deter the predominantly made youth from trooping to the streets to enjoy a game of football.
Be it a small goalpost with or without a net, a pair of car tyres or a stack of small stones, election day is just another Saturday for the football lovers among the populace.
A lot of things happen during election periods in Nigeria. At the same time, a handful of things do not occur.
There is a tendency that reports of violence and riots would make the rounds during the elections. Some—in fact, most—will be true. However, discernment and verification are key.
One must be prepared to run social media searches and follow the news closely, to mitigate the likelihood of misinforming other citizens. After all, the emotions of the average Nigerian rarely get hugger than they are, during elections.
A Generally Quiet Atmosphere
The absence of vehicular movement contributes significantly to the largely quiet atmosphere on election day. It offers the perfect backdrop for sleep, work, and literally anything else—especially after you must have voted.
Brief spells of noise owing to different reasons are bound to ensue, however.