So I will not lie and say that I am happy to be retyping this post.
I thought I had it saved on my phone but just couldn’t find it. Oh, I have to retype from my jotter back here… and yes oh, I wrote everything in my jotter as I didn’t take a phone to my polling unit(hereinafter referred to as P.U), sounds great to use “hereinafter’ abi? lol
Let’s just get to it…
But before we start, I purposely waited to post my experience now, after the wholeÂ electionÂ thing has died down because some persons thought that I was going to write aboutÂ my opinion about theÂ candidates or something(corpers are meant to be neutral in all of this) but no, please, this is just my personal experience as an officer during the elections.
I figure that I might enjoy reading it some years after I am done with NYSC.(yes I read my own blog, that’s why I have a personal memoirs category on the blog)
So if you wannaÂ read about what goes on behind the scenes during elections(officials duties) or if you just wanna read about how Frances had a big fall from a fence by past 5am in the morning, (yes I fell *sulking*) thenÂ read on.
So it all began on March 27th. I was posted to another town outside my PPA town, still within the same state though.
The day began with me happy and smiling and even taking some pictures with friends.
I got to INEC office early and helped to arrange some materials. Called my supervising presiding officer(S.P.O) and my Presiding officer(P.O) who said that he was still at home. In retrospect, I should have stayed at home and till evening instead of doing gra gra to get there early.
Snapped some pictures with fellow corpers (we didn’t know the work cut out for us then)
All went well and I went to my polling unit(P.U) on time, and had even settled down to read a book and rest when another drama started.
NewsÂ got to us that corpers from out of town were being paid 3000Naira.
My ears perked up.
I called my S.P.O who told me to stay put as I may not get a bus back to my P.U that night if I came back to INEC office.
But the thing about the “follow follow spirit” is a strong one.
Against my better judgement, I jumped in a cab and went alongÂ with one fellow warri corper that was just gingering others anyhow.
We got to INEC office and of course, like everything about money, they were done with sharing it.
And here’s where the real trouble started. I had no cab to get back to my P.U.
I made calls and I was told that I had to be there that night and I frantically boarded a bike to the park but met an empty park.
Thank God for some men I met there who tried to look for a bike for me to get to my P.U.(good Nigerians)
Now, my P.U is a village that you’d have to get to through a long stretch of a lonely and dark road and at that time of the night, there were no other cars plying the road.
I had no choice but to get on the bike and I started speaking in frantic tongues.
Like Lord, I am sorry. Please deliver me from this money-loving issue associated with corpers and get me safely to my P.U.
Please, I am sorry for following the crowd.
Like seriously, I was scared and cold.
In a moment of humour, I wish I could understand the tongues I was speaking so I’d know what the Spirit was saying.
Was He saying that “Lord, I know we have to purge her of the love of money, and she is stubborn but oh well, we’ve promised protection already…”
Anyways I got to my base safely(thank God) and oh, that will be the last time that I will ever follow the crowd rather than sound judgment.
We were all called for attendance and collection of materials at night and I finally met my P.O.
We had to sort out materials that same night and I finally slept off in my chair and table bed late at night.
Yes, our beds were to either be the school’s chair and table or the packed voting cubicles. (All the suffer head for Nigeria?)
Saturday morning – I was reminded of the reason why I originally hated going to new places.
Yes oh, forget this adventurous girl you see now that climbs mountains and hills, I used to hate seeing new places, especially during Church retreats.
I once cried when I saw the place where we were to live during a Church retreat and I almost cried again that morning before the elections.
I woke up later than others at past 5am and didn’t take a torch when I was going to fetch water to have my bath.
I was carrying the bucket of water to have my bath when I heard a huge thud, and that huge thud happened to emanate from my body that just hit the floor.
I didn’t know that I was standing on a short fence and the next step I took was a high jump from the fence to the floor – I fell flat on my face, broke the bucket and had stains on the khaki I was to wear that same day.
I almost cried, almost, I promise that I didn’t cry.
I wasn’t injured though but my body ached for days afterwards.
Went back to the classroom, got my torch light and had my bath….
Then in a bid to cheer myself up, snapped some selfies for this post that I knew that I would write.
Afterwards, I decided to steal a little bit of time to read my Bible when my P.O bounced in, accusing me of leaving all the work for him.
I tried to settle with him amicably when I heard him tell someone that “this useless A.P.O 1 and 2(I was A.P.O 2)
I just lost it (what with my fall, little sleep, terribly hard chair as my bed) and started talking and when I am angry I speak in full blown English – like big grammar, lol, loud voice and all.
And this lawyer thing, once we start talking, we can’t stop.(Lord, help me with this my flaw pls)
The whole class was begging me that “e don do”
I was saying no nah, because he thinks that I am quiet. (I have a quiet face and don’t talk in a crowd when I come in for the first time, so people assume that I am quiet- an aje – I laugh)
He refused to give me the ballot papers so I could count them and I started calling him boss – because on top Nigeria head you want to boss others.
We finally settled up and apologized to each other and I regretted ever loosing my cool. Moreso because everyone, even up until the next election knew me as the girl who quarrelled with her P.O.
I mean, I had just written do you look like Jesus as the Bible study on the blog just last week and frankly, I thought that I was beyond exchanging words in public.
I just had to tell God you still have to work on me PLEASE.
We settled up and I even bought him plantain chips during the election itself and we talked like normal and tried to forget the fight we had.
And then the main election started.
We started by 8am.
The accreditation went smoothly except of course like everyone knows, the machine took a while to verify the finger prints.
I was A.P.O 2, in charge of marking the voters register, then stamping and signing of ballot papers.
Also, inking the fingers of the voters.
I must say that the crowd was orderly and we even had old mama’s coming out to vote.
The votes were casted an counted and the winner declared.
My P.O sorted the votes, filled the result sheets and then the real madness began.
We had to fill forms, arrange the materials and collate the results with the collating officer.
Then submit the materials back to the S.P.O.
Now, picture 33 P.Us made up of 3persons all trying to do same in a class with no fan.
It was terrible.
I saw one corper saying that “I wan faint, if you nor collect this material from me, I swear, I go faint”
Another one was saying “I nor go ever do election things again, ever”
Me, I was stressed out and wanted to get back to my PPA town which was still some distance away.
We finally submitted materials and went to sit in a bus that was supposed to take us back to INEC office but guess what?
The bus only moved by past 1am in the night.
So we had corpers sleeping in the bus with their ajuwaya boots and khaki on.
When we passed through the dark road again, I couldn’t help but thank God for my safe journey on the bike – I mean, I didn’t know the bike man or the guys I met at the park but God preserved me.
Please don’t tell my dad that I risked my life for 3000Naira(oh Lord, deliver me from the corper’s thing about money)
We got back to INEC office by 2am and guess what? The place was still like a beehive.
Corpers were everywhere!
People were sleeping in plastic chairs, sitting on the stairs, literally anywhere you turn, you’d see a khaki wearing person at 2am at night.
I had nowhere to sleep so I roamed about for a bit but finally collected two of the packed voting cubicles, dragged it to a spot under a tree, used my bag as my pillow and had a very good night sleep!
The mosquitoes were kind too, they didn’t bite.
And we thank God for safety and peace, nothing out of the ordinary happened to me(us) throughout the first election.
We met the woman in charge of giving the 3k that made me risk my life the next morning and guess what? She said she would see us the next day at our PPA town.
You wanna know if I got the 3k?
Stay tuned to read my experience in the April 11th elections tomorrow…
No one ever told me that so much go behind the scenes of the elections that occur every 4years in Nigeria.
And I didn’t know that corpers used for the elections go through soooo much stress.
I woke up with my back aching on monday and I had to sleep in for about 2days straight.
Let’s just say that the money wasn’t worth it, I will just chalk this all up to experience – an experience that I will never go through again!
We had some returning corpers serving as officials during the elections too but Lord, that will not be me…amen!
I don’t want this post to be too long(its long enough as it is), so simply check back tomorrow, I will be posting the part two of the experience that I had to go through for
INEC moneyÂ my father land.
I’m a good girl aren’t I? 🙂
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TeggieApril 16, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Lol… As stressful as it was the experience was fun (for me though) the sleeping on the mat, Nigerians that won’t just understand, annoying SPOs, annoying/wicked + self_centered party agents, eating of gala/biscuit + soft drinks for 2 days etc… Something to talk and laugh about in the future. I definitely won’t do it again sha.
Frances OkoroApril 16, 2015 at 8:41 pm
How could I forget the wicked party agents? So na everywhere eh Teggie..mtcheww! Lol
I don’t know if it was fun oh, maybe I would see it as fun as at the time i’m passing out sha…
And mhen, I am definitely, definitely not doing this again!
Highly FavoredApril 16, 2015 at 4:48 pm
Sounds like a very rough experience you had. Thank God for your safety too. Looking forward to Part 2…
Frances OkoroApril 16, 2015 at 8:35 pm
Hah, really rough experience, the second one was better though.
Post oncoming…thanks Highly Favored
kekeApril 16, 2015 at 8:34 pm
Ahhhh I am very sure you didn’t get paid that 3k. I was just laughing as I read this post, too funny. But really thankful that no serious harm came to you apart from falling of course lol.
Frances OkoroApril 16, 2015 at 8:55 pm
Kai! Money issues is so predictable right Keke?
Kai! It pained me!!
Yes, someone read this and said that there was no rigging, he was disappointed at the gist, I told him that if there was rigging, I just might not be able to type this today.
I thank God for peace and safety.
ADE+TaiwoApril 16, 2015 at 10:56 pm
I was favoured enough to be posted within my ppa town, the collation centre happens to be just three houses away from our corpers’ lodge…you can bet i slept on my bed. but then I’m a PO incharge of two polling units… and thats the stressful part; having 7 APOs to work, 2 set of votes to count, 2 Result sheets to fill, and controlling a PU filled with over-sabi party agents. But all in all, its an experience i won’t want a repeat.
….& ehmnnn, on money matters, while I was busy trying to make sure things went well, my APO1 recieved a bulky envelope from a politician that came to vote and DISAPPEARED with it!
Frances OkoroApril 17, 2015 at 10:25 am
Ade!!! are you serious??
your APO disappeared with money?
oh my word!
is he a corper too or what?
he probably figured that he could leave INEC money and bail with that instead of sharing.
oh we need help with our youths oh.
and the party agents ba?
I tire for them over sabi people and verrrry stingy. pure water sef, lai lai.
but you manned two P.Us hope your pay will be double, cuz that’s not fair at all..
Chinomnso PreciousApril 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm
Wow! That’s some experience. But I love your attitude through it all.
Frances OkoroApril 17, 2015 at 11:08 pm
Thank you Princess…we can’t let the stress put a damper on our smile now can we? 🙂