It was Hilary Clinton who once said that “Voting is the most precious right of every citizen, and we have a moral obligation to ensure the integrity of our voting process”. This statement cannot be more true for us as a country as we approach the election period.
However, as we exercise our civic rights, there is a need for more security consciousness on the part of every citizen of our great Nation Nigeria in the event of pockets of campaign violence. As the window allowed by INEC for the collection of the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) has closed, all personnel who do not have their PVCs are advised to stay away from the polling centres in the interest of their personal security.
Here are a few tips to ensure your safety during this period:
For intending voters with PVCs;
- Ensure you locate the ward where you are expected to vote in advance.
- Familiarize yourself with the voting schedule and keep a close tab on political events with possible security implications around your area.
- Ensure you carry your PVC before departing your home.
- Wear light clothing, comfortable shoes and plan to arrive at your voting ward early. Remember that there will be vehicular movement restrictions and you may have to walk for long distances.
- Do not take children along to the polling booth.
- Take along with you light refreshments and other basic things that will make you comfortable during the exercise
- Avoid wearing clothing or carrying items with company or political insignia which may give you unwanted attention. Also, avoid wearing heavy jewelleries and items with ornamental value
- Ensure your phone is fully charged and take a spare battery if available.
- Consider going to your ward in groups or with people you are familiar with.
- Avoid engaging in political discussions at the centres as these could easily turn violent. It is advised that you depart as soon as you are done casting your vote.
- In the event that hoodlums invade the polling unit or attempt to snatch ballot boxes, leave the vicinity immediately.
- Do not accept gifts or handouts of any kind at the polling station.
After the elections:
- Keep your PVC safe.
- Monitor local media and other sources for regular updates of the security situation and keep all Emergency Contact Numbers handy.
- Whatever the outcome of the elections, be moderate in your discussions as political debates could easily turn violent.
- Do not be lured into possible post-election protests if your favoured candidate does not win.
- Finally, allow a few days clear after the elections before embarking on any long distance road trip (especially inter State) so as not to be trapped in possible violent clashes.
Be reminded that you are primarily responsible for your personal security; do consider it above everything else. Most importantly, participate and VOTE during this Election because voting is your civic responsibility.