Archive for the ‘University of Ibadan’ Category
“It doesn’t really matter who wins,” Ifeanyi, a post-graduate student in geography at UI said about the election for Senate and House of Representatives. “What matters is that the election is credible so if something goes wrong the only people we can blame are ourselves.”
Say no to election rigging
At Awo, around forty people huddled around a small table, all eyes transfixed on the stack of long paper ballots as the official counted each one, one to 202.
Down the road at Queen Idia Hall, a girls’ dormitory, observers stood and sat at the edge of an invisible makeshift barrier, five-feet away from the clear plastic ballot boxes as the ladyofficiating held each of the 216 votes in the air, enunciating each increasing number clearly. Boys at Independence Hall hung over the balconies, stood on ledges, ran up and down halls with brooms in the air, cheering and yelling as the INEC official counted the senate votes for their favored political parties.
Everyone who made the choice to stand for the hour or so it took to manually count the votes did so for the prospect of a fair and credible election.
This is Nigeria’s third democratic election since the end of Sani Abacha’s military rule in 1999 and people are determined to make it the most transparent. In the previous two elections, voting officials at each polling place carried the ballot boxes away to local headquarters to count the votes. Later, they would announce a number that was almost always surely altered. The votes would inflate or deflate somehow to guarantee the candidates favored by people in power ascended. Other times, politically aligned thugs stormed polling places to steal ballot boxes full of votes. Politicians even paid people to vote for or against a certain candidate multiple times.
After the polls closed in UI, officials counted every vote in the box right in front of the people while security guards and police stood guard. Newspapers reported that police shot six thugs who tried to steal ballot boxes in Delta State Saturday.
To make it impossible for one person to vote multiple times all voters have to be accredited on the day of voting. Voters line up from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. to receive an indelible marker mark on their left hand nails that shows they have been accredited. Voting starts at noon and only accredited people can vote. After you vote, officials draw another indelible ink mark on your right hand nails.
“If they do the same thing they are doing [at the Obafemi Awolowo Hall polling place] throughout the country, then we will be very happy,” Abeni, a female teacher and doctor living in UI said in Yoruba.
June 12th, 1993 is a date engrained in Nigeria’s memory as the country’s most fair and credible presidential election that resulted in one of the biggest disappointments in its history. The most popular candidate, M.K.O. Abiola, won and in an act of power, the military dictator of the time, Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election and paved the way for six more years of harsh military rule.
Many Nigerians are doing everything they can to see that this year’s election is the start of a new chapter, a true democracy.
Peaceful but poor turnout
Signs of a peaceful voting process were evident all over the UI campus Saturday. Walking along the leafy empty streets where few cars or okadas passed and the only sounds were the shrill squawk of birds sharply contrasted the chatter and excitement at each polling place.
The President of UI’s Students’ Union, Tokunbo Salako, better known as T-Cool, visited each of the eight polling places within UI Saturday and reported fewer students than expected at the polls. He noted multiple reasons for the low number of accredited people compared to the high number of people registered.
“Students don’t know who they want to vote for,” T-Cool said in Yoruba. “Or they have no patience to wait to be accredited. Some students also think they aren’t serious because they pushed the election forward.”
At Awolowo Hall, 1,421 people registered to vote and only 244 actually accredited.
T-Cool says he thinks the number of voters will increase with the presidential and gubernatorial elections coming up on April 16, and April 26 respectively. Candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives races are not as well known to students so they did not get out to the polls en masse, he said.
Omolara, a fourth year undergraduate studying Communications Language Arts held a megaphone in her hand as she stood behind the crowd of students listening to the vote count at Idia Hall. She walked around her hall that morning encouraging students to vote. “Ibo e, eto e ni, (your vote is your right)” she announced through the megaphone.
Back at Awo Hall, Ifeanyi saw the election process out from start to finish around 4 p.m. to see that “we get it right.”
“Barack Obama said Africa needs strong institutions, not strong men,” he said. “This is the only way we can have a stronger institution. If what we are witnessing here should spread throughout the country, then I think we are on our way.”
The hot sand can burn their feet, the vast assortment of sharp trash on the ground can cut them, walking through puddles of stagnant water after the rains can give them terrible parasites. The list goes on. On the day of the presentation, we met laughs, lyrical songs, and loud voices of the small school children. Poverty was apparent there. Some kids didn’t have shoes or the money to fix their torn blue and white striped school uniforms. Pictures alone could not capture the mood of that morning, so I made this video to share with everyone.
The assignment was about community mobilization- encouraging a community of people to address an issue and see that they worked together towards the solution. Professor Ojebode told the fifty of us in the Communication Development class that we were to choose a primary school within the University of Ibadan campus or outside in the city to do a mobilization project about hand washing. Why it is important for kids to wash their hands, when they should wash and what they can wash with if there is no water. My group decided to take another route. We chose St. Matthews Primary School in Ajibode, a neighborhood just on the other side of a very threatening bridge far out in the UI campus. Our topic was wearing shoes, why it’s important and what can happen if you do not wear shoes. Many school children in Nigeria walk barefoot outside regularly.
Today, April 2nd, 2011, is the first of three consecutive Saturdays of the national election. Today, millions of Nigerians will go to their polling places, wait for obscene amounts of time to elect members of the National Assembly. Nigerians will elect 90 senators and 360 members of the House of Representatives today, choosing candidates from over 50 political parties.
Next Saturday, April 9th is the presidential election, followed by the elections for state governor on April 16.
The buzz word for the next three weeks is “no movement.” Everybody is planning to stay at home on Saturdays, and not move around outside too much because political groups are prone to fighting in the streets and we innocent citizens do not want to be caught in the cross-fire. So for the next three Saturdays I will not be leaving University of Ibadan campus. I will be going around to the UI polling places for the next three Saturday’s to do my own investigation and add insight to the mix.
To put it out in the open, no, I am not voting because I am not Nigerian. You would be surprised at the number of people who ask me that.
234Next, one of Nigeria’s independent newspapers is doing minute by minute coverage of the vote. I am watching it attentively.
Now I am off to the field to find out just what is going on. Follow me on Twitter @TitiOyinbo to see what I uncover.
Hard to believe it’s already February 7th. The dry heat of the harmattan teased us with a short return, but now it’s back to the sticky, wet, unbearably hot humidity. Most of my friends in Wisconsin are probably still reeling from last night’s Super Bowl win. I decided not to watch the game because it would have meant staying up until 5 a.m. In a country where hardly anyone knows what the Super Bowl is, I figured I could forgo it this year. Congratulations to all the Packers fans out there.
I took these pictures today in between my two classes and many conversations with professors and students about the situation in Egypt. An interesting story is coming about Nigerian’s opinions of the revolutions spreading through many of Africa’s Arab countries.
I appreciate the architecture around University of Ibadan so much because of how geometric it is. So many of the buildings build tessellations into their design. You see repeating shapes on buildings all over. They all catch my eye and add to the beauty of this campus.
Well it’s 12 days into the new year, over a month after we thought we would be starting class at the University of Ibadan, and neither classes nor registration has started yet. Our Yoruba teachers at the Language Flagship center on campus have finally decided to resume Yoruba classes while we wait for U.I. to get organized. U.I. was supposed to start on December 6th but the professors requested more time off for break so they extended the date to January 3rd. Now I hear registration hasn’t even started for some reason unknown to me, so we won’t start classes until next week at the earliest. I have come to understand that this is just Nigeria, nothing happens on time. We have been on break from all classes for the past two and a half months but at least signs of academic life are starting to show. Freshers are starting to pour into campus. Shiny faced girls with brand new weave ons walk in packs, exploring their new home. Really young looking boys with tight jeans and black rimmed glasses saunter around, looking all freshman like. Campus is coming to life. In Nigeria, first year University students are usually between 16 and 18 years old. They go to University after completing SS3 (secondary school level 3) and after taking the WAEC (West African Examination Council) exam.
Starting a new college semester is always something I look forward to. The idea of getting back in the academic and social groove with fascinating classes excites me. Reuniting with friends and meeting new ones in classes is the best. But this semester I have a totally different set of nerves. I am anxious but patient, excited but fearful. Overall, I am ready. Academically, I have no idea what to expect from this semester at the University of Ibadan. Will it be difficult? Will I have to study hard? I don’t even understand how we register for classes. Friends is an entirely other situation since I will know absolutely no one on the first day but everyone will surround me and ask me mine. It already takes me twice as long to walk home as it did four days ago because of all the people– complete strangers and people I’ve met once and don’t remember at all–who greet me on the way. At least all of the University classes are in English (except the foreign language classes) so I can soak up the new environment with the ease of understanding the professor without too much attention.