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Our First Time

Today is Election Day in Nigeria and I am aware that Nigerians are flooding polling stations amass to vote for who they want to lead us on for the next four years. I lived in Nigeria for 14 years, since I was born there and only for this election have I paid close attention to the public’s views and cared much about an election in Nigeria. Again, I was only a child while I was still living in Nigeria so as you can imagine Disney movies were more of a priority to me than observing arguments and reading well-thought-out articles with respect to an upcoming election. However, most times, the arguments and the newspaper headlines on elections, were sort of in my face and hardly avoidable. They would be centred on voting based on religious and cultural similarities.

I have followed the 2015 Election discussions for a while now and it is not what it used to be. Thanks to social media, for months and today, I have observed Nigerians’ zeal for whatever they think is change and for whomever they think will bring that change. I would go on social media and people were interested in the presidential debates, they were interested in the past successes and failures of the presidential candidates. What has been happening this time around is beautiful and I am in shock. A few years ago, not many cared so much about these. Religion, tribe and state, would determine who is well qualified to lead a nation that is undisputedly one of Africa’s greatest (both in population and economy size). Today, even displaced persons from Northern Nigeria are going out to cast their votes. The latter debunks a popular proposition by academics that people of low socioeconomic status do not vote. I am happily shocked at this development. Nigerians have been through a lot.

For decades, our resources have been looted by even our own people. In recent years, terrorism has nearly become synonymous with the nation. Several people are living in poverty in Nigeria. The insurgence of Boko Haram has made many become displaced persons and several have fled Nigeria as refugees. Soldiers are not well-equipped. Over 200 school girls were abducted last year and our nation could not save them. I was told Nigeria used to help other nations fight wars. So you see, Nigeria is in a state of concern. For years, we have treated the Presidential election process as an experiment and the consequences have been dire. So, I am surprised to see the nature of the debates among the public change but I understand why it would.

Today, Nigerians are making history. I have never seen the public so zealous for change for the good of all Nigerians. I stand proud of my people. We are so ready for change that I see it becoming a reality. Well done, Nigerians. Thank you for today. I hope that whoever wins this election will bring the change that we so desperately seek and need.

2014, leading up to this day, marks the the first time that age and maturity have let me pay very close attention towards a Presidential Election, in Nigeria. I am so glad that in the future, I can talk about this experience and say that my first time was very special.

Best of luck to Nigeria,

Chiamaka

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