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Voter Registration vs Immunization cards: Missed opportunities in Nigeria

by ndubuisi edeoga

We are all still lamenting the use of our money for frivolous independence celebrations. Now we are stuck with the bill for the voter’s registration touted to be the “MOST EXPENSIVE” in the world, see here.

Compare the cost of voter registration in India,one of the so-called emerging economies. According to a publication by Krishna Murthy, Chief Election Commissioner of India. The country’s cost per registered voter stands at $0.62, while the cost in Nigeria, voter registration estimates translates to a cost of N1, 292.3 ($8.6) per registered voter, the highest per capita cost for registering a voter anywhere in the world.

Voter registration is important for our future elections…absolutely important. However, the uncontrolled and excessive misuse of funds that could be allocated to other important aspects of nationhood has to be pointed out and addressed.

The process of voter registration could and should be linked to National ID card project as well as  the issuing of immunization cards to our children, driving licences or any other process of identifying people in our country.

I have often wondered why is there not much fanfare, anxiety, noise and large contracts going to the documentation and proof of immunization of our children. A friend of mine told me of how he moved from Nigeria to the USA and is in the process of registering his kids in a new school, and one of the requirements for enrolling his kids was to show proof of immunizations in the form of an immunization card. Well he had to navigate a lot of mountains just to get that. Meanwhile he is a doctor and had no records of immunising his children in Nigeria.

I then asked around all the ritzy, high class schools in Abuja, about any school that needed evidence of immunization before a child was registered to school… one asks….no one cares. These schools would proclaim that they provide as good an education as anywhere else in the world…and I do not doubt that they do. But how come they are not ensuring that their intended wards are safe, ready and alive for the future?

The blame lies at the feet of our leaders. The same leaders that are falling over themselves to spend our money on the most expensive voter registration in the world. The same leaders that would not spend any money on the “voter (read = immunization) registration” of our kids. I also blame us. Why are we not putting the same pressure that we put on government on voter registration on the immunisation records for our children?

Like we don’t have enough problems already, measles is making a come back. According to this report, see here. Reported cases of measles in some parts of the country from 455 confirmed cases in 2009 to 4,771 as at yesterday.

We need to rethink our priorities. Lets start registering our kids, lets get a head count of how many kids are immunized, and lets start making sure that no one is left behind as we jostle for the voter registration windfall….

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead

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