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As the year 2018 draws nearer to a close, a lot of people are already waiting eagerly to see what 2019 will turn out to be. The reason is no other than the year when there may be exit of a present government, entrance of a new government or retention of the existing government. It is the year of the Nigerian Elections as well as the handover or continuation.
The different parties have done their primaries and come out with their candidates who will contest against each other for a winner to emerge. All the parties may be seen to have different agendas and structure but they all have one thing in common- TOUTS. These touts are the foot soldiers of the Nigerian politics.
The call for Permanent Voters Card (PVC) is the song that is on the lips of supporters of the different candidates and the call to come out en-masse on that day to vote is the daily anthem but despite all these shouting, the political parties are quietly recruiting the foot soldiers who will put fear in the supporters of their opponents.
Unlike other developed countries, where those who are eligible to vote will do the needful during elections without being harassed, Nigeria is different. A lot of voters will not near the polling units for fear of been harassed or if one is unlucky, beaten mercilessly. These touts have various means of making the whole environment not conducive for voting. Some of them will smoke hemp which has repulsive smell; others will result to drinking strong and locally brewed alcoholic drinks to prepare them for fighting while the rest will use intimidating ploys to dissuade voters.
The effects of these touts is mostly felt in densely populated areas where the number of voters are much. The locations matters for them so that they can easily escape and blend in if they are being disturbed by law enforcement agents. Most voters can withstand the pressure but the fear is that most of these touts are thieves and they reside in the same area with them. after the election, voters may fall victims to them and in country where security is zero how would they survive the onslaught. It will be better not to get into their (touts) bad book. Another area where they also thrive is rural areas where they can intimidate the villagers. during election periods, these touts are equipped with dangerous weapons including sophisticated guns.
Going to the polling units in some locations is like going to meet the devil in his own palace. A lot of voters have had some terrible experiences in the past where they had their phones stolen, their clothes torn and some other indescribable acts on them. Majority of those who are not ready to go and get embarrassed for the sake of a candidate that will not care even if you get injured for him will rather sit at home or go to the polling units with the aim of observing what is happening. A lot of people will follow it on social media but never go to any polling units to vote while most business people and corporate workers will use that day for resting their nerves.
Lots of youths are gradually transforming into touts on the streets because 2019 will bring more money since two elephants are about to fight. The touts must be preparing hard, getting fiercer and then learning new intimidation tactics. Some of these touts are not the regular ones who will just threaten you and go away. These are hardened youths with a large chunk in both secret and open cults. To them, 2019 is their year of elevation. It is the year where their services will be needed and they are highly respected in the polling units. The money that has been sleeping has started waking up from their deep slumber and these touts know that they must get their hands on it before it goes back to sleep.
The only solution to eradication of touts in the Nigerian politics is when we start to vote electronically via the internet when you do not need to go any polling unit and get harassed. Until then TOUTS will continue to rule the polling units.