Tuesday 26 April 2011

Meet Mr. Boss

Meet Mr. Boss. Mr. Boss, as he is fondly referred to by his employees, is in his late thirties, married, with 2.4 kids and I suspect a dog. He is comfortable enough to provide a bubble for himself and his family. If the government does not bring light, he can switch on his generator. If they don't bring water, he can dig his private bore hole. If they don't bring security, he and his neighbours can hire their own. No matter who is President of Nigeria, no matter if the elections are rigged, no matter if the military returns, Mr. Boss will most likely remain firmly entrenched in the upper middle class.

Every election day, Mr. Boss has arrived at 6:15am to set up his polling unit. Long before the corpers have arrived, long before the voters have even thought of accreditation. The man in red in his maiguard. The person who took the photo is his brother.

Here was what they set up last week Saturday during the presidential elections. The sticks are sourced from trees in his area, the string and chairs are from his private stock.
Here was what Mr. Boss and his friends set up this week. Friends I say because each week, when voters arrived and saw the job he had done, a few joined his band of merry men. When I asked why he felt the need to set up an enclosed area for the corpers and their ballot boxes, Mr. Boss replied that he did not want mayhem. "Nobody had access to the corpers as they sorted and counted," so they could do their jobs in peace.

Remember this from last week:
Voters who were disputing with the corpers got so close to the counting table that they had to be pushed back by a police man. Well none of that happened at Mr. Boss's P.U because the voting area was cordoned of and he and his brother created a "gate" so only a fixed number could vote at a time.
As voters arrived for accreditation, each was given a laminated card with a number on it. Last week, Mr. Boss made 800 of these cards to hand out to voters as they arrived. Voters were accredited according to their card numbers and they voted according to these numbers as well. What was the point of this, I asked? Remember this long queue from last week:

Well, as long as everybody had their card with them, they could be called to vote in batches according to their numbers. There was no need to queue at Mr. Boss's P.U. They voted in groups of twenty, so people sat down on chairs that Mr. Boss and his merry men provided, under a canopy that a voter provided and waited their turn. He says, "My brother and I processed entry into the the area and exit from it...while our two friends processed the line and called up the subsequent batches." Some people had picnics by the side of the road while they waited for their numbers to be called.

Last week, voters sitting comfortably and far from the corpers as they counted the votes.

This week voters sitting even more comfortably as they waited to be called. The man in the white shirt is about to open that red carton and share some drinks with his fellow voters.

At the end of the day, the corpers had smiles on their faces. No one had tried to kill them for doing their jobs. Instead, people like Mr. Boss had made the event peaceful and enjoyable even, there was an air of faaji around this P.U.

When I asked how he was bothered to do all this when as I've said earlier, the outcome of the election would make little difference to his life, Mr. Boss replied, "Well...someone has to sacrifice for the country otherwise all the booths would have been like the one in your parents area abi? If that's the price I had to pay to get it well organised then I'm ok with it..."

God rest the corpers who were killed in the North. The price they paid was too high. God bless Mr. Boss and raise up more like him. My name is Chibundu Onuzo. God Bless and good night.


  1. Me too mehn. Such suffer head is quite inspiring.

  2. Ayodeji (Mr. Boss)27 April 2011 at 11:07

    Hi All....This is "Mr. Boss" here...LOL!!!

    It wouldn't be fair if I do not put names to the other ABSOLUTELY GREAT people who I had the awesome privilege of working with during this exercise....

    First..my Brother Adeoluwa Thomas who is the most patient person I know on this earth and WHO worked his "people skills" tirelessly to ensure that everybody left with a smile on their faces even the ones that I almost killed for their very ungrateful comments and amazingly harsh reactions to how we were strict in ensuring the rule of law and order and doing things right at the PU....Bro u've got my vote to serve as an elected public servant anytime anyday cos you CERTAINLY have what it takes in you!

    Femi Badeji & Muyiwa Omogebnigun.....two ABSOLUTELY AMAZING guys who despite being senior staff in their Banking and Telecoms industry jobs still took out time each week to be there with us and worked tirelessly to maintain order on the lines especially in the batch processing of voters for accreditation and actual voting....with guys like you...this country TRULY has hope!

    Ita Hozaife & my favourite Nollywood Actress - Ufuoma Ejenobor (www.ufuomaejenobor.com)...top class babes who were real and down to earth enough to get involved in such a powerful way....ensuring yesterday that contact details were taken from so many people so that the momentum we built can be sustained by regular periodic meetings.....making sure we never lacked good things to eat and drink throughout the approximate 12 hour work day we went through each voting day in the hot sun....and both of whose presence ALWAYS eased the tension by making sure everyone around them laughed and saw the humorous side to everything that happened....Ladies, the friendship we built is our "advance dividend" on the sacrifices we all made....this is a friendship FOREVER!!!

    Last but definitely not the least - Mr. Dafinone...the "Senior Prefect". A true father figure who despite being well into his 60's sat with us all through the entire duration of the exercise EVERY single week, and had the responsibility of distributing the laminated tally numbers to every single voter that came to the PU to vote. You're a TRUE example of quality leadership and elder statesmanship Sir.....if all our leaders were as selfless and disciplined as you...."Mr. Boss" wouldn't need to take on all the responsibilities Chibundu spoke of above....LOL!

    You know looking back now....I'm REALLY going to miss the elections...playing my part in sorting out Nigeria albeit in a very small way, was a VERY eye opening experience for me and I'm sure for the rest of the team too. As I reflected on the past 3 weeks before I succumbed to fatigue induced sleep yesterday night, I realized that ALL it takes to start a wildfire of positive and effective reform in this country is for a few good people to stand up and do the right thing and show others that its actually fun to do things right!!! My sincere hope and prayer is that we get more people to do this cos believe me.....WE HAD A BLAST!!!!

  3. God bless Mr. Boss and the people he has listed. I wish we had more people with the same community heart.


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