It is a repeat of the 2018 experience for Madam Rabi Busari Ilesanmi, the oldest voter in Ward 10 Okesa, Ado Ekiti during the Saturday, June 18 governorship election.
The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, rejects her fingerprints several times, just as it happened four years ago during the guber poll.
While voting in 2018, the smart card reader failed to recognise her fingerprint until the fifth attempt. Despite the long wait, she was determined to have her vote count.
Today, the 106-year-old Madam Ilesanmi shuffles to the Polling Unit 4, located about 10 meters away from her house to vote again. The time is about 9:30 am.
Unlike 2018 when her son Pa Jimoh Ilesanmi, then 78 years old, accompanied her to vote, this time she comes to the polling unit alone.
Her dutiful son has been ill since 2020, she discloses to The NGGOSSIPS. But she has made up her mind to vote again.
She says she has been voting since the First Republic when Chief Obafemi Awolowo contested for the premiership in the South West under Action Group.
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When the BVAS machine rejects her fingerprint for the third time as it did in 2018, the INEC officials asks her to wait a little longer while they continue to attend to other voters.
About seven minutes later, the INEC officer tries again to accredit her, and twice, the machine rejects her fingerprint.
She then decides to go take a nap with a promise to come back soon. Less than two hours later she is back at the polling centre.
Kind INEC officials appeal to other voters on the line to allow them to attend to the centenarian. Again they try three times, cleaning her fingers with hand sanitiser; all to no avail. When the machine fails for the fourth time, she offers to go home again to take breakfast.
Many people in the queue believe Madam Ilesanmi is tired and may not come back. At 12: 16 pm, Mrs Ilesanmi shows up again to cast her vote. The young INEC officer in the blue jacket devotes more time than before to getting her registered. The young man appears as determined as the elderly woman to overcome the technology glitch.
This time he pours the sanitiser generously on the wool and cleans the entire five fingers of Madam Ilesanmi, then presses the woman’s thumb harder on the BVAS machine. Each time, the machine shows a red decline mark. His colleague also tries but is unsuccessful. Frustrated, the two young men advise the old woman to wait till all voters are accredited and voted. And patiently, she waits.
At 12:47 p.m when everyone else has voted, the presiding officer invites her to start the accreditation again. And when he fails twice, he decides to call his superior at the INEC office to see if he can allow the old woman to vote without BVAS accreditation since all her detail is captured in the register, it appears the answer is negative.
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What could have gone wrong with the old woman’s identity? Her grandson, Suleiman Ilesanmi, 40, was accredited only once before he voted. So did her daughter-in-law, Adisatu Adeyemi.
Some people believe the change in her look may have caused the machine to reject her registration. Others say it is because of the difference between her age and the one captured by INEC. On her voter card, the birthday reads she was born in 1947, but mama insists she is 106 years old. Her first child, Pa Ilesanmi confirms when The NGGOSSIPS visited him at home that his mother is 106 years.
“I am eight 82 years how can my mother be seventy-five years of age.”
Notwithstanding, the INEC officials are concerned about sending an old woman home without voting despite her resilience. So, they lead the woman closer to the voting booth and take her photographs four more times. At the fourth time, the machine finally accepts her image, and the voters shout for joy.
Mrs Ilesanmi eventually votes at 12: 51pm
The NGGOSSIPS asks her why she is so determined to vote, and she replies: “I don’t want anything from them [the politicians]. I just want them to take care of my children.”