Why I oppose INEC and Nigeria’s Primitive Electoral Style

By Adeola Aderounmu

I remain firm in my opposition to the way Nigeria and Nigerians continue to accept and live with the manner of our electoral processes.

Nigerians have the latest cars in the world. They have the latest music and art collections. Nigerians are probably the best dressed people in Africa. Nigerians build state of the art types of houses. When these things are done by Nigerian politicians it is most certainly with monies that are stolen from the treasuries across the nation. No doubt.

Mention any new invention in mobile and telecommunication industry or any other field of human endeavors, you will find it among Nigerians. Just name it!

The only things that are not modern in Nigeria are the Bankole-Daniel types of Bridges, our federal, state and local government roads, government schools and other public infrastructure. An addition to the list is Nigeria’s fraudulent electoral machinery.

When you propose an argument that our elections must be done using modern approaches and acceptable conditions, a typical Nigerian will argue that Rome was not built in a day.

I remain puzzled by the average Nigerian mentality.

In other things mentioned above, Rome was built in a day.

For things related to stupidity of public services, unacceptable electoral mechanisms, corruption as a way of life and impunity as a vice that must be crushed, Nigerians will come forward saying Rome was not built in a day. O Americans got her independence so so so years ago….we can’t be like them.

These are the types of arguments that those who destroyed Nigeria or who are in the process of plundering the treasuries put ahead of their misdemeanors. Their aims are clear; to confuse the people and to ensure that corruption that enriches a few and enslave the rest of us remains the norm.

In extremely worrying situations religious organizations and bodies encourage Nigerians to pray about problems that require actions and doings. I’m worried.

What INEC is doing with regards to the registration of voters is actually wrong. In previous essays I have argued that it is the responsibility of the National Population Commission to undertake an appropriate census of Nigerians and the people living in Nigeria.

The NPC can easily pass the available figures and statistics to INEC and INEC can send out registration cards by post to our homes.

We have serious problems in Nigeria because as a people we are used to fraud and lies. The foundation of Nigeria as a country is built on deceit. Therefore there is no easy way forward for Nigeria. Still we must be very firm and committed when we undertake certain ventures like counting Nigerians.

One day, as we continue to hope against hope, this country called Nigerian may end up in the hands of the right people-committed people who have brains, who can use their intelligence to deliver the rest of us. It’s a hard call because all those who have been there since 1960 collectively, have failed. Loads of intelligence has gone down the drains. It’s an extremely sad situation.

In Nigerian census, goats and cows are counted so that people from a certain region-mostly the North-can have more people registered than other areas. If we follow the proportionality of the false census from the past, one may conclude that if 13 million people live in Kano then there are probably 30 million people in Lagos. But the corrupt Nigerian government agreed that there are more people in Kano than Lagos. In the world, you will find no greater fallacy!

The reasons for these manipulations of census figures are because Nigerian politicians are crooks. They allocate money to states based on these fake figures and they loot the money. During elections they use these fake figures to rig election results.

These are the vices that are blocking progress in Nigeria. Nigerian politicians lie, steal, murder, loot, cart away and even get away with everything. There are inadequacies in the Nigerian judicial systems that allow crooks and criminals to rule over the rest of us.

Sadly too, we have this resiliency that has been used to our detriment. We allow all kinds of rubbish and say “God dey”. Then we move on to the next stupid phase of our national life. For more than 50 years this country continues to rot away. The third of generation of Nigerians are wasting away and all we can say is “Rome was not built in a day”. Absolute nonsense, baba n’la rubbish!

As I was trying to say, the task of voters’ registration under a given period of time is over 2 000 years old. If Nigerians can apply technology in other aspects of their lives, why not in census figures? Why not to carry out successful elections?

We didn’t have to buy all the so called DDC machines we bought just for the purpose of elections in 2011. The machines have even disappeared into private hands. So somewhere there are falsifications of voters’ list in Nigeria.
Mark my words, 4 years from now, if Nigeria is still in existence, another government will order new machines for new voters registration.

For how long shall we continue to live like this as a country?

NPC must at all times have records of the people living in Nigeria. This is as simple as having a database for the registration of all Nigerians. Here are excerpts from what I wrote in 2007:

[This is the 21st century and it is now possible to count how many people live within a defined geographical region anywhere in the world without much hullabaloo.

To count Nigerians is not a 5-day project. It is not even a 50-day project. Counting in every country should be a routine work revealing how many people live in that country at a particular point in time. It should also involve close monitoring of the number of births or deaths that are recorded daily or periodically.

Taken simply in the Nigerian context, what we need in terms of knowing the population of Nigerians is a long term plan. It is a process that will start gradually, remain focused and eventually reach a stabile. Nigeria needs a system where her citizens are recognized by social security numbers (SSN) or what in other places is known as personal numbers (PN). This number which should be imprinted on our national IDs and passports is a tag that should not be changeable whatever happens! Everything that affects you (good or bad) should always be recorded against this SSN or PN on a computer database.

These SSNs should be with all public institutions under strict conditions of confidentiality and trust regarding the personnel that work in such offices. Some private institutions may have special access too depending on the nature of their assignments. It should not be possible for a person to have double SSNs because fingerprints will go along with them. However, that does not rule out that identities cannot be stolen but if the law catches up with such people, they should face the music directly. An individual’s SSN should be connected to records at the Hospitals, Tax offices, unemployment offices, Insurance companies, Motor Vehicle Licensing offices, Bank records, Statistics bureau, and so on and so forth.

Where do we start from in Nigeria? The problem in Nigeria is that counting is not done with sincerity of purpose. Politicians meddle with everything that is of National interest for selfish gains and personal reasons. This is the debacle that must be removed. A public institution like the NPC has to be re-engineered to catch up with modern realities. The way we count ourselves must change.

Nigeria needs to focus on the task of her census with long term considerations. A 5-10 year plan to count all Nigerians coupled with daily observations of changes from the start will be a good approach. This will make good planning possible. We should monitor daily population growth and periodic influx or out-flux. Where you reside in the country should not be a factor, the point is that we should know that you exist and live within a certain region in the country. If you leave the country, it should be possible to detect that. We should also be aware when you return as long as you have taken the legal approaches to do these things. In crime situations, people can beat some of the checks or controls mechanisms but the essence of knowing the estimated number of people will remain.

It is not ideal to count people in Nigeria using a deadline. This will leave room for panic and people will be rushing or running around aimlessly because they want to be counted in their homelands. There is no need to create chaos just because you want to meet a deadline. It is not necessary to count Nigerians in a hurry. It is also not a matter of life and death that a particular administration should be saddled with the task. Knowing the population is not a job for a particular regime, it is the reason that the NPC is in existence. This Commission, in the future and after good planning, should be able to send out population figures at a click! Nigeria must look into the future; make concrete plans for things that work forever, not temporarily.

What about the NPC registering every Nigerian at its local offices, giving out SSN and taking fingerprints? All the local offices should be connected to a central computer network at the headquarters. State of the art technology must be in place to detect multiple fingerprints.

This is the stage that the world has reached. A person need to be identified with his name, SSN, address, fingerprints, photograph, occupation, marital status, children (or not) and so on. A change of address should be immediately reported so that the state or local government knows who has moved in or out. People moved for many reasons; to be with family, change of job and so on.

Having a lengthy time to take care of population figures will be more than enough to let people know how population flow is observed and what is expected of everyone concerning their registration on the database. When a child is born for example, the hospital should have the means (either by the computer network) or otherwise to inform the local NPC of a delivery. Obviously, the families of newborns know that they are obliged to get SSNs for their children. Representatives of the local authorities would only need to see the baby and the information that they have received from the hospital about the sex, weight at birth, date of delivery and so on. The connection between the local authorities or local governments and the NPC should be paramount as the number of people in the locality should correlates with financial/economic implications.

In essence, taking care of population figures or census is not supposed to be a big deal. It should become a way of life. With time, all Nigerians will be registered. The operations of the NPC must be completely computerized with appropriate backups. The number of foreigners living among us should also be noted. They should also have SSNs that can be coded so that once they appear on the system, it becomes obvious that they are foreigners and the exact country they come from appears. The nature of their businesses in Nigeria should also be revealed by the same SSN.

It is unnecessary and a waste of time and resources to count people before, during and after elections. We should be able to click on the NPC database in the next 10 years and say there are maybe 150 million people in Nigeria. We should be able to say things like, 2 000 foreigners live in Ikeja and that 30 000 Nigerians have migrated to Europe in the last 2 years for example. The Nigerian embassies all over the world should have the responsibilities of the NPC in their various locations.

One hopes that in 2017, NPC will find it easy to look into its database system and tell us how many we are as Nigerians. One of their statisticians should be able to have a cup of coffee or tea by his side and still make a first click to find out the latest entry on the database network and a second click to give the total number of people that are Nigerians. By then it should be possible to stop counting cows, goats, chickens and sheep as humans. If Nigeria is also truly the heartbeat of Africa, then we need to set the pace not only in population or census aspects but in other areas that affect the quality of our lives.

The 2006 census should be the last time we count ourselves using paper and biro. It should also be the last time the government sent people to our homes for the purpose of census. We deserve our privacy! ]

(Original post: How to count Nigerians )

Since I wrote this piece on the Nigeria Village Square in 2007 nothing has changed. If the Nigerian government had been sincere, by now all we need to be doing is sending voters’ cards to our homes, not sending Nigerians out into the sun and rain thereby stressing life out of a people that are already hopeless. But no, we have a system of government that thrives on primitive ideas and massive corruption.

By now INEC should be concentrating on election matters and not registration of voters. Nigeria has been registering voters since 1959, when is that rubbish going to end? It’s funny when we call ourselves the giant of Africa. Nigeria by not being able to send out voters cards to our homes is simple a dwarf of Africa.

If our system of governance and the corruption in our system do not allow us to fashion our electoral processes according to the state of art technology, I repeat that Nigeria is the dwarf of Africa. Or how else shall we be an example to the rest of Africa? And please don’t start that argument about Rome?

If you still want to deepen the primitiveness of Nigerian electoral processes you should listen to Goodluck Jonathan on NTA News. He reiterated that Nigerians should register near their homes because movement will be restricted on the day of election.

When I hear such comments I think about the biblical Herod and the events of more than 2000 years ago.
Why should we restrict movement on the day of election? Why can’t I vote and go where I want to go? Why should our fundamental rights be taken away from us because of elections? There is even no guarantee that the votes will be counted.

The votes can be counted and manipulated because we don’t have a unified and acceptable census figures. Is it not amazing that in the recent Delta elections, ballot boxes were snatched and riggings were reported? The people who voted in the water areas were more than the people who voted on mainland delta.

All of these anomalies are what will be impossible once we get the population figures right. Ballot box snatching will be meaningless if the results of forgery do not tally with the people residing in the voting area. It will make the jobs of the electoral tribunal easy to carry out.

INEC’s DDC machines are not working in some places. The machines needed to be updated. Apart from that the problem of electricity means that the machines have limited time to operate.

Nigerian schools are closed because of voters registration, you will never find a more primitive society that the one that the Nigerian government has created.

If the National Population Commission is given the mandate as I suggested in previous essays there will be no interruption of the education of our children. Updating of the Nigerian population can be done weekly, monthly or annually. These are not impossible tasks. Sincerity of purpose will avail much.

The quality of education is already at an all-time low, yet we manage to close the schools either due to voters’ registration or more correctly due to threats of bombs here and there.

I must conclude. I have several reservations for the forthcoming elections in Nigeria. In 2003 and 2007, across Nigeria, the PDP master minded massive rigging of elections to keep up with a known tradition. In secret locations guarded by men with guns and machetes, men and women sweated as they thumb-printed their way to fake electoral results.

From a very reliable source I learnt that PDP chairmen across the nation supervised these rigging processes. Men and women who became ministers and ambassadors for Nigeria supervised and participated in the useless elections of 2003 and 2007. Goodluck Jonathan is a biggest beneficiary of that shameful process.

If anyone thinks that GEJ is ready to give up that process that brought him this far, that person needs to rethink about what we have on ground and that to this day-that there are no mechanisms to sustain the R.S.V.P campaign.

How do you protect a vote when the numbers of voters are not known? How do you protect a vote when some people will vote several times and results will be forged? This is not about INEC or Jega. This is about a system that is not ready for the mischievousness of the Nigerian mind. To me, what INEC is doing now doesn’t make sense?

Finally, what I see is a bunch of 140m people beating about the bush. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. The charade of the 2011 will be revealed before our very eyes, soon!

I’ll continue to hope against hope that by 2015 we would have built our Rome.

Why Nigeria Needs No Elections In 2011

By Adeola Aderounmu

Nigerians must insist of credible elections. It is the first prerequisite for the turning point that we continue to seek for.

We know that corruption, stupidity, senselessness and outright madness dominate Nigerian politics but credible elections remains the most single important avenue to start re-addressing our national woes.

Next in line is the scrapping of the EFCC and its replacement with a genuine, transparent, efficient and neutral body that will zealously pursue investigations and prosecutions of political criminals, looters, fraudsters and others who mismanage public/private funds. The new body must be able to arrest or prosecute anyone irrespective of their positions in the government or society.

When our elections are good and when any kind of political thief at all is sent to locations like kirikiri maximum prison, discipline and sanity will return to our lives. The future will be ready for our children.

However I don’t think Nigeria should have any elections in 2011.

Come September the 19th 2010 I will vote again in the Swedish Elections. I voted 4 years ago as well.

My voting card has been sent to me by post. I can actually vote before September 19 at some designated centres. But if I wait until the 19th, there will be a lot of people and I must cast my vote latest 1800hr.

Nigeria should probably avoid elections in 2011.

If Elections are conducted in Nigeria in 2011 under the present arrangements of things, political assassinations and kidnappings will rise to new heights. Many saints and lambs will be slaughtered in the survival game of Nigerian do-or-die politics.

Any election that will be conducted in Nigeria must meet international and acceptable standards. Anything short of that must be avoided. The time on our hand between now and when INEC planned to conduct new elections (January-April 2011) is likely too short for Nigeria to achieve the prerequisites for credible elections.

As I write I am convinced that all the political parties are already planning how to stuff ballot boxes with fake election materials. Plans are in top gears in Nigeria to ensure multiple registrations and multiple voting among many other electoral vices.

In 2007, across Nigeria from the Deep Delta to the Hot Deserts of northern Nigeria, PDP chairmen, godfathers, touts and thugs across Nigeria sat in secret locations thumbing on electoral materials. Other political parties fought hard too in this useless game of dirty politics but the machinery of the PDP was too sophisticated in these cheating games plus having Maurice Iwu doing the deeds of the most wicked ones. See how people were sweating in secret locations heavily guarded by men with sophisticated weapons of war and even cutlasses!

Under the present circumstances in Nigeria this feat will repeat itself in 2011. PDP will once again use the machinery of the government to outwit the others. Political madness will continue and Jega will be helpless. He will cook lies like the actors before him who occupied the seat. The problem will not be Jega.

We fail to see that the system in Nigeria have turned all good men and women to vultures and stupid liars. In today’s Nigeria I have no living hero. I am standing alone on my belief and principles of do it well or get out the way! Don’t ignite my anger by reminding me of your favourite internet-popular czar because Obasanjo, Andy Uba and the jet loads of prostitutes and raw dollars are still flying.

The malpractices associated with our elections must be tackled before new elections. The scenario of stuffing ballot boxes, multiple voting, voting at secret locations, intimidation, assassination connected to elections and as a matter of fact the simultaneous eradication of corruption and the eventual delivery of the dividends of democracy are tied to one thing: credible elections where votes are counted to elect public officers knowing that the votes will be re-counted every 4 years.

If a politician knows that his position is jeopardised if he doesn’t deliver in office, he or she will start to perform before the next voting season. We must ensure at any future election that votes are what bring people into offices and can be used to sweep them away. Until then the intimidation, kidnapping and even assassinations of political opponents and genuine reporters of political affairs will rise and we won’t have performances in offices. Organised corruption will remain our hallmark.

Since we can have a new face for our anticorruption agency after a fine electoral process, then those who loot even after being voted into offices must face judgment. Hopefully the useless immunity clause will be removed by emerging revolutionary minds in our society. Let everyone go to judgement irrespective of their positions.

Nigerians must insist on the removal of the immunity clause after a viable financial corruption agency is established. EFCC is not on my mind. That is just a toothless bulldog whose activities where ruined since Obasanjo’s yeye 3rd third bid. EFCC died with the 3rd term agenda. Wake up gullible people!

What then do we need in 2011?

In 2011 the Ministry of Internal Affairs must step in. That Ministry must work hand in hand with all other public and private institutions in Nigeria to ensure that it makes an appropriate list of Nigerians. The Ministry of Internal Affairs must ensure that every living Nigeria carries an identity card with each person having a specific number. That number will be a key number for the electoral commission.

We must find everyone living in Nigeria and ensure that they carry an identity card. In everyway possible double or multiple registrations must be avoided and punishable with long-term imprisonment. I recommend 15 years minimum.

In 2011 Nigeria must gather together her computer gurus, forensic experts and statisticians who know what figures and numbers represent. This group of people are part of our sources of the hope for the future.

Look around, see the computer gurus in Nigeria. Get the technology, train them if necessary and give them the incentives to allow them face the task without fear or favour. Computer experts and statisticians in Nigeria must rally round the Internal Affairs Ministry and INEC. They should propagate these ideas. They are experts and they know what to do.

Between now and the end of 2011, they must work round the clock to make those missions possible and they must report to the appropriate authorities when some idiots start to rare their ugly heads in multiple registrations.

In 2011 Nigerians must ensure that one major thing happen. This is the radiation of both truth and trust among the citizens-that we can make it if we work together. Our collective aim will be to ensure that this process work. This process will establish everlasting sanity when it comes to identification of individuals and the eventual benefits in elections and other endeavours of life.

I am tired of people saying this is impossible in Nigeria. If this is impossible then it means the black man is not intelligent. It means that he is so foolish that he doesn’t even know what he needs to get himself a decent life and to make his society better for his own benefits. Are we stupid? Are we retarded?

Impossible is nothing! Candidly from my perspective, Nigerians should forget about elections in 2011. I tell you all these assassination will cease. Political violence will vanish once those illiterates, thugs, educated morons and daredevil politicians know that something is on ground to computerise the system-something that will checkmate their atrocities before, during and after elections. They will simmer down. Political manifestos and reasoning can prevail again in Nigeria.

Let each person carry an identity card with peculiar numbers. At the end of 2011 or whatever time our geniuses have finished with the identity card registration processes, INEC should send out voting cards that tally with the identity cards. When a person cast his or her votes, the system automatically records it. And since we have put our geniuses in place at the beginning to avoid double registrations, attempts by people (some will beat the system anyway) to vote twice will be minimal.

But I tell you with the simple finger print technology and dedicated statisticians and forensic experts on ground, there may never be anything called double or multiple registrations. This is where the rule of law, its effectiveness and application come into play.

We must not forget that if we fail in our next election, the black race failed, again! We are then simply dumb and foolish. We will then not be able to protest that we are not intelligent enough to carve our activities and carry them out successfully. If we fail it will go a long way to show that colonisation of the black race was far better!

If we fail like we did in 1959, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, then take it or leave it Nigerians are very bad species of the black race. If we fail again, then there is something wrong with our cognitive abilities. A thorough anthropological research will be required to verify why we allow the few thoughtless people among us to continue to dictate the pattern and emergence of our political structures. We know that our political display and the outcomes reflected by extreme poverty and diseases for examples have been used as the benchmark to “judge” who we are and how we think.

The turning point for Nigeria is now or never! We have had enough of stupid and useless elections since 1959! Haba ! Ki lo deee!!

Did we pay mugun fees? To whom? Let’s get the ID card scheme and elections right jooo!

My suggestions may not be the most appropriates especially against the backdrop of our extreme diversities of opinions. Our views of life, essence of living and the way we see relationships between humanity, public service and our interplay with nature are too diverse that we have always failed to find common grounds. It’s a dilemma.

Yet I’m convinced there are ways to pursue and execute credible elections that will neutralise all the electoral failures since 1959. We are 140m but democratic successes have been recorded in India where you’ll find more than 1b people.

INEC must ensure that all Nigerian voters are registered not only on paper but on the computer system in all your offices across the nation.

Please don’t give us the excuse that Nigeria is not yet that developed. We are sensible and we must begin to do things in compliance with the present age and technological advancements.

Credible elections after 50 years of waste and hopelessness must happen now or we will never have them.

Postpone those elections until the initial things are done right! Why the rush? Where are we heading with stupid elections?

Put everyone on the database and ensure that the compilations, distribution/collection of voter’s card tally with the finger prints or any other forensic/character recognition feature.

Nigerians should be able to vote even before the election dates to avoid crowding at the voting centres and late voting on the last day.

Apart from the voting centres or tents on the streets, open up the post offices and other special centres for pre voting.

Men and women above 80 years old and people with disabilities should vote before the actual election day if they so wished. Send them special forms with your staff and party representatives in attendance. Provide credible witnesses when these categories of people cast their votes at home or at the hospitals. Don’t tell us you don’t have the possibilities to serve everybody, unless you mean that INEC can’t think of how to solve problems or face tough challenges.

The Electoral Commission must ensure that the election materials are available several weeks in advance. As suggested earlier, let our pre-voting period span at least 2 weeks before the actual voting day.

Once a vote is casted, that person’s name is ticked on the database as “having voted”. Therefore an individual cannot vote twice. INEC’s staff members must be well educated and trusted. Those found wanting should be dismissed immediately or prosecuted if they engaged in criminal manipulations.

When the final count is made, the cumulative total of votes casted must tally with the ticks on the central database in your establishment or at your headquarters.

INEC must function not as a Jega-entity but as an organisation with structures that any dude can mange with minimal intellectual capacity.

INEC must avoid half-baked elections or do-or-die elections just because we must have elections. In 2007 we became a laughing stock in the comity of nations in the name of power transfer. It was one of the biggest shames I’d faced in my life. The black man was reduced to “incapable” to do the right thing. In addition to outstanding stigmatizations, he became the one who can’t count and add.

We want to get it right this time and we don’t want any excuse.

The people should know how the electoral commission is collaborating with the various ministries especially the Internal Affairs’ Ministry.

Tell us how the postal agencies can work with you to ensure that voting cards or papers are delivered to the right persons from age 18 when the time comes.

If it will take 2 years to get everything perfect, please start now. Provide a timeline of what it would take and how Nigerians can have credible elections.

In our next elections, everything associated with violence and stuffing of ballot boxes must be made irrelevant and worthless.

Stuffing of ballot boxes and printing of fake electoral materials will be useless if a person’s number is ticked on the database after casting his or her votes.

Please don’t tell us that we don’t have the technology. We have the money for anything in this country. We can afford 10 presidential jets if we so desire. What is computer technology for Nigeria? Piece of cake!

Nigeria and Nigerians must not go ahead with any crude voting methods. All the political parties are probably now scheming on how to surpass one another with the ballot stuffing. Kidnapping and all forms of madness associated with elections will be reduced or eliminated if the eventual playing field becomes open, clear and non-surmountable by evil machinations now dominant in Nigerian politics.

PDP was dominant in 2007 because they had more access to INEC and the instruments of governance. The order of things must change and the scheming of INEC is the biggest source of checkmate. Nigeria must for once give Africa an example worth emulating.

A neutral INEC with computer based analyses of voting and results by applying state of the art technology will make sure that all those planning to rig are wasting their time and energy.

My arguments about the 2011 elections can be expanded beyond this scope. The bottom line is that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. In history nearly has never caught a bird.

Please and please no more primitive elections in Nigeria. No more procrastination on the application of computer, information and communication technology in our elections.

If we must shift our elections to make room for the application of the latest technology to ensure that our votes are counted, so be it. We have wasted 50 years of our lives and two generations. This ingredient-a credible election-is a needed stepping stone for the turning point.

It is about time our voted are counted. INEC has an obligation to fulfil one of the things that give us our sense of dignity. The realisation of our fundamental human rights to vote and be voted for since 1959 is back in INEC’s court. Let time not be a hindrance.

The time for wishful thinking should be over. Somehow all the genuine advocates of true democracy and trusted agencies responsible for the protection of human rights and democratic principles must work hand in hand in unity and trust to carry the citizenry along on the need for transparency and accountability in the on going electoral processes.

We have been through wuruwuru, please let us not see jagajaga.

If we fail again this time, I will come back to the intelligence question: how intelligent are we really in solving our problems and taking stands for the essence of our lives?

The solutions to Nigeria’s problems lie on our hands, how we think, how we act. The solutions are collective responsibilities and are multi-faceted. We can rekindle the dead hope of Nigeria.

I am convinced beyond reasonable doubts that a credible and acceptable electoral process is the single most important step forward in healing Nigeria. The entire healing processes are cumbersome and extremely long but results can be achieved when my children’s children arrive if we start now.