IN Enugu State, there is an aggressive enlightenment campaign on the need to collect the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC).
The Enugu State government and religion leaders have also joined in the drive for the enlightenment on PVCs collection, with the Catholic churches leading the pack, officiating priests have been appealing to eligible voters to make sure that they collect PVC to enable them to elect candidates of their choice in 2019 general election.
On the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, investigations revealed that top politicians in the state have been mobilising their party faithful in large number to registration venues, prompting INEC officials to move their mobile offices from ward to ward in the 17 Local Government Areas of the state.
One of the voters, who simply gave his name as Emmanuel, told Sunday Tribune in Enugu that he stayed long hours before he could register at one of the wards due to the breakdown of data machine in the area.
When contacted, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), EmekaOnonamadu, while dismissing the story of the breakdown of the machine, said he was impressed by the large turnout of eligible voters in the state to register and collect PVCs, adding that the commission had adequate equipment and personnel to carry out its functions.
“We are encouraged by the large turnout of eligible voters and our challenge is how to cope with the upsurge of people. I have an enquiry line where those who have challenges of getting registered as voters, transferring or changing de-faceted PVCs can reach me immediately,” he added.
Mixed reactions trail voter registration, PVC collection in Kano
The ongoing registration of voters has been eliciting mixed reactions, with many intending registrants facing the challenges of locating actual centres where the registration had been taken place.
Speaking with HajiaYayah, who sells fish at the AbubakarRimi market, said all her effort to get registered had been a stone wall.
According to her, “I was at the FaggeLocal Government, where a friend directed me to go and inquire on how to locate actual registration centres but rather than tell me the way out, they were telling me the different story. As I speak with you, I have not registered.
Many other people also complained to Sunday Tribune that it had not been easy to locate the registration centres, noting that this “has led people to lose interest in obtained the PVC.”
But another registrant, Alhaji Ahmed Sorodunki said he went to Gwale Local Government and was able to register.
Mr.John Ebuka, speaking on how he felt after obtaining the PVC, expressed happiness, noting that he could not vote in the 2015 general election because he had no PVC.
“I decided that I would have the PVC, not only to allow me to vote during the 2019 general election but also to have it in case the school my children attend demand for the voter card,” he said.
Anger greets exercise in Anambra
Since the commencement of the voter registration and the collection of the PVC in Anambra, there has been a gale of complaints across the three senatorial districts in the state.
In some parts of the state, the exercise has been running smoothly, with enough registration machines and adequate manpower to ensure fast and proper registration. But in other areas, there were allegations of inadequate deployment of staff and machines.
Some of the INEC staff members handling the exercise, residents of the state allege, have also been accused of constituting impediments to the smooth running of the exercise.
Sunday Tribune correspondent, who went around town to feel the pulse of prospective voters on how the registration exercise had been going, gathered that many residents who were unable to collect their PVC after they were registered, were expressing anger, accusing INEC staff members of frustrating their efforts.
Those who were yet to register complained about the nonchalant attitude of officials of the commission for keeping them waiting for long hours without being registered.
A businesswoman in a popular Eke-Awka market, in the state capital, Miss Blessed OgochukwuEzeh said she was fed up with the exercise, saying: “In fact, I don’t know what is wrong with the INEC officials in Anambra. I left my business behind and I have stayed here for over five hours and they did not attend to us.
“The INEC officials here are not performing to the expectation of the people and are not ready to do the job given to them. I am appealing to the state and Federal Government to find a solution to this, because this is the second time I will be coming here and I have not been able to register for my voter card.
Also recounting his stress, Mr OkechukwuUdeh, said: “I have been coming here for days now and these officials have not attended to me. They are only attending to the people they know regardless of those they met on the ground. Because we do not know anybody, we were left in the sun, while INEC staff members registered their relatives and friends.
But the head of voter education and publicity secretary of the commission in Anambra State, Mr Leo Ikedife, in an interview said the turnout by eligible voters had been encouraging but lamented the inability of some of those already registered to come back and collect theirPVC. According to him, “many people have come out to register but they have failed to go back to collect their PVC.
“These set of people should realise that their civic responsibility does not end with mere registration but also includes collecting the PVC and voting, which is the most paramount and they should, therefore, come back to collect their cards immediately to qualify them to exercise their right.”
In Oyo State, there is renewed and aggressive drive by stakeholders to reawaken eligible citizens to gear up for the election year. The serious concern is not just about the backlog of more than 600,000 PVCs that have been pending for collection by their owners in the state. It also has to do with the lackadaisical attitude of a lot of citizens that were either not captured in the previous voter registration exercise or those who have attained 18 years and above after that exercise, who should have taken the opportunity and window created by the INEC to perform their civic duty, but have refused to do so.
While restating that about 600,000 PVCs were yet to be claimed, the Oyo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Mutiu Agboke, sensitised religious leaders on the danger of not getting involved in the political process at a programme held at Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Oke-Agbara, Ashi, Ibadan.
He said if good people did not involve in the political process, the country would be deprived of good leaders, saying: “We have been to the Ibadan Central Mosque. The churches and mosques are powerful pillars of religious activities in Nigeria. We are here to tell the church that you cannot stand aloof; you cannot sit on the fence. INEC is doing continuous voters’ registration. INEC is creating awareness on its programmes. We are raising the level of consciousness. In Oyo State, we have over 600,000 unclaimed PVCs.”
Besides, he said religious leaders across the country and their followers should not see elections as the business of the politicians alone. He also advised those who have changed their locations to apply to the commission for transfer of their PVCs and not to register again.
But eligible voters seeking to register have stated that the exercise across the 33 local governments of the state has not been without challenges, citing the slow pace of the registration process and the issues with the data capturing machines.
According to some intending registrants in some local governments in Oke-Ogun area of the state, INEC had been taking the exercise from one ward to the other as a result of limited machines.
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The situation in Lagos State is most curious, as the state is said to have the largest number of PVCs awaiting collection. With its population of about 20 million, the state has just two million voters, in spite of the large number of adult population. INEC claimed that a total of one million PVCs have abandoned its office as their owners are yet to collect them. Series of campaigns by stakeholders have not heralded any significant impact, as the people are used to late response to such critical call to national and civic duty.
Series of campaigns by stakeholders have not heralded any significant impact, as the people are used to late response to such critical call to national and civic duty.
INEC in the state, however, said it captured about 2,500 registrants daily under its Continuous Voter Registration following the deployment of new Direct Data Capturing (DDC) machines. According to INEC’s Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Mr Sam Olumekun, the new machines numbering will reduce complaints of delay in the registration exercise because they work faster and capture registrants in few minutes. The clarification was apparently in response to complaints in certain quarters concerning the experience eligible persons who were not captured in the past were going through to get registered.
“The new machines that we have can handle many registrants on daily basis. It takes just less than two minutes to register one person. These new DDC machines have been strategically located at places where the pressure is highest,” he said.
He added: “We must be honest enough to admit that we have had challenges with our DDC machines, however, after we explained the challenges to the commission, new machines have been provided for us in Lagos. To this end, 30 new machines have been deployed in Lagos State and within the last two days when these new machines arrived, we have been capturing averagely about 2,500 every day. This is a great improvement from the entire number of registrants that we have had in the last couple of months. I want to assure the people of Lagos State that we are not resting on our oars to ensure everybody is captured. We implore eligible voters to come up and register. Let me assure Lagosians that INEC will not compromise or fail in its duties to conduct a free, credible and acceptable election in 2019. We ask for stakeholders’ cooperation,” the INEC boss said.
He confirmed that “231,435 eligible voters had been captured in the state since the inception of the exercise on April 27, 2017.”
The REC said the commission had close to 100 DDC machines deployed to the 55 CVR centres.
Reports from Osogbo indicated that worried by the poor response of the prospective voters to use the opportunity of the ongoing registration of voters, the Osun State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has embarked on an intensive campaign to reawaken the citizens on the importance of exercising their electoral right.
It specifically explained that the step became necessary as the countdown to the September 2018 governorship election in the state begins. A communique signed by the state CAN Chairman, Rev. Fr. Michael Okodua and Strategic Committee Chairman, Rev. Jacob Asani, at the end of a one-day seminar organised for church leaders, Christian traditional rulers, Christian politicians, Christian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), journalists, lawyers and Christian political office seekers, among others, at the body’s secretariat, Owode-Ede, Osun State, noted that although CAN did not belong to any political party but being the salt and the light of the world, it is interesting and will support emergence of God-fearing, courageous and effective leaders.“Christians should see the noble art of politics as a sacred task,” it said.
The nationwide voter registration exercise was successfully conducted in Bayelsa; as more centres were opened to accommodate a greater percentage of Bayelsans, young and aged persons residing in the fishing camps settlement in the coastal community of the predominantly riverine state.
Eligible voters were given an opportunity to register ahead of the 2019 general election in the state. The exercise was commendable as it also captures young persons that newly attained 18 years of age in the state.
However, the challenges were that of transportation to access the coastal communities, which the state government and top government functionaries redressed by providing speedboats to convey those who do not have means to access the hinterland in order to increase the state’s voting strength.
The state government through its functionaries in the eight local government areas, in order to shore up their decimated voting strength, even gave incentive to some persons, both young and old who do not see the need to register and that actually motivated them to get registered, a government functionary told Sunday Tribune.
The governor of the state, Honourable Seriake Dickson submitted that the general turnout was appreciable.
The collection of a backlog of PVC was also hitch-free as the government also assisted officials of INEC to convey Bayelsans from the state capital, Yenagoa, to coastal communities.
The success of the exercise was attested to by the state’s INEC officials thanked the government for providing logistics and speedboats to encourage eligible voters to get themselves registered in order to exercise their franchise.
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