Voters Registration: Anger, frustrations trail exercise

Since the commencement of the Voters Registration Exercise, it  has been complaints galore across  the country. In some parts of the country, the exercise has been smooth with enough registration machines and adequate manpower to ensure seamless registration. But in other areas there were allegations of deliberate acts to disenfranchise some sections of the country with inadequate deployment of staff and registration machines. The Independent National Electoral Commission staff who have been deployed to registration centres also have their issues with the exercise. Saturday Vanguard went to town to feel the pulse of the prospective voters on how the registration exercise has been so far.

ANAMBRA: Poor turnout despite huge publicity

By Vincent Ujumadu

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, commenced the continuous voters registration (CVR) at INEC offices in all the 21 local government areas and other designated centres in Anambra State on Monday, but the response has not been encouraging. A visit to some of the designated places for the exercise showed that even though the materials were available, there were hardly people to attend to. Some of the INEC staff told Saturday Vanguard that they were not happy at the turnout despite the publicity given to the exercise. However, indications emerged mid week that some politicians with eye on elective positions in 2019, have started mobilizing people in the various communities, especially those who have attained the age of 18 years, to participate in the ongoing exercise. The head of voter education and INEC media and publicity secretary in Anambra State, Mr. Leo Ikedife said the exercise would last from Monday to Friday between 9am- 3pm. According to him, eligible voters who had not registered during the previous registration exercises and those who just attained the age of 18 years should avail themselves the opportunity and get registered. Also targeted were those who had lost their permanent voters cards and those whose cards were defaced and spoiled or those with incorrect spellings and particulars to use the opportunity to correct such anomalies. Similarly, Ikedife said, people who were transferred from where they registered before should visit the registration centers and have their data transferred to their new places of residence or work.

NIGER: Turnout of eligible voters encouraging

By Wole Mosadomi

The turnout for voters registration by eligible voters in Niger state had been very encouraging as evident by the total number of people already registered across the state. So far, a total number of 95,434 eligible voters have been captured while their Permanent Voters Card, (PVC) were being processed. A breakdown of the registration showed that out of the total numbers registered, 61,687 were males while 33,747 were females. When our Correspondent visited the different Registration Centres including those located at the Eastern bypass, Tunga and Low cost area of Minna, the state capital, more eligible Voters were seen trooping out to register without stress as INEC officials were on hand carrying out their official duties with utmost efficiency as the materials for the exercise were readily available. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Sam Egwu in an interview said the turnout by eligible voters had been very encouraging but lamented the inability of some of those already registered to come back and collect their PVC. According to him, “many people have come out to register but they have failed to come back and collect their Permanent Voters Card, (PVC). This set of people should realise that their civic responsibility does not end on mere registration but collecting the PVC and voting which is the most important and they should therefore come back to collect their cards immediately to qualify them to vote.” One of the prospective voters who registered, Amina Abdullahi in an interview said,”I am convinced that the only weapon I have is my voters card and that is why I have decided to come out for the registration as a first step to vote and I am satisfied with the exercise.” Another eligible voter at the Eastern bypass registration Centre, Peter Nwankwo said,”I am fulfilled with the registration and I will surely vote next year especially if I am still in Minna and I have also directed my wife to come and register too and she has done that.

NASARAWA: Prospective voters lament insufficient machines, registration centres, staff

By David Odama

Prospective voters in Nasarawa state have decried insufficient registration machines, registration centers and INEC staff to attend to them. Speaking to weekend vanguard on the state of the ongoing voters registration in the state, some stakeholders expressed apprehension over the exercise saying qualified voters would be disenfranchised in the 2019 general election if proactive measures were not deployed by INEC to address the challenges being faced in the state. The state chairman of the major opposition party in the state, Barrister Francis Orogu maintained that inadequate deployment of machines, insufficient registration centers and the attitude of INEC staff were the major factors impeding the exercise in state. According to him, more centers, machines and manpower should be deployed to the state so as to contend with the huge turn out of voters for the exercise. Also speaking, some residents in the state alleged that prospective voters trooped out as early as 4am to queue to be registered for days with out succeeding. According to pastor Godwin Ngaji and a retired civil servant, Jerry Peleng, INEC should create more centers as well as deploy more machines and manpower to reduce the hardship being encountered by the people. Reacting, the INEC administrative secretary in the state, Opaleke shola Otolorin disclosed that a total of 29 data capturing machines have been deployed to the state with 7 allocated to Karu and Lafia in view of its dense population. According to him, over 1.15m voters have been registered since the commencement of the exercise in the state. He said that two machines have been deployed to each local government and were being used on rotational basis to fast track the exercise and to meet the urgent need of the voters in the state. While admitting the challenges of meeting the expectations of the people, Otolorin explained that a total of 100,762 voters were captured last year while 11,170 persons have been registered between January 1 and 19th 2018. Otolorin who urged the prospective voters to avail themselves of the commission’s commitment at ensuring that Nigerians were given the opportunity to chose their leaders in 2019, assured that more proactive measures were being put in place to ensure a hitch free registration exercises in the state.

ONDO: Inadequate manpower to cope with turnout

By Dayo Johnson

The on going INEC voters’ registration exercise across Ondo state was without hitch. Findings showed that the turn out was impressive. The commission’s staff were at their duty posts attending to the people who trooped to the centres. On the availability of materials, the staff said they had more than enough to work with. However the staff were inadequate in some registration points visited. Some of those spoken with requested that more hands should be employed to join the commission’s staff to quicken the exercise. The staff equally said that the number of prospective voters who were trooping to the centres for registration were more than what they expected. OYO: Lack of publicity on registration centres By Ola Ajayi Eligible voters in Oyo State have lamented inadequate publicity about registration points in the ongoing registration of voters for the 2019 general elections. Most of the voters who were willing to register wandered from one place to the other in search of where registration points are located in Ibadan metropolis. According to Adegboye Elegbeleye, a computer scientist, apart from educated ones who know they can go to INEC office to find out, most people were at a loss on where they were to register. Sunday Ajayi, a professional photographer said several eligible voters were yet to register in Oyo because they could not locate registration centres. Speaking on the issue, the INEC Head of Public Affairs, Mr Ayodele Folami said since April 2017 to date about 170,601 eligible voters have been registered. He said that 18 local governments in the state have two registration units each, while the remaining councils have one each. For the 18 councils that have two units each, he said, there was one permanent registration unit at INEC office in the councils while the other one moved about to register voters. As for the remaining councils which have one registration unit each, he explained that since it was only one, the unit had to be moved from one place to the other.

OGUN: Anger, frustration greet voters registration

By Daud Olatunji

In Ogun state, many residents who were unable to collect their Permanent Voters Cards after they had been registered have expressed anger accusing INEC officials of frustrating their efforts. Those who were yet to register frowned at the nonchalant attitude of officials of the commission for keeping them waiting for long hours without being registered. A resident, Akorede Adewale said “I am not happy at all, in fact, I don’t know what is wrong with the INEC officials here. I have stayed here for over four hours and they did not attend to us. The INEC officials here are lazy and are not ready to do the job given to them. I am appealing to the government to find a solution to this, because this is the third time I will be coming here and I have not been able to register for my voter’s card. Also recounting his ordeals, Rilwan Ogunlade said “I have been coming here for five days now and these people have not attended to me, they are only registering the people they know regardless of those they met on ground. Because we do not know anybody, we were left in the sun, while INEC officials were attending to their relatives and friends, honestly, the government should look into this registration anomaly”.

ADAMAWA: INEC decries failure to collect printed PVCs

By Umar Yusuf

The continuous voters registration exercise commenced in Adamawa State on the 8th of January 2018 in all the Local Governments, except in Madagali and Michika where insurgency has prevented the commencement of the exercise. The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC in the state, Barrister Kassim Geidam had at a stakeholders meeting in Yola expressed regret that failure to collect Permanent Voters Card PVC had been one of the major problems confronting the Commission. According to him, about 127,380 PVC which were printed before the 2015 general Elections had not been collected, even as he announced that the Commission registered 132,123 voters last year, and 22,668 as at January this year. Most of the INEC offices in the state capital were always besieged by prospective voters who wanted to register. Some of the prospective voters who spoke to Vanguard said although the exercise was a little bit strenuous, they had been registering to vote.

ZAMFARA: Prospective voters spend days at centres

By John Gabriel

Since the commencement of voters’ registration in Zamfara state, the turn out by the eligible voters was very impressive as both the old and young who have turned 18 years and above have continued to troop into the registration centres across the state in order to be registered in preparation for the 2019 elections. However, at the initial commencement of voters’ registration in the state sometimes last year, people were faced with inadequate registration machines to cater for the teaming growing population in the state. Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC) immediately swung into action, provided additional six registration machines leading to the establishment of six new voters’ registration centres across the 14 local government areas in the state. Interestingly, during vanguard’s visit to some voters’ registration centres, the electorates trooped out en mass to be registered, but there were still complaints of inadequate registration machines. In Bardoki in Gummi local government for example, over 100 persons were on queue awaiting registration which started as early as 8.00am. Some prospective voters who were interviewed said most of them came to the centre as early as 4.00am in order to be attended to early when the INEC officials would resume at 8.00am. According to Mallam Shuaibu Ademu, the INEC voters’ registration centre in the area had only one registration machine which was not enough for majority of voters who were eager to be registered. As a result, some voters kept coming to the centre for days before they could be registered. He said, “This centre attracts so many people because of the large number of people in the area. The only registration machine cannot capture all voters same day. Some people sleep or go back to their houses only to return the following day but could not be registered. This has created a lot of difficulties for the people in the area. You come to the registration centre with the hope that you will register and go back to your place of business only to spend a whole day without being registered. A female prospective voter, Hadiza Salisu said she spent N500 for transportation to the registration centre only to get disappointed, due to inadequate machine. She said some people who came for registration last week and could not be attended to, had accident the following day when they made similar attempt to come early to the centre at 4.00am only to run into some kidnappers who blocked the road and in attempt to reverse, their car collided with another vehicle leading to the death of all occupants in the vehicle. She told vanguard that besides inadequate registration machines in the area, they were also faced with shortage of INEC staff to attend to the people. She said the few INEC officials were insufficient to register voters as they quickly got tired and once it’s official closing hour, they would lock their office. In Mada Gusau local government voters’ registration centre, Mohammed Yunisa who said he came to meet some people at the centre at 4.30 am in the morning, told Saturday Vanguard that sometimes, the registration machine would break down and once that happened, all prospective voters would either wait or go home to come back the following day because only one machine was available at each centre. “Some of us have spent quite some days here. We are determined to be registered in order to be qualified to vote in the coming elections. That is why we left all we need to do to ensure that we first register. INEC officials are attending to us, but again, they don’t work beyond official hour.,” Yunisa said. There were also complaints from the commission’s staff. Those who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on condition of anonymity said in addition to being overstressed, they had not been paid any allowance since the beginning of the registration exercise even as they spent a lot of money on transportation. He said the illiteracy level of many prospective voters was also a problem to the staff. According to him, “most of these voters coming for registration don’t understand English. We have to explain to them, teach them and monitor the entire process to avoid making error that could lead to invalidation of cards. Sometimes, the impatient ones tried to create atmosphere for unnecessary disturbance. When such was observed, we would leave everything we were doing in order to calm the situation.”

BENUE: Youths attack INEC officials

By Peter Duru

The ongoing continuous voters’ registration in the Wadata area of Makurdi town has been halted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, following the harassment of registration officials by the youths of the area. This was made known on Thursday by the INEC Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Emmanuel Okpe at the Commission’s headquarters in Makurdi. Okpe said security operatives had been alerted on the development while efforts were ongoing to address the matter to allow for the smooth conduct of the exercise in the area. According to Okpe, “we do not know why they resorted to harassing our officials but for their safety we have stopped the exercise in the area. At the moment we are planing to hold a stakeholders meeting to have the matter addressed before the exercise will continue in the area. Despite that development, the exercise has been going on smoothly in all the centres across the 23 local government areas of the state. “There is however pressure on our workers because of the massive turn out which was a function of the aggressive enlightenment campaign we undertook before the commencement of the exercise. “In Makurdi we have two centres in Wadata and Wurukum and another mobile centre while in other local government areas the number of centres is determined by the size of the area. “All our officials are on ground in all the local government areas and so far we do not have problems except the issue at Wadata that I mentioned earlier. “Another problem we have in Makurdi is that some persons who had voters cards are still coming out to register thinking that the cards they had were being phased out but we have taken time to inform them that the exercise is not for those with valid voters cards.” Okpe added. On the figure of newly registered voters, Okpe said the figure was not readily available assuring that it would be made public in no distant time. When Vanguard visited the resignation point at the LGEA Primary School Wurukum, Makurdi, large number of prospective registrants were seen making efforts to register.

ENUGU: Voters’ registration encouraging

By Dennis Agbo

Since the Continuous Voters Registration, CVR, commenced last year, there have been continuous sensitisation and mobilisation of residents in Enugu state on the need for participation in the exercise. The mobilisation was a joint efforts by the INEC, the state and local government councils, the civil society groups and political pressure groups. Some councils, it was learnt, were considering helping INEC to move the registration round the communities in the hinterlands. Expectedly, all the efforts have paid off as INEC said that Enugu state is ranked fourth in PVC registration in the country. The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu said the result of the registration was encouraging in Enugu state, adding however that more people should be encouraged to come out and collect their PVCs still in the custody of the Commission. Ononamadu said “We recorded increased collection of PVC during the period, although I do not have the actual number collected on my table; but it was quite substantial compared to the collection rate before then. The commission also received a lot of request on relocation/ transfer of PVC voting-point from one location outside and within the state to the rural communities. Again, INEC staff were able to answer most questions bothering the minds of the rural people on the electoral process.”

PLATEAU: Strategy adopted to cope with large turnout

By Marie-Therese Nanlong

The Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise in Plateau State in all the 34 Centres across the 17 Local Government Areas of the State recorded an impressive turn out. In order to cope with the development, the Head of Department, Voters Education and Publicity, Osaretin Imahiyereobo told Saturday Vanguard that the Commission had to adopt a strategy to ensure the work was done. He said, “a rotation arrangement was put in place with our staff moving from one Registration Area to the other to ensure the process is seamless. However, the Commission’s staff are always on duty from 9 am to 3pm Monday through Friday except on public holidays and the process involves registering new registrants, inter and intra transfers, PVC distribution, PVC incidents whether defaced, lost, omission or correction. The Commission, Imahiyereobo said could not give the exact number of the people who have been registered so far as there were cases of multiple registrations which need to be addressed.

ABIA: INEC embarks on aggressive enlightenment

By Anayo Okoli.

In Abia State the continuous voters registration exercise has witnessed an encouraging turnout of eligible voters in many of the centres. Also, the State INEC has been on aggressive enlightenment campaign involving town hall meetings where the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Joseph usually addressed the stakeholders of the various communities stressing the need for their people to be encouraged to register. Besides, the State INEC has taken air time in the state radio station where its staff further enlightened the people on the need to be part of the ongoing exercise. Again, the State government has mandated its officers to always mobilize their people and encourage them to go and register. The Government is also sponsoring various jingles on its radio station to encourage eligible voters to go regi ster.

BORNO:  73,000 PVCs unclaimed due to insurgency

By Ndahi Marama

In Borno state, it was the same story of enthusiasm on the part of prospective voters who turned out to register. At INEC Maiduguri Office situated along Maiduguri- Damboa- Bih road, it was observed that many people mostly students, women and youths were on queue and shunting to get registered, while the INEC staff including ad hoc ones were busy attending to them. Same thing happened in some of the IDP camps and host communities where INEC staff had to move from ward to ward attending to those who couldn’t register. In an interview with Member representing Hawul Local Government Area at the Borno State House of Assembly, Hon. Ayuba Wakawa, he expressed satisfaction with the large turn-out of eligible voters in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. He said the massive turn out and the cooperation by the people showed that sensitization and enlightenment which was carried out before and during the exercise have yielded a positive result, as majority of people will now be able to vote in the next general elections. The Administrative Secretary of INEC in the state, Abdulhamid Buba said a total of 20, 042 PVCs were distributed by the electoral commission in 2017 with additional ones being issued this year. He added that “since the flagging off of this voters’ registrations exercise in Borno state, the electoral commission registered 47, 572 new voters, while it replaced 8, 105 PVCs.” He said that the commission also transferred 731 cases on account of relocations from the primary registrations in the state. He said last year, a total of 73, 233 unclaimed PVCs were identified, because of deaths or missing persons during the eight-year Boko Haram insurgency in the state.

KWARA: Low turnout of prospective voters

By Demola Akinyemi

In Kwara state, the ongoing Voters Registration Exercise has largely been greeted with apathy. While some residents claimed that they were not aware of the exercise, others said they didn’t know the registration centres and when they were advised to go to their local government, they were unwilling because of the distance. But the INEC Public Relations Officer in Kwara state Barrister Jacob Ayanda was surprised about the residents’ claim that they were not aware, saying that the electoral body has a weekly programme on the state owned Kwara TV and other privately owned Radio stations in the state capital such as Alubarika and Sobi FM Radios where campaigns for the exercise were being made He added that at the local government level, INEC has staff who have been designated to educate the people at various community meetings. He said 3,518 people have been newly registered across the state as at January 25, 2018  while those whose PVCS were ready had been reluctant to collect same. “3,623 people have collected their PVCs while we still have 238,446  with us, people should please come and collect their PVCto enable them perform their civic responsibility”, he added. The INEC spokesman, however seemed not to be disturbed about the people’s apathy saying that “it’s an exercise that will last till December, 2018 so there is enough time”.