INEC – LAST MINUTE REGISTRATION
Continuous voter registration is a process designed by the Independent National Electoral Commission to register eligible citizens from the age of eighteen and above to participate in elections in the country. This process which could have come to an end on the seventeenth of this month was extended by the commission to thirty first of this month to enable it to capture more eligible voters.
As the Exercise comes to an end today, it is witnessing a high turn-out of prospective voters in Anambra State. However, Radio Nigeria observed that the exercise is now taking place only at the local Government headquarters of the commission in the State.
Places visited were Awka South and Awka North local government area headquarters of the commission to ascertain the level of participation of the would-be-voters. At Awka South local government Headquarters, Amawbia, Radio Nigeria noted that the number of would-be-voters was over four hundred. One of them, Mr Charles Nonso who said the process was taking time, expressed confidence in the INEC staff to register all the people that came for the exercise. Also, Miss Nneka Obieze expressed displeasure over the conduct of the exercise.
At Awka North Local Government Headquarters, Achalla, the story is the same with a crowd surging to get registered. One of them, Mr John Nwoye, alleged that some INEC staff were making the process difficult for people to get registered. Attempt to speak with INEC staff in the field failed as they claimed that they were not authorized to speak to journalists. Meanwhile, Radio Nigeria spoke with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, on the challenges facing the commission, concerning the registration.
He identified hard-to-reach-areas such as Anambra East and West Local Government Areas as well as Orumba North Local Government Area as the major challenge facing the exercise. On the successes, he said the commission had done well in the area of registration. Dr Orji said the commission could not make public, the provisional number of registered voters in the state, until when processed.
Similarly in Ebonyi State, Prospective Voters are making frantic efforts to register for their permanent voter cards. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC had few weeks ego increased the number of machines and engaged more hands at various registration centers in the state. The aim was to ensure that qualified residents of the state desirous of participating in the voter registration do not suffer any impediment during the last minute opportunity provided by INEC for the exercise.
One of the prospective voters seen waiting to be captured at Abakaliki Registration Centre, Mrs. Jane Agbakai said in spite of the measures put in place, the registration process was slow. Another Prospective voter, Mrs. Elizabeth Okore said she arrived in INEC Registration centre as early as six o’ clock in the morning and emphasized that with the number of people who turned out for registration, many would find it difficult to be captured before the end of the exercise. On why they had to wait till now before coming to register, one of the prospective voters said he became interested to obtain the card when he learnt that it could be used for business transactions and documentations.
The situation was however different at Izzi and Afikpo North registration centers as the number of people who turned out for the exercise was minimal. INEC Head Voter Education in the State, Mr Andy Ezeani explained that the Commission had enough staff and machines to ensure that those who were at the centre were captured before the suspension of the exercise. Mr Ezeani said over three hundred thousand voters had been registered in the state before the extension of the registration exercise while PVCs were been processed and distributed in batches.
KEVIN EKEDIEGWU, AMAECHI ODOH