The continuous Voter Registration in some states in the South East is witnessing massive participation despite challenges facing the exercise in the zone.Our correspondents who monitored the exercise in various states in the zone, reported that people who trooped out in their numbers were either in queues or seated waiting anxiously to be attended to.
The first visit in Enugu State was to Nkwo Nike registration center in Enugu East Local Government Council where the exercise started at exactly nine o’clock in the morning with forty-three names already on the day’s list.
At Enugu North Local Government headquarters, there was a large number of people on ground, one hundred and forty-seven names were on the list before 11o’clock in the morning while INEC officials were seen still attending to those who could not be registered the previous day.
Other centers also witnessed large turnout especially of youths and women. Radio Nigeria observed that only two machines were in use in all the centres visited and they often developed fault, delaying the registration. An Electoral officer in one of the centers confirmed that only two machines out of five were activated for the registration.
“We are supposed to be working at five points here but we have been able to activate only two points because we have just two machines.”
Some of the people interviewed, complained that they had been there for several days but had not been registered.
“The exercise is very annoying, this is my 3rd time of coming here, we were not told about passport until now.
“This is 11:00am, they have not done anything.”
“When the Laptop gets hot, the system will not work again, the people have to wait until the pressure calms down”.
Master Callistus Ndu and Miss Adaeze Nnamani who were among those registered at the time of the visit, though happy could not forget the hurdle they encountered.
“I have come for 3 days but today I have succeeded.”
“As a citizen of Nigeria, this is what I have to do.”
The Caretaker Chairman, Enugu South Local Government, Mr. Sunday Ugwu attributed the large turnout of people at Amaechi Registration Centre to effective sensitization by the Council and called on the electoral umpire to deploy more machines to save the people the hardship they were subjected to while performing their civic duty.
For the Traditional Ruler of Ohani, Amaechi Idodo, Nkanu East Local Government Area, Igwe Hyacinth Edeani, the centres should be decentralized to save people especially those at the hinterlands the financial stress of going to the council headquarters and ensure that more Nigerians participated in the exercise. Reacting, the Administrative Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC Enugu, Dr Hyacinth Aniemena declined to give the number registered so far, saying he was not disposed to do so.
“You can collect it from Abuja. There is a little increase in the number coming to register now.”
In Ebonyi State, Correspondent Amechi Odo reported that after the initial slow take off due to inadequate sensitization, the registration had in the last week witnessed massive turnout. According to one of the prospective Voters at Abakaliki Council Registration Centre, Mr. Chukwudi Ogwata, many people were likely to be disenfranchised if INEC does not find solution to some of the challenges facing the exercise.
“INEC should bring this down to the ward level where somebody will come out of his or her house, get enrolled and off his or her business.”.”
Others, Miss Kekechi Oke and Mrs Ngozi Ebuka called on INEC to deploy more personnel to Registration Centres to check unnecessary delay and reduce the pains people go through to register. The Administrative Secretary of INEC in Ebonyi State, Mr Charles Mbanaja described the participation of residents of the State as high but emphasized that there was no need for rush since it was a continuous exercise.
In one of the centres in Abia State, over 600 persons had so far registered when Radio Nigeria visited. A prospective Voter who spoke to Correspondent Lawrence Nwokedi expressed dissatisfaction with the conduct of the exercise, accusing INEC of corrupt practices.
“They are doing partiality.”
When contacted, the Administrative Secretary INEC, Abia State, Mr Roy Obijo noted that the exercise had been peaceful and successful.
“People have been turning out in large number and we are happy with it.”
Meanwhile, to ensure the success of the voter registration in Imo State, INEC is seeking collaboration with traditional institutions in the area.
The Administrative Secretary, INEC in Imo State, Mr Charles Ezemma durind his visit to the Chairman, Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Samuel Ohiri, enjoined royal fathers to ensure the success of the continuous voter registration and distribution of permanent voters cards.
“We want to get to the grassroots.”
Eze Ohiri while calling for the removal of bottlenecks in the distribution of permanent voters cards in the country, gave an assurance that the traditional institution in the state would assist the electoral body in ensuring the participation of eligible citizens in the ongoing exercise.
Inadequate manpower and data capturing machines are some of the challenges facing the on-going voter registration in Anambra State.
Correspondent Kevin Ekediegwu observed that the number of eligible voters that turned out for the exercise had drastically reduced when compared with the number that participated at the take-off of the registration.
At the Awka South and Dunukofia Local Government Councils, less than one hundred eligible Nigerians were seen waiting to be registered when Radio Nigeria visited, as against over one thousand prospective voters who trooped out when the exercise commenced.
One of thethose who had registered, Mr. Albert Ujunwa called for the decentralization of the centers to enable people from remote areas to participate in the registration.
INEC Public Relations Officer in the State, Mr. Frank Egbo stated that it was only the headquarters that could rectify the problem.
The ongoing Voter Registration started on the 27th of April and is expected to end few months to the 2019 elections. Ensure you register.