By our correspondents
With three days to the deadline of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) ahead of the 2023 general elections, the majority of eligible voters in Abuja and other states in the country have been besieging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) centres in their respective locations to register and collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), Daily Trust reports.
In the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Daily Trust visited a number of centres in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Bwari Area Council and Gwagwalada Area Council on Wednesday and observed a high turnout of eligible voters, most of whom are youths.
Although it has been difficult to pin down any particular reason for the upsurge in youths’ participation, some of those who spoke to our reporter said it was a sign of political awakening and that the youth were determined to take back their country.
A student at one of the registration centres in Kubwa (L.E.A Primary School), Joseph Andrew, said: “The situation of the country is terrible. Nigerians are suffering and we have been suffering since APC came into power. In fact, when they came in, a lot of things that were easy for Nigerians became very tough.
“As a student, I feel pain. My parents find it difficult to send me money while in school due to the terrible situation of the economy that has become worse than before. I swore one morning that I will undergo whatever stress it will take me to get my PVC and vote out this government.”
A shoemaker, Tunde Ogunleye, who spoke to our reporter at one of the centres in Gwarimpa (G.S.S, Life Camp), said it was better for him to undergo the stress of getting a PVC than spending another long year with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“In fact, God knows how life has been since Buhari emerged as president of Nigeria. That man came with a negative atmosphere and Nigerians are really willing to take not just him but the APC administration out. The materials I use in making my shoes are now very expensive and customers are complaining,” he said.
In the same vein, our correspondents report that residents yesterday besieged the venues of the continuous voters’ registration centres in Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Aba, Abakaliki and Calabar in a bid to obtain their voter’s cards.
Our reporter who visited the INEC office in the Oredo area of Edo State observed that prospective voters besieged the office gate, waiting for registration. Some of the residents, who spoke on the development, decried the slow pace of the exercise.
One of the residents, Simon Isaac said he had been coming to the registration centre for the last one week but was unable to register.
“I was at the centre by 6 am and was given number 70 on the list of those waiting to be registered but they have not gotten to number 20. The exercise is frustrating and many people would not be able to register,” he lamented.
Rosemary Osadebamwen who is hoping to vote for the first time in 2023, called on INEC to extend the exercise in order to accommodate more voters.
In Akwa Ibom, a crowd of young Nigerians without PVCs clustered at the gate of the state headquarters of INEC in Uyo, when our reporter visited yesterday.
Many of them who had been hanging around the gate since the early hours of the day expressed frustration at the haphazard registration process and in a bid to get registered, barricaded the entrance to the state office.
Daily Trust gathered that over 200 persons were successfully registered when the process was well coordinated.
“When they started, they gave out numbers and called in people to register according to their numbers, but they stopped. They just call people anyhow now. They have registered over 200 persons, the number they gave me is 500. I am yet to be called to register,” noted one of the registrants.
At the INEC office along the busy Port Harcourt Road in Imo State, registrants caused gridlock as the crowd spilled over the compound.
At various local governments’ headquarters, some candidates and community leaders mobilised vehicles to convey people from villages to the registration centres.
In Owerri West, Owerri Municipal, Owerri North and adjoining local government areas, INEC officials had a hectic time controlling the surge from prospective voters.
At the INEC headquarters, one of the officials told our correspondent that they are ready to work late to ensure that a sizable number of people were registered.
In Anambra State, it was reported that some of the machines malfunctioned in the early hours of the day before they were fixed.
The Head of Information and Communication Technology and Voter Registration, Engr. Emeka Nnaji lamented that most of the registrants have no business coming to the registration centres.
In Rivers, Aba Road office of INEC in Port Harcourt also witnessed a large turnout of women and youth who came to collect their Permanent Voters cards.
However, it was gathered that there was no voter registration exercise in Ekiti State, where the state governorship election was held in June.
In Kano, our correspondent reports that residents lamented over their inability to register for Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) as the process becomes more time consuming and competitive by the day, with many of them insisting that the equipment deployed by the electoral umpire to the state was not sufficient.
Daily Trust observed that many people including those from outside the state metropolitan area have continued to troop to registration centres as well as INEC state headquarters with the hope of getting registered before the deadline set by the electoral umpire. Several of the prospective registrants expressed their grievances to the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who was at the INEC headquarters in the state to check on the progress recorded.
Daily Trust further observed that the most populous registration centre in Kano; the Sani Abacha Indoor Stadium has stopped optimal operation for the past three weeks.
During a visit to the centre, people were seen trooping in but found the place vacant with nobody to attend to them. However, INEC staff were cited at Kofar Nassarawa Special Primary School, close to the centre, registering residents.
Reacting, the Commissioner of Information in Kano State, Malam Muhammad Garba said the state government has done a lot with grassroots mobilisation of its residents to participate in the ongoing exercise, noting that the huge number of people at the INEC offices across the state to be captured was a testament to the high-level mobilisation drive embarked upon by the state.
In Katsina, Daily Trust observed that the exercise was moving in an orderly manner, though the main gate of the INEC local government office was locked.
People were therefore kept outside, while names were being called from a list which was written on a first-come, first serve basis as early as 5am.
One of the people, who were able to register, Kabir Sani, told our reporter that he was at the office at exactly 5am to put down his name, saying however that even then, he met about 50 names ahead of his.
A nursing mother, Maryam Kofar Kaura, said though that was her first time to come for the registration, she was at the office as early as 6:30am and somebody had written down her name, but she was still to be called.”
In Niger State, voters alleged nepotism among registration officials whom they said do not respect the first come first serve guideline laid down by the commission in the state. Our correspondent who visited the registration centres at the INEC Headquarters in Minna and Chanchaga LGA reported that there were huge numbers of eligible voters struggling to get registered or collect their PVCs.
Two of the voters, Grace Emmanuel and Muktar Iliyasu, told Daily Trust that they had been visiting the registration centre in the last three days but were unable to get registered.
“The situation is tough, coupled with favouritism. Some of us came as early as 6 am and had our names written, but registration officials will ask their friends to go in without calling names from the agreed list. We were in the rain on Monday afternoon, yet couldn’t get registered. They should make the process easy,” Grace said.
In Kwara State, at many of the centres visited, it was discovered that there was a massive turnout in the quest to get registered and also collect PVCs. Daily Trust also observed that many of the political parties had deployed members to the centres to help coordinate the process.
Meanwhile, in Kaduna State, hundreds of eligible voters stormed the Magajin Gari registration centre, near Kaduna North LG Secretariat to either register or collect their PVCs. This is as the state government has declared Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as public holidays to enable residents complete the voter registration and access their PVCs.
However, at the Magajin Gari registration centre, it was gathered that as early as 8 am, residents had trooped to the venue for their registration.
One of the youths who came to collect his card, Abubakar Ahmad, told Daily Trust that he registered last year but failed to collect the voter card. Another resident said he lost his PVC and had come to renew it and urged INEC to increase the centres.
In Plateau State, people trooped in for the exercise in centres within Jos metropolis. Azi Jimi, who spoke to our correspondent at a centre in Chenyak Primary School, Nasarawa in Jos North LGA said: “The 2023 election is very important to us because the country is not really in a good shape. We have to register for the election so as to exercise our franchise.”
Meanwhile, INEC said it has registered a total of 2.3 million voters in the North East.
The Commissioner in charge of the region, Dr. Baba Bila disclosed this in Yola on Wednesday after an inspection tour of some local government areas in Adamawa State.
INEC chairman evades comment on extension
The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu declined to give a definitive answer as to whether or not the commission was considering another extension for the exercise in view of the surge in prospective registrants at the registration centres across the nation.
Yakubu, who was in Kano on Wednesday, told journalists at the INEC state headquarters that it was too early for the commission to make and communicate its decision on whether or not the exercise would be extended.
“We still have a few days till the conclusion of the exercise; so let’s wait until very close to the deadline, let’s see how things pan out instead of coming to immediate conclusion at this point.” he said.
Story from Clement A. Oloyede, Salim U. Ibrahim (Kano), Tijjani Ibrahim (Katsina), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Iniabasi Umo (Uyo), Titus Eleweke (Awka), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Raphael Ogbonnaiye (Ado-Ekiti), Jude A. Owuamanam (Owerri), Seun Adeuyi (Abuja), Abubakar Akote (Minna), Mumini AbdulKareem (Ilorin), Mohammed I. Yaba (Kaduna), Ado A. Musa (Jos) & Kabiru R. Anwar (Yola)