With the June 30 date set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the deadline for its Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise, many prospective voters are now are going through difficulties in their bid to get their PVCs due to malfunctioning systems and technical hitches, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.
Lamentations have trailed the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in various states across the country.
As the June 30 deadline for voters to obtain their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) draws nearer, our correspondents report that the exercise is marred by delays in capturing and other technical hitches.
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Residents of Bayelsa State decried what they called the “tedious and cumbersome” processes adopted by the electoral body.
Most prospective voters claimed that online registration was not free from technical challenges.
At the INEC area office in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, some of those struggling to register told Daily Trust on Sunday that officials of the commission involved in the registration were very slow, a situation that has made several people become regular visitors to the office.
Ebiere Victor said she went to the INEC office because of lack of computer literacy, which made it difficult for her to do the online registration.
“The idea of registering online is not actually the best because for now, not all Nigerians can operate a computer or even have the money to go and pay at business centres for registration.
“They should make the registration centres available in many places, at least the polling units as it was done before so that people can do it easily.
“The INEC should not make the registration cumbersome like this, except they want to discourage people from registering,” she said.
Joe Eventus, who said he was at the INEC office to pick up his voter’s card, which had been with the commission since 2019, regretted that the officials kept telling him that it had not been produced.
He wondered how the commission would allow people to suffer in an exercise done out of patriotism, and urged it to make things easy.
Also in Kaduna State, prospective voters complained of spending hours while trying to do physical capturing during the ongoing continuous voter registration, and urged the commission to decongest the centres.
Our correspondent who visited the INEC office at Ungwan Rimi in Kaduna city observed that there were dozens of prospective voters waiting to get captured. Officials were seen setting up capturing machines at 8:40am, even when prospective voters said they had been at the venue since 6am to join the queue.
Emmanuel James, a pastor who was seen at the INEC office, said the last time he tried to register in his area at Kudenda, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, he was advised to visit the commission’s office for capturing.
He said he was told that there was no capturing centre within his area, so he had to visit the commission’s office. “l just came here, and based on what I am observing, I think INEC officials should try to keep to time. People have been here since morning, some from far distances. The commission also needs to decongest the centres by creating new ones to cater for the teeming population,” he said.
Yakubu Emmanuel, a student who has done the online registration, said he was at the centre for physical capturing, adding that a major challenge was the fact that one has to queue for the physical capturing, which could last the entire day.
“Sometimes people are in a hurry. It took me a while to be captured because there was a long queue that seemed endless. If you are busy you will probably not have the patience to wait,” he said.
However, Hannah Michael, a businesswoman who has secured her PVC, said it took her one week to get captured.
“Every day in the morning, I woke up very early to go and queue. Sometimes they would tell you to return the next day. However, after one week, I was successful and printed out my slip. I returned again and picked my PVC,” she said.
In Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, many people who have done online registration lamented that INEC officials failed to attend to applicants as scheduled in the online communication.
When our correspondent visited the INEC office along Airport Road, he observed long queues of young men, women and some elderly people waiting to be captured.
One of them, identified only as Anthony, said he did online registration, facial capturing, but could not do fingerprints.
Bakura Saleh, who also applied for the registration online, said the failure to keep to the time fixed for the exercise was discouraging many people.
Zainab Abubakar, who was seen in the queue said, “It is not easy to get the photo and finger captured.”
Efforts to get a reaction from the INEC office in the state were not successful at the time of filing this report.
Similarly, people have continued to besiege INEC offices across the 23 local government areas of Benue State to participate in the continuous voter registration exercise.
Our correspondent reports that in Makurdi Local Government Area, voters, mainly those doing first time registration, those seeking transfer of their PVCs and those who lost theirs, had three designated points to obtain their cards to enable them participate in the 2023 general elections.
The three mobile centres are the local government secretariat, Makurdi INEC office in North Bank and the commission’s headquarters.
At one of the centres, Joy Ukari, who wanted to do a fresh registration, expressed satisfaction with the orderly manner the exercise was being conducted.
Also, Ibrahim Ndagi, who was in the queue at a registration centre, said things were moving orderly, but there were long queues at the gate.
Our correspondent who went round the centres in Makurdi, including the INEC’s headquarters, reports that people waiting outside were many.
INEC’s head of the Department of Voters Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Organisations, Emmanuel Okpe, said the commission was not struggling to register potential voters. “It has been a smooth exercise,” he said.
He said officers of the commission had been adequately instructed to go to local government areas where centres for internally displaced person are situated to register them.
Reacting to the reported hiccups, the director of voter education and publicity in the commission, Mr Victor Ayodele Aluko, told Daily Trust on Sunday in Abuja that the online registration would be suspended on May 30, 2022.
He also said other processes in the exercise, including physical capturing, would be suspended on June 30.
“There were no hiccups on the part of the commission. Some of the challenges people pointed out were not from the commission. Even at that, the commission responded and acted appropriately to help eligible Nigerians,” Aluko said.
However, another top official of the INEC who didn’t want to be named told Daily Trust on Sunday that the commission should not be blamed for the reported queues at the designated centres for physical capturing.
According to the official, the exercise began in June 2021 and the commission, civil society organisations, political parties and other stakeholders have been sensitising eligible Nigerians to register.
“One of the challenges was that many commenced their online registration and subsequently abandoned it. The online process was to be completed within three weeks. If an applicant failed to do this, he or she would have to commence the process afresh.
“The reported queues in parts of the country were due to the rush on the part of eligible applicants. We should not forget that it was the number of members of staff that have been working when few people turned up that would still attend to Nigerians in their large numbers.
“The same thing is applicable to online registration, where multitudes are trying to beat the deadline,” the official said.