Registered voters recount hitches, frustrations collecting cards

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of people on Thursday converged on the Liberty Estate gate, Ibafo, Ogun State, where those yet to collect their permanent voter cards in Ibafo, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state were asked to gather.

Nursing mothers, traders, businessmen and women, commercial motorcyclists otherwise called riders, factory workers, and students stood, while others sat under the scorching sun. Some individuals who got to the PVC collection centre on time were lucky to get a seat under the canopy provided.

Over 500 names had been registered at about 11: 45am in the sheets of paper provided by some individuals for people to write their names as they arrived. People clustered in different groups lamenting the delay, calling on food vendors to sell to them as they were famished, claiming that after today (Thursday), officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission would move to another ward and they might have a tough time getting them to return to their ward. One of them who gave her name only as Miss Blessing said she left her office to quickly collect the card and return only to encounter a different situation.

One of our correspondents who approached a retiree, Gani Eboda, for an interview noticed that he was weary from the wait. His fellow retiree and friend, Adebisi Ogunfowodu, who sat beside him, also appeared tired of waiting without hope of the officials coming to attend to them. The retirees said they were tired of the long wait since 7am, saying, “We have not seen them (INEC officials) since morning. They told us to arrive here by 9am. I should have stayed back at home to eat.  What else am I looking for at my age? I just want to carry out my civic right of voting.’’

INEC had earlier announced that the collection of PVCs would commence on December 12, 2022 and end on January 22, 2023. The commission’s National Commissioner for Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, had noted that the exercise would take effect from January 6 and 15, 2023.

 He added that the collection of the PVCs would be devolved to the ward level after which collection would be moved to the local government areas.

It was earlier reported that the INEC Director of Voter Education in Lagos State, Mrs Adenike Tadeshe, said that about 14,000 people collected their voter cards daily, noting that as of December 29, 2022, about 5,816,528 PVCs had been issued out. She added that by January 15 and 16, 2023, the cards would have been taken to all the 245 wards in the state and the local government areas.

Also, in an advertorial by the International Press Centre on Wednesday, funded by the European Union, Nigerians were urged to collect their PVCs.#

The commission, however, on Thursday extended the deadline for PVC collection until Sunday, January 29, 2023.

Sitting over a slab beside a gutter at the venue, a nursing mother with a group of other women lamented the stress of waiting unend to collect their PVC.

She said, “My child is only 30 days old and not yet 41 days old. Ordinarily, I should not be out here with my baby but I need to get my PVC. I got here 9am and no one has attended to us. I will leave by noon because my baby is no longer comfortable. There is a lot of dust here which is not healthy for the baby. I tried to get a place to shield my baby from the sun but there is none and I am not able to get a seat under the canopy. This is how the government does. We were told to come all the way from our houses at Ereko and we spent N500 on bikes leaving our businesses.

“We couldn’t eat before leaving so as to quickly get the card and return home. Later there will be announcements on the radio that people are not turning up to collect their voter cards. Why is there always a hitch with getting government documents? Look at what we are facing to get the card, how will it be when it’s time to vote? We are discouraged already and don’t even know if they will eventually come but we are keeping our fingers crossed.”

A real estate agent, Alhaji Salawu Abdulateef, said the delay and tussle experienced with the voter cards collection was appalling, stating that timing was key in everything. He stated that the information he got from the Community Development Authority chairman was that collection of PVC would start from 9am to 5pm, adding that painfully, they had yet to see any of the INEC officers from the local government.

He said that with the crowd at the venue, if the commission’s officials got there on time, they would be able to give out the cards before 5pm.

Abdulateef told that, “This is uncalled for. We came here to get the cards so as to perform our civic responsibility but we are still waiting. If they get here by 2pm, for instance, they will tell us they have only two hours to attend to everyone. Look at the elderly people waiting, we have places to go to and things to do.

“The INEC officials should be reasonable and compassionate with us. Sitting here for the whole day without achieving anything is not an ideal situation. The job has been delegated to some set of officials but we have yet to see any of them. Men and women of calibre who have businesses to attend to are here waiting. This is not ideal. I wish Nigeria can get better.”

He added that a schedule was given for the collection and the officials would move to another area/ward the next day, indicating that they had planned for the exercise. He further said the problem wasn’t a government issue but one bordering on inefficiency of some persons, urging INEC to set up a monitoring unit for each ward.

A factory worker, Samson Lawal, told one of our correspondents that the process of PVC collection was poor even at the INEC office in Owode.

He said, “My friend went to Owode on Thursday last week and was there for hours but couldn’t get his PVC. I have been here since 9am. A woman told me that her son had been here since 7am. Look at the people here. Some of my friends hurriedly left the factory to collect their PVCs but we nothing appears to be happening since noon.’’

Pvc Palaver 2Some other persons who spoke to said the organisation for the PVC collection was poor. Two traders, Mrs Ramota Ogunsanya and Mrs Abosede Raji, said they were prompted to come to the venue following radio announcements after several visits to Owode without any headway.

Raji stated that they had been standing under the sun without hope of collection, adding, “These people from about four CDAs gathered here to collect their PVCs but we have yet to see the officials. What would we use to vote if we are not given the voter cards? They want to deprive us of our power and right to vote. Those of us that did a transfer from one place to another have not been given our cards yet. We would come in the morning and wait till evening but no one would attend to us.”

One of our correspondents who visited some collection centres in Lagos State was told by some of the eligible voters that while some eventually got their PVCs, others left the centres empty-handed.

One of the centres is at Agbado-Ijaiye Primary School, Clem Road, Ayanwale in the Ifako-Ijaiye Local government Area of Lagos State.

A cleric, Raymond Adejimi, complained that the process was a tiring one as he visited five different centres before he eventually got his PVC. He explained that the problem started when he relocated to his permanent site after which he applied for a transfer of his PVC.

He said, “At least today I saw two or three of them and there are so many.”

Another resident, Ismaila Odeyemi, stated that he was unable to do a transfer of his PVC from his previous ward to another ward.

Odeyemi was hopeful when he applied for a transfer of his PVC to his present ward from the previous one, but unsure of voting in the forthcoming election because he was told that the transfer was not successful.

He stated that he applied for a transfer from Polling Unit 33 to 72 in Ifako-Ijaiye LGA on INEC’s website and received a notification showing that the application was successful.

He said, “It should rather be a walk in and collect process but one has to stay for some time before it can be obtained. There are lots of complaints concerning transfer of PVCs due to relocation.’’

Oluwadamilare and Raliat Kazeem are siblings who registered for their voter cards same day on July 2022 at INEC office located at Bamgbose Street, Arigbanla in the Ifako-Ijaiye LGA of Lagos State but it took them six months before they could collect the cards.

One of them said, “From the beginning of the process, it was really rough.’’

Also, visited the INEC office located at 20, Arigbanla Street, Abekoko in the Agege LGA of the state, where the officials said the collection centre was at Orile-Agege Community Grammar School, Ogundele.

At the centre, there was no crowd as INEC officials awaited people who only entered in twos and threes for card collection. While some received theirs effortlessly, others lamented over one issue or the other.

A resident of Ogundele, Olaitan Abdulrazaq, was one of the people who were unable to get their PVC at the centre. He said he registered for the card on September 24, 2022, expressing fear that he might not be able to vote in the coming poll.

He said, “I also want to vote in this election but this stress is too much. I registered on September 24, 2022 at Oko-Oba so they directed me to their office at Arigbanla. When I got there, they said I should come here. I am here now and they are saying they could not find my card. They said it is not out yet and they were the one that gave me a print out that I should come back. This is what some of us are facing at the moment.”

Another eligible voter, Utim Bassey, stated that when he arrived at the centre, the officials asked him to visit a computer centre nearby for a print out of the details on his registered card, adding that despite several attempts he could not get his card. He noted that he provided the necessary information requested by the officials.

He stated, “I was at home when my wife collected hers and she told me that she saw mine too. I think our cards followed each other because we registered the same day but when I came here they said they couldn’t find it. They asked me to get my print out and some other things I don’t understand but when I got to the computer centre opposite the collection centre, those handling the process said they could not find my print out. He asked for my name and the date of birth and I provided the information effortlessly.’’

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Commenting on the development, the commission’s Public Affairs Officer in Lagos State, Mrs Adenike Oriowo, said the commission was working assiduously to ensure that available PVCs were easily obtained by the owners.

Reacting to the issue raised on the transfer process, Oriowo stated that the people needed to be more patient, assuring that their PVCs would be collected as soon as they were available at the centres.

She said, “When people complain that they cannot easily get their cards after processing a transfer from one place to another, it can either be that their cards are not ready yet because this thing is done in batches. Anybody that registered must surely get it because that assurance is there. The printed batch started from April to June and those that registered in July 2022 started arriving in December. This is a process that we have to be patient with but be sure that your PVCs will be available.

 “The problem our people have is that any time some set of people tell them ‘No’ they tend to believe that is the end of the road. If they searched for your card and it is not there that does not mean that your card will not arrive. Definitely more cards are coming and we are expecting their arrival.  Our people are used to having their ways all the time and it doesn’t work like that. These cards are produced in batches and we also distribute them in batches too.  The way we are doing it is that people only need to walk into the centres, sign their names, collect their PVCs and go. There is no stress in it at all.’’

 A visit to the INEC office at Oyo West Local Government, Irepo Area, Oyo, Oyo State, on Thursday at 9 am showed several persons awaiting their PVC collection.

One of our correspondents interviewed some of the eligible voters on their ordeals in collecting voter cards.

A trader, Lakunle Alabi, stated that he was tired of coming to the centre without collecting his card. He said, “The first time I was asked to come for a collection was last December. I got here and was told that I should return the following day which was a Saturday. I have visited the centre many times thereafter.’’

Alabi said that he was not the only one in the same situation, noting that he has friends who have registered for their voter cards and were unable to get them despite being notified of their availability for collection.

Another trader, Anke Abiola, stated that it was hard to collect her voter card. Abiola said, “I was unable to collect my card before the last general elections because I was ill. However, after the time, I was told I can still get it which necessitated my returning to the centre.’’

Abiola noted that she had become tired of the development, noting that it was no longer interesting for her to waste transport fare to Irepo with the hope of securing her PVC. An INEC official at Oyo West Local Government who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to speak to the press, noted that the centre was working to ensure that the people collected their voter cards.

She stated, “What we plan to do at the moment is a door-to-door distribution of cards. We won’t take them to their houses but to the nearest collation centre of each ward for people to get their cards easily. We are not holding on to the cards. Once they are available, we will distribute to the owners.’’

Similarly, a visit to the INEC office, Akinyele Local Government Area Secretariat, Moniya, by revealed eligible voters who thronged the centre to collect their cards.

An auxiliary nurse, who identified herself only as Taiye, noted that she visited the INEC office for PVC collection but there was no positive result.

She said, “I changed my location to Moniya and I have been unable to get my card. This isn’t how a system is run. A viable solution should be adopted. Truth is that for every election in Nigeria, we repeat the same issue. If this crowd is not addressed, there may be a problem. Nigeria is one of the most populous countries in the world and annually, the numbers grow outrageously. Now, imagine how bigger this problem is going to be in a few years to come. The Federal Government would just continue to waste money in producing cards and building centres. Everything should go digital except voting but you see these cards, registration, capturing, collection can all be done with technology and that saves the country extra costs.”

Since December 12, 2022, when the INEC commenced distribution of PVCs across the country, many residents of Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital have been making efforts to get their cards but all proved abortive.

When one of our correspondents visited the Gayam Electoral Ward in the Lafia Local Government Area of the state on Thursday, eligible voters lamented that they were unable to get their PVCs due to the distribution method adopted by the commission.

A resident of Shinge community in the Lafia LGA, Hassan Abubakar, told that he had been coming to the centre to collect his PVC for two weeks, noting the crowd in the centre.

He said, “For over two weeks now, I have been making efforts to get my PVC but the crowd has continued to hinder me. And unfortunately, the INEC officials are only three in the ward attending to thousands of eligible voters. I really do not see the possibility of distributing the cards before the January 22 deadline.

“Many people are already giving up because they can’t keep coming here every day and not get their PVCs. Most of us left our businesses and family members to be here. We paid transport fare to get here, and after all these efforts, getting the cards has been a big deal. I’m really sad about the way things are happening regarding the collection process. INEC should extend the deadline to enable everyone to access their cards.”

Another voter, Praise Ukandu, said that the stress of getting her voter card was cumbersome, stating that she travelled every day from her current location to Gayam collection centre in the past one week but no result.

She appealed to INEC to deploy more officials to collection centres across the state to ease the frustration residents undergo in the process of PVC collection.

Ukandu stated, “I have been coming here for more than one week. I left all I was doing just to be here to collect my PVC. The Federal Government urged citizens to participate in elections and now that we are interested in participating, we are being frustrated out of the process because of inability to get our PVCs.’’

Another resident seen at the centre, Comfort Kenneth, said, “This is the fourth time I am coming for my PVC. It has been difficult to collect it. They have been telling me that my card is not ready for collection which indicates that it has not been printed. I am appealing to the commission to help us.’’

One of the voters, Ali Abass, however, commended the commission for its efforts in the PVC collection process. He stated that he got his PVC the same day he came to the Gayam centre. Abass said, “I want to thank INEC for its efforts and for ensuring smooth distribution of the PVCs accordingly. I didn’t undergo stress to get mine, so I am happy.’’

observed that INEC officials resumed distribution at the Gayam ward in Lafia at about 10am and ended the process at 2pm on Thursday.

It was gathered that the INEC in Nasarawa State gave a directive that the PVCs distribution should commence at 8am and end at 4pm across the 13 LGAs in the state.

Responding, Head, Department of Voter Education and Publicity, Ibrahim Onawo, expressed dismay over the complaints made by the voters at the Gayam ward, Lafia.

He promised to make findings to ascertain the true situation of things to enable the commission to proffer solutions to the challenges the eligible voters were facing.

Onawo said, “I am surprised that residents of the state are still facing challenges in getting their PVCs because the commission has put everything in place to ensure that the process is smooth because we want everyone to participate in the 2023 elections.  But talking about unprinted Permanent Voter Cards, I want to confirm to you that INEC has printed all PVCs and they are ready for collection. Where you don’t see them available, it could be a mix-up and I can assure you that before the distribution exercise ends on January 22 this year, all registered voters must have received their PVCs.’’

However, the exercise was hitch-free in most collection centres visited by in Akwa Ibom State.

Since the collection was moved to the ward levels, the exercise had started experiencing long queues and in some cases late arrival of INEC officials, especially in centres in the rural centres across the state.

One of our correspondents who visited Community Secondary School, Ikot-Oku, Ikono in the Uyo LGA of the state noted that the exercise was smooth even though some of the registered voters complained of late arrival of INEC officials.

The situation at Christ the King Nursery/Primary, Barracks road, also in Uyo LGA was not different as people were seen queuing up and collecting their PVCs without any hitch.

One of the eligible voters identified only as Nsikak said though the INEC officials arrived a bit late, the collection exercise was smooth.

He said, “I was one of the first people that arrived early this morning at 8pm before the arrival of the INEC officials. But on the whole, the exercise was smooth. There is no problem, people are collecting their PVCs and leaving.

He denied allegations that some party agents were at the collection centres to buy PVCs, adding, “I am not aware of that and I don’t think it’s possible considering the implications.’’

At Aka 1 Primary School, there was a long queue there as many eligible voters were seen in queues to collect their PVCs.

One of them, Uduak Akpan, who had collected hers, said there was a long queue at the time she arrived, adding that her PVC was in unit 34. She said, “There was a long queue. But since I made up my mind to collect it, there was nothing I could do than to wait and collect it today.’’

observed that at Okorobong Primary School in the Itu LGA, there were no queues but people complained of late arrival of INEC officials, blaming the development on the rough terrain.

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