- Category: Politics
- Published on Thursday, 20 January 2011 08:49
- Written by Leadership
- Hits: 2148
Five days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) kicked off the voter registration exercise, prospective voters are still expressing anger and frustration over their inability to register after staying many hours on the queue.
The NBA President, Mr Joe Daudu (SAN), expressed the fears at the inauguration of a new executive for the Abuja Branch of the association.
The president said that if the problems were not addressed immediately, it would disenfranchise many Nigerians.
“The NBA was also worried over the hitches including malfunctioning DDC machines and late arrival of officials, which have all affected a smooth take-off of the voter registration in the 36 states of the federation.
“Our findings so far are those of disappointment, frustration and violence, which have hallmarked the exercise, which commenced across the country on Saturday,” he said.
Daudu said that because of the shaky start of the exercise, the NBA had set up 36 complaints centres in the country to collate various problems associated with the exercise.
He said the NBA would forward its recommendations on the exercise to the Federal Government.
Daudu said that so much money and time had gone into the planning and execution of the voter registration and a lot needed to be done to “get it right”.
Also speaking on the issue, the new Chairman of the Abuja branch of the NBA, Mr Afam Osigwe, said that the problems being experienced with the voter registration were a sad commentary on our national life.
“It is a clear evidence of lack of planning and failure to build institutions as well as lack of attention to merit.
“One wonders whether the right calibre of persons were selected to supply this equipment. This is one exercise that must succeed,’’ he said.
Osigwe said that to get the April general elections right and lay a foundation for credible elections in Nigeria, urgent attention must be given to the identified lapses in the ongoing exercise.
In a related development, Chief Ngam Nwachukwu, Nigeria’s former Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea has complained against the absence of a voter registration centre in Games Village, Abuja.
Nwachukwu said that the village was a town in itself and that merging it with Galadimawa was not convenient for them.
“There would be restriction of movement during elections and we will not be able to trek frm our place to Galadimawa.
“INEC should have considered that Games Village itself needed two registration centres due to its population,” Nwachukwu added.
He, however, commended the turnout for the registration so far.
A civil servant, Mrs Elizabeth Dauda called on government to declare public holidays to enable workers participate fully in the ongoing exercise. Dauda stated that she spent two days to get registered, noting that the machines were too slow. A businessman, Mr Sunday Danjuma said the pace was too slow and that it discouraged many who had the will to be registered.
Danjuma lamented that people got to the centre at 5.a.m. and still not get registered for a whole day, and called on INEC to ensure speedy registration.
Mr Sunday Baba, a Registration Officer said there had been tremendous improvement on the number of those coming to register. “At the initial stage, I registered only 35 people, but now, I have registered up to 150 people.
Also, some residents of Mararaba in Nasarawa called for more registration centres, DDC machines and extension of date to enable qualified persons to register. The exercise was chaotic at the Chief’s Palace, the Mararaba bus stop and the Midland Plaza centres in Mararaba.
Also, some residents of Orozo called on INEC to address the delay in the registration caused by malfunctioning DDC machines. At the Orozo Primary School, Sani Kubau said his hope of participating in the voter registration was fading by the day.
“We are suffering because the machines have refused to work. The masses always face hardship when they want to exercise their voting rights. Many Nigerians will not forgive the government if they are unable to vote as a result of their inability to be registered,” he said.
A corps member who was conducting the registration, said the situation was improving on a daily basis, adding that the people should exercise some patience.
“The first day was terrible, network was very poor, but today, we are gradually overcoming some of these challenges,” the corps member who craved anonymity said.
He said that in spite of the fact that they were yet to be paid their allowances, they were committed to the success of the exercise.
“We are hungry, but we are doing our best. Please tell INEC to pay us our allowances. The whole exercise is going on smoothly except that we have run out of printing ink. Even with unstable network, we are managing,” he added.
Some residents of Gwagwalada Area Council said they had yet to collect their temporary cards four days after being “registered. I registered since Sunday, but I was not given my temporary voter’s card. They asked me to return the next day for it. I have been coming since that day while they kept telling me to come back later,” Andrew Ijagbemi said.
INEC officials blamed the development on the non-availability of printers and ink in some centres. Although there was improvement in the exercise, long queues of people waiting to be registered were still noticeable. Mr Sulaman Isa of the Alliance for Credible Registration called on Nigerians to be patient with the system.
He added that the initial problems experienced with the machines and its components would soon be overcome. He expressed optimism that the voter registration would be successful in spite of the hiccups experienced at the beginning.
Meanwhile, the NYSC members engaged in Edo as ad hoc staff for the ongoing voter registration said Nigerians should not expect their best because of nonpayment of some of their allowances. Some of them interviewed in Auchi in Edo on Wednesday told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they had not been paid some allowances due to them for the exercise.
One of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that their daily transport and feeding allowances as well as the allowance for the three days training before the registration began were yet to be paid to them.
The INEC ad hoc staff expressed concern over the way INEC officials were handling the situation and expressed the fear that if not handled with urgency, it would affect the outcome of the registration.