Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Ahead of the 2023 general election, voters in Anambra State have lamented increasing frustrations and hardships being experienced in the process of collecting their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC) at various locations across the state.
The voters blamed the ugly development on the staff and management of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
While some accused some of the staff of alleged demand for gratification, others called on INEC to device less cumbersome approach to the process.
Mrs Elizabeth Obi, a nursing mother at the Awka center, said she has gone to get her PVC as a patriotic and law-abiding citizen but was unsuccessful.
She regretted that the frustrations and discouragement might lead to abandonment of many voters card and disenfranchisement of many citizens.
A community leader in Onitsha, Chief Dr. Mentus Onwuaso, decried how he tried unsuccessfully for three times to register to no avail.
He said, “for three times I’ve been to INEC office to collect my voter’s card without success.
“Unfortunately, our political leaders, political parties, politicians and stakeholders are not helping matters as their apathy and indifference towards difficulties encounters by registrants leaves much to be desired.
“They should mobilize citizens to obtain their voters’ card and visit INEC offices to intervene and resolve complaints of the citizenry.
“For us to get it right and ensure that every registrant gets his voter’s card, they must embark on operation collect your voter’s card and voter’s card is free.
“They should ensure that in words, deeds and actions that voter’s card registration and collections is truly and really free and accessible.”
Another voter, Joseph Okeke, at Nnewi center, lamented that he abandoned his business for three days to obtain his voter’s card without success.
“INEC should beam its searchlight and fish out bad eggs in their midst and prosecute them. This will certainly act as deterrent to others.
“They should constitute men and women of impeccable integrity to unravel circumstances surrounding purported demand for gratifications from the staff before voters card collection.
“Sometimes, you will be told to come back or your card is not ready or it will be difficult to find your card unless it can play ball,” he alleged.
On his part, Chairman, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) in the State, Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme, appealed to National Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Mahmoud Yakubu to rescue registrants from excruciating frustrations and sufferings.
He urged INEC to device strategic and less cumbersome ways of PVC distribution, saying if urgent and immediate step was not taking, the voting strength of the state and entire South-East would be below expectations.
He said, “INEC must intervene without delay and rescue registrants from avoidable frustrations and excruciating sufferings they encounter while trying to get their voters card as directed by INEC.
“Religious, traditional, markets, Town Unions and civil society organisations leaders should redouble and rededicate their efforts towards mobilising citizens for active participation in the electoral process.
“It is a call for urgent action as many registrants have vowed never to go to INEC office again as other states receive their PVC with ease and comfort.”
Reacting, an INEC official in one of the centers in Onitsha who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the apparent frustration in the process might not be unconnected with the delay in arrival of the cards from the headquarters.
She said the ones currently being issued are the most recent; predominantly those of voters who turned 18 years, calling for patience on the part of the electorate.