As the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, exercise approaches its closing date, voters in Anambra are alleging technical disenfranchisement against the Southeast region by the Independent national Electoral Commission, INEC.
The people are calling on the Commission to create additional registration centres to cater for the high number of people turning up for the ongoing CVR exercise.
TNC Correspondent who visited some centres across the state, reports massive turnout of persons coming to seek one service or another from the INEC, amidst very inefficient service by the electoral body.
In some of the local government where insecurity is rife, CVR activities have been moved to the local government secretariats, but visits to the LGA centres showed just about one or two machines working, instead of the entire machines relocated from the designated centres.
According to information gathered by our correspondent in the field, there are just 22 registration centres, 44 data capturing devices and about 176 INEC staff deployed on CVR exercise in the entire Anambra State.
This is against the background that Anambra has 326 political wards, 5,720 polling units and a 2020 population estimate of about 6.3 million.
A voter, who is also a social affairs commentator, Chima Christian, observed that there appears to be low voter registration in the Southeast, not because the people are not turning out, but because there are not enough equipment to cater for the needs of those who came out.
“At the average time of 6 minutes per completed registration, and the number of man-hours available till the conclusion of this exercise, there is already a limit as to the number of eligible Anambra voters INEC can successfully process their registration requests.
“I am not in a position to speculate on the possibility of technical disenfranchisement of Anambra voters till I review registration resource data of other states/regions.
“What I know however is that current human and material resources deployed to cover the CVR exercise in Anambra state are largely inadequate.
“As a result of this inadequacy, we have received several accusations of registration racketeering.
“Compromised INEC staff now allegedly collect bribes from citizens to fast track their registrations.
“The alternative might be to spend the whole day at the centre without a guarantee of successful registration.
“This is frustrating,” he said
On his part, the Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Anambra State, Okelo Madukaife, said INEC has no excuse to deny any person who seeks its services during the CVR exercise the opportunity to participate, calling on the people not to be discouraged by the INEC’s ineptitude.
According to him, if INEC could be firm in insisting on the deadline for the conclusion of party primaries, they should deploy the same resoluteness in ensuring that nothing deters citizens from participating in the exercise.
“I also want to encourage our people not to relent because of the inefficiency of the INEC.
“I know it might be frustrating but citizens should persevere,” he advised.
A politician and public affairs analyst, Nnanna Nzewi noted that the surge in the population participating in the CVR, indicates an increasing consciousness among the people to participate in the electoral process, urging INEC to extend the deadline for the exercise.
“It is no longer news that the frustration and marginalization Igbos suffer in Nigeria, have suddenly reawaken their consciousness to the need to control political power.
“There is also a general feeling of loss of confidence in government because of the bad leadership.
“These and other very negative precedents are the reason why our people are rising to the occasion, to vote in a candidate they have confidence in, to steer the affairs of the nation in the most efficient manner,” Nzewi said.
Efforts to reach the Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of Anambra, Dr Nkwachukwu Orji to speak on the matter was unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.