From Uzoh Nwakaije, Awka.
The Civil Liberties Organization(CLO), Anambra State Branch is estimating that over 800,000 Permanent Voters’s Cards are lying uncollected at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices, just as it called on the commission to urgently take appropriate measures to ensure that the motive for the ongoing continuous voters registration exercise across the country is not defeated.
CLO noted that after its review of the ongoing exercise that it has become necessary that the INEC takes steps to address some problems and constraints already affecting the success of the exercise.
The State CLO Chairman, Comrade Vincent Ezekwueme, Secretary, Chidi Mbah and Campaign/Publicity Secretary, Nicholas Amoke, in a press statement released yesterday in Onitsha titled, ‘A clarion call for decentralization of the exercise to polling units’, said the essence of democracy is anchored on mass participation of the citizens in any national programme.
The statement said CLO regretted that the ongoing exercise is cumbersome and tedious when potential voters are subjected to cover a distance of 20 kilometers or more to get voters cards, which has resulted ina complete low turnout of voters.
“This apathy is even more on those below the age of 20 years who are mostly the target of the exercise. We equally observed with dismay that there is dearth of INEC staff to carry out the exercise in some areas, and in some cases, eligible voters, who turned up for registration were asked to go and come back the next day.
“The idea of restricting the exercise to local government headquarters will erode the exercise and disenfranchise many potential voters”, CLO noted.
The group called on INEC to make haste and provide logistics to ensure that the exercise is extended to polling units as was the previous practice before the current exercise.
They equally urged INEC to extend the deadline for the exercise, while advocating for a holistic synergy among stakeholders like traditional rulers, religious bodies and civil society organisations to ensure that adequate awareness is created.
They further urged Anambra residents to avail themselves of the opportunity offered by the exercise to get their Voters Cards, saying it would ensure that they take active part in the upcoming Anambra State governorship election later this year and other general elections in Nigeria.
The group also appealed to the Anambra State government and politicians in the state to do everything within their power to ensure that the registration exercise is successful in the state.
According to the CLO, It is estimated that over eight hundred thousand (800,000) permanent Voters Cards are still lying uncollected at various Local Government Councils.