Since the extension of the deadline for the Continuous Voter Registration exercise and the near conclusion of the primary elections, there has been a surge in the interest of the masses to complete their voter registration, PVC transfer or replacement. While the citizens are willing to perform their patriotic duty as has been evidenced by the crowds in various registration centres, field data obtained by this writer reveals INEC’s unpreparedness to cater to Anambra’s voter registration demands. Per the field reports available to this writer, there are just 22 registration centres, 44 data capturing devices and about 176 INEC staff deployed on CVR exercise in the whole of Anambra State.
For context, Anambra has 326 political wards, 5,720 polling units and a 2020 population estimate of 6.3 million. 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 @inecnigeria 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 @inecnigeria 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.
I am calling on @inecnigeria to immediately deploy at least 326 data capturing devices in Anambra State. These devices are to be deployed to the various INEC local government offices according to the number of wards in those LGAs. For instance, Nnewi North LGA which has ten wards must have at least ten registration points inside the approved centre to cater for the huge population that daily besiege that registration centre.
I am also calling on Anambra INEC to work with security agencies to draw up an action plan for ward level registration exercise in the 13 local government areas of the state that is not severely impacted by the activities of “unknown gunmen.” I am equally calling on the government of Anambra State ably led by @CSoludo to immediately deploy security resources around the 22 registration centres in the state and any other registration centres that may be approved in the future.
In the wake of recent developments in Anambra, government must take all necessary precautions to ensure that @inecnigeria staff on CVR duty in Anambra and prospective Anambra voters who are now clustered in various registration centres are offered all necessary protection.
The coming general elections hold so much promise for Nigerians. Even as we encourage more and more eligible citizens to plan to vote for their preferred candidates, I invite every critical stakeholder to play their part to make the process seamless.
Nigeria’s morning is near.