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General News of Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Source: www.thisdaylive.com

Youths protest, demand more machines for voter registration in Enugu

Youth file photo Youth file photo

Youths in Enugu, yesterday, held a protest against what they perceive as a deliberate ploy by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to disenfranchise voters in the South-east region.

The protesters in their thousands marched from Okpara Square to the state office of the INEC, where they demanded for the deployment of more machines to allow people to register and have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) ahead of the 2023 general elections.

As they marched towards the office of the commission, the protesters were heard chanting “INEC, give us more machines,” “PVC is our right,” “INEC has been joking with us, the registration is slow.”

Some of those who spoke to THISDAY said that it had become clear that the INEC intended to disenfranchise many Nigerians, particularly, those from the South-east.

One of the protesters, Ezeaputa Ike, said it was sad that voting is stressful in the region, unlike in the north and in other parts of the country where it is easy for people to get registered.

According to him, “it is unfair that the INEC is frustrating the efforts of young Nigerians who had woken up and are willing to take part In the political process to change the bad governance in the country.

“Many things are not working in Nigeria again, there is insecurity, the education system is collapsing, there is no power and the best way to change the situation is through voting in credible leaders which is what we want to do.”

Another protester, identified as Ozoemena, said that many of them have been coming to the venue of registration for the past two weeks, yet, they have not been able to register because of a lack of enough machines and other materials.

He explained that when the registration started, there were eight machines and after some time, it was reduced to five machines and then two machines, adding that yesterday, only one machine was left.

“Some of us abandon our workplaces and other things we have to do and gather every day. How is one machine supposed to serve the thousands of people who gathered to get registered,” he said.

However, there have been several reports about how frustrating the process has been for reasons ranging from lack of enough machines to lack of personnel and poor network.

It would be recalled that the INEC had announced the approval and release of additional 209 machines to the five Southeast states, as well as Lagos and Kano states, after it received several complaints, indicating an unprecedented surge in the number of citizens that wish to register.

After the news, there were questions and concerns about whether the machines that will be sent to the South-east would serve the number of people who want to get registered.

The Residential Electoral Commissioner for Enugu, Mr Emeka Ononamadu, had confirmed receipt of over 20 additional machines for the state during a press briefing where he also said that the commission had set out strategies to ensure that eligible registrants who put themselves forward will be registered.

“We are going to expand the update centres by more than 34 and reallocate registration machines from places of low turnout to areas with higher upsurge.

“We have improved on publishing the CVR centres to avoid many registrants crowding around one or two major centres,” he said.

He explained that contrary to reports that the commission intends to disenfranchise citizens, work is in progress to ensure that all eligible voters are registered within time.

“INEC practices inclusivity and that is one of the reasons why new polling units have been created to ensure that more voters are able to register and that low turnout during the election is addressed,” he said.

Although the process has been frustrating, the people said that they were not willing to give up. They expect the commission to extend its deadline and provide more machines for people to get registered and vote for their choice in 2023.

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