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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Why apathy marred display of voters’ list

By Adetokunbo Abiola
Barely a few months to the next general elections, voters refused to check the voters’ list for the inclusion or non-inclusion of their names for the exercise.

According to news reports, a low turnout had been recorded in Ondo State mainly in towns such as Okitipupa, Ore, Ondo, Ikare, Akure and others.

For example, out of 15 polling units visited in Akure last week, very few persons were seen checking their names.

At Okitipupa in Ondo South Senatorial district, it was the same case of low voters’ turnout, as people stayed away from the exercise.

The exercise took place over one week, kicking off last week on November 6.

It was in line with the provision of section 19 of the Electoral Act 2012 (as amended), to afford the electorate the opportunity to inspect and raise claims and objections on the list.

Claims that could be raised included the inclusion of dead persons’ names on the list as well as cases of identity misrepresentation.

Others included raising concerns over the availability of Permanent Voters Card (PVC) but absence of voters’ names on the list.

Voters could also complain if their names were present on the list but their PVCs were unavailable at the collection centres.

People could raise claims if their names were not in the list and their PVCs were unavailable, despite the fact that they took part in the registration exercise.

The last two days of the exercise had been reserved for claims and objections.

According to INEC, a total of 1,736,623 names had been displayed while a total number of 1,372,158 PVCs had been distributed to the state.

Out of the PVCs distributed, a total of 364,265 PVCs were still pending at the electoral body prior to the display of the state’s voters list.

Considering the importance of next year’s elections, why are voters reluctant to check their names on the voters’ list?

According to news reports, the reason may be because INEC did not do enough to publicise its exercise, so many people did not know it  was taking place.

Speaking to The Hope, Ezekiel Janet said had INEC gone round with a publicity van to inform people about the exercise they would have turned out  in large numbers.

Another reason could be because voters were displeased with the quality of leadership they are  getting from the political class.

To show their disenchantment with the electoral process, they decided to stay  away.

Speaking to the Hope, a voter, Eledume Foluso, said the low voters’ turnout was because people they voted for in the past did not remember them.

Consequently, they saw their going to check their names as an exercise merely to waste the time they could have used for other profitable ventures.

For others, the low voters turnout was because political parties did not do enough to sensitise eligible voters about the exercise.

As far as they were concerned, political parties and INEC should have joined hands together to make voters aware that they needed to check their names on the register.

Unfortunately, the ramifications for error on the list be devastating for voters who want to participate in next year’s polls.

“This is a very important aspect of the electoral process and very critical in INEC’s preparations for the 2019 elections. We expect that it will be taken serious by the electorate,” said Professor Okechukwu Ibeano, the INEC National Coordinator of Abia, Anambra, Imo Ebonyi and Enugu states.

He stated that those whose names were not found in voters’ list during the elections will be automatically disenfranchised.

This become crucial as the last INEC voter  exercise for the year would only be for the issuance of PVCs to legitimate owners.

In other words, a large number of people, say experts, have been disenfranchised already for refusal to participate in the display of voters’ list.

According to INEC, 364,265 PVCs are pending in its offices for collection in Ondo State.

But if voters did not show interest during the display of voters’ list, how will they know their PVCs are languishing in INEC’s offices?

Perhaps they are waiting for INEC’s other programmes for the issuance of PVCs to legitimate voters.

In any case, indications show a large number of Nigerian did not register in the  first place.

Out of these who registered, lots of people failed to lodge complaints during the review of voters’ list, meaning outright disenfranchisement.

Still more would not bother to collect their PVC from INEC offices.

For a nation seeking to consolidate its democracy, these are very terrifying indicators indeed.

The Hope Owena Press
The Hope Owena Presshttp://www.thehopenewspaper.com
Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure


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