By CHIMEZIE ANASO
AWKA- There has been an upsurge in interest by potential voters in Anambra to get the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC), or replace lost ones.
Potential voters have been thronging to the INEC office in Awka to process the card, which some of them said was necessary now that political parties were concluding their primary elections.
Some of them told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday that they had been going to the INEC office every day since Monday to get the card without success.
They charged INEC to deploy more equipment and personnel to the exercise so as to expedite the issuance of the cards.
INEC officials in Awka, however, told NAN that they were coping well, but expressed disappointment that potential voters waited till the 11th hour to register in an exercise that began about one year ago.
Mr Joseph Mmadu, a businessman said he was not happy to have abandoned his business the whole day and still not succeed in getting a replacement for his missing voter card.
He said he was at the INEC office for the second consecutive day and expressed the hope that the process would be quick enough to enable him to return to his business.
“Today is my second day of visiting for this exercise. On Wednesday, INEC did not grant us access into the premises and today we have been in long queues for hours.
“I used to have the card but lost it. I want a new one because I want to vote at the 2023 elections.’’ he said.
Miss Chidimma Achebe, a student described the exercise as stressful but commended INEC for letting aspiring voters into the premises.
Achebe said she was a first time registrant having attained the age of 18 years 10 months ago. She said she was not aware of the registration until last week.
“It has not been easy, as you can see we are many here. I just wish there is a way they could make this registration faster,’’ she said.
A nursing mother, Mrs Winifred Okafor, had a positive story to tell as she said she got preferential treatment from INEC staff on account of being a nursing mother.
Chima Christian, a political activist, called on INEC to expand infrastructure to accommodate the surge in the demand for PVCs which following the conduct of primary elections by political parties.
Christian said residents were willing to exercise their franchise but that INEC seemed not to be prepared to attend to prospective Anambra voters.
“I am not in a position to speculate on the possibility of technical disenfranchisement of Anambra voters.
“What I know is that current human and material resources deployed to cover the Continuous Voter Registration in Anambra are inadequate.
“We have received several allegations of registration racketeering. Compromised INEC staff now allegedly collect bribes from residents to fast track their registration.
“INEC should deploy at least 326 data capturing devices in Anambra,’’ he said.
Mr Reginald Onyeukwu, INEC’s Public Affairs Officer in Anambra blamed the surge on carefree attitude of the electorate.
Onyeukwu said the process had been going on since the beginning of the year, but people did not take it seriously until the last minutes.
He added that before the surge, INEC barely got 10 persons to register on daily basis.
Onyeukwu stressed that INEC had adequate men and equipment to handle the pressure, but that youths must give way to the elderly, nursing mothers and pregnant women to get preferential treatment.
He said the exercise was free and challenged those making claims of extortion by INEC officials to promptly report errant staff. (NAN)