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PVC: Seadogs embark on registration awareness

It was remarkable when the Mainland chapter in conjunction with Netherlands chapter of National Association of Seadogs (NAS) Pyrates Confraternity defied the rain to carry out their citizen’s summit campaign on Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) during the weekend .

The chapter which comprises, Lagos West and Lagos Central senatorial zones trouped out in their large numbers to inform the public on how important it is for them to participate in the on-going voters’ registration exercise.

The enlightenment programme was carried out simultaneously in all the units of the association within the senatorial zone despite the rain. Members who reside in YabaSurulere and Festac grouped themselves together in their area to distribute flyers as theymarched through the streets, interface with the members of the public through one-on-one contact and the public address system with the message; Get your PVC.

PVCs
PVCs

However, it will be recalled that when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fixed the closing date for voters’ registration exercise on August 17, 2018, the decision was met with far reaching public outcry.

Many argued that the exercise should be continuous because the Electoral Act 2010 (with 2011 amendments) in its section 10 (1) made an express proviso that there shall be continuous registration of all persons qualified to be voters.

They protest that if INEC close registration exercise, what else would be their job as it will appear that the commission will be without any basic functions from then on

But the commission has come out to counter that they will need sufficient time to collate and update voters’ records before the election proper. Hence, basing their argument on the same electoral act section 9 (5) which stated that the registration of voters, updating and revision of the register of voters under this section shall stop not later than 60 days before any election.

It was in the midst of all these argument that the federal government decided to extend the closing date to August 31, 2018 which still does not go down well with the public owing to the myriads of challenges that is currently facing the exercise nationwide. Meanwhile, INEC in their official website has also agreed that the exercise will be continuous so that citizens who turn 18 years before election will be captured but that the stipulated 60 days is only meant for them to collate and update the voters’ records that will be sent to the different political parties for verification. In all ramifications, the exercise is supposed and should be continuous.

Moreover, Members of NAS took their campaign through YabaTejuoshoOjuelegba, Barracks, combed all the market arenas and terminated at the National Stadium, while the Surulere axis AgudaIkateLawansonIjesha, Bode Thomas, ShittaAdeniranOgunsanya, IponriAlaka and also terminated at the Stadium where there was media interview and briefing to address the public further.

Those at the Festact axis spread their enlightenment throughout the Festac environs, covering Amuwo– OdofinSatelitetown, and Ago-Palace and its environs.

Their campaigns captured densely populated areas like markets, bus stops, public places and streets as a contact points where people can be reached through public enlightenment.

While the campaigns were carried out, members of the public complained bitterly about how difficult it is to get registered. They said that no matter how early they try to get to the registration venues, the crowd that besiege the centres are overwhelming and discouraging.

Some narrate that they have been to the venues more than five times without the success of being registered in spite of however early they got to there, stressing that the most discouraging aspect of the entire process was despite getting there early, political parties and other influential citizens send people who are preferentially registered before them

Others accuse INEC officials of lackadaisical attitude to work because they resume registration very late and close quite early and in the mist of their slow pace of registration, negligence is their hallmark.

Also, INEC officials are accused of sharp practices andthe public allege that the officials collect between 2,000 and 5,000 naira to get people registered.

However, due to the inconsistencies that has marred the process, the public is vehemently of the view that the closing date should be extended or lefopen to continue as the electoral act has stipulated because any other contrary policy would lead to disenfranchising a whole lot of citizens from 2019 election.

In conclusion, the president of Mainland chapter, Charles Nagudia who led the summit said in an interview that the campaign has enabled people to speak up but promised that all their complaints will be collated and sent to INEC as a feedback. The feedback is hoped to guide their further decision on voters’ registration.

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