Some residents in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State have lamented hardship in obtaining their Permanent Voter Cards from the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission.
They urged the electoral body to further decentralise the registration centres to ease the process of obtaining the PVCs.
PUNCH Metro gathered that some residents left their houses as early as 4am, while others slept at INEC office in the Government Residential Area, T.O.S. Benson Road, Ikorodu, in order to be among the first group to be attended to.
A 60-year-old resident, Christy Fofah, said some people came with mosquito nets to sleep at the INEC office.
She said, “People sleep at the gate where the security guards stay. Why should people leave their houses around 3am or 4am with the insecurity problem in Nigeria because they want to get PVCs? This is not the right way to get people to vote. I have been here since 7am and I have not been attended to. I hope I will get it today (Monday), because after today, I don’t think I will come back.”
Another resident, who identified herself simply as Ibunkun, said she trekked a long distance to get to the INEC office.
The 22-year-old undergraduate noted that the exercise was not well organised.
A businesswoman, Oluwafemi Adedayo, appealed to the government to decentralise the registration centres.
She said, “The only INEC registration office in Ikorodu has one entrance. Before I entered, The only INEC registration office in Ikorodu has one entrance. Before I entered, the crowd almost killed me, I squeezed myself to enter, but despite that, I have not been able to register.
“People want to have the PVC before the deadline. Many elderly people are here; my dad and mum who are over 70 are here. You can imagine someone that old rushing with young people because of PVC.”
Ayinde Sikiru, a 21-year-old barber, lamented that the INEC office in the area had three computers serving Ikorodu.
He alleged that some people who came late for registration bribed their ways to obtain their PVCs.
He said, “Even if you enter, you have to bribe them with N500 or N1,000 to register. People are everywhere, there is no order. If I obtain the PVC, I am not sure I will vote because I am totally discouraged.”
A 70-year-old pensioner, Adefemi Ojo, who claimed to have resided in Lagos for over 50 years, said he had to struggle with the youth to register.
Ojo said, “I was not pitied because of my age; I have been here since 8am and I have not been able to achieve anything. I am an elderly person; they are supposed to answer us because we don’t have strength as the younger ones.”
A salesman, Fadayomi Akinola, said Lagos residents were having tough times registering for their PVCs.
The 59-year-old, who resided in Abesan, Ipaja Estate, Ipaja, said, “I had tried many times to register in Alimosho, but it was stressful. That was why I came to Ikorodu because it is closer to where I work. But surprisingly, the same stress that I faced in Alimosho is what I am facing here.
“If you come by 4am, you will meet a lot of people. And despite coming early, you can be here for 24 hours and still not get anything done.
“The INEC officers have a target for each day. After meeting that target, they will stop attending to people; this is bad. I don’t believe that 55 per cent of the people in Ikorodu have voter cards. INEC also needs to increase the number of its workers so that the registration will be fast and easy.”
The INEC’s Public Relations Officer, Femi Akinbiyi, apologised for the hardship Lagosians were going through to obtain their PVCs, saying the commission was working to improve on the process.
He said, “We are trying as much as possible to improve our activities. However, many people want to get to the registration centres and get registered almost immediately. It does not work that way.
“We have decentralised the registration centres in all the local government areas in Lagos State; we also added Saturday and Sunday and even extended the closing date for registration to make it convenient and to allow more people to get registered.
“The story is the same everywhere; it is not Lagos alone. But if you want to talk of Lagos, talk of Lagos in relation to its population. As of August 7, the commission had registered about 633,000 people and averagely, 500 to 600 people are registered in each LGA per day. What our workers use are machines and machines have the rate at which they can move. So, people should bear with us.
“Anyone that accuses our official of extortion should provide evidence so that we can pin them down. But the public should also assist us by standing for their rights and refusing to pay a dime to anybody for registration. They should make a noise so that such an official can be exposed.”