Explainer: Why youths find voter registration process frustrating

The number of Nigerians willing to take a day off from work to register for Permanent Voter Card (PVC) is more than what officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can handle in the next few days. Crowds thronging daily to voter registration centres across Nigeria to register have now increased ahead of next year’s general elections. INEC expects the number of youths who will take part in the next elections to skyrocket before the continuous voter registration ends on June 30.

Those who have tried and failed to register are angry. Some, especially the youths who form the bulk of Nigerians of voting age, are suspicious. They wonder why it’s difficult to exercise their constitutional right. “Is INEC overwhelmed? Perhaps they need to employ more hands. I feel this is their strategy; it’s a ploy to ensure the youths don’t vote. They want to keep recycling the same set of very old and senile people, so they can keep lining the pockets of the same set of people with our collective wealth,” said a Lagos resident who spoke with BusinessDay on condition of anonymity.

Several youths have expressed dissatisfaction with the registration process in a series of tweets.

“INEC yahoo yahoo refused to extend PVC registration meanwhile millions of Nigerian youths have not registered… APC knows how to rig elections. This is unacceptable,” a Twitter user, Onyiforlife, said.

“…This is INEC office at Asaba… The INEC officials had locked citizens out from registration,” Lloydsfoods said.

“This is INEC Office at Area 10 Abuja this morning. We’re ready but @inecnigeria is not. Peter Obi’s candidacy has exposed many loopholes in INEC,” another Twitter, with the handle Ordinary_Her, said.

“Today in Garki Area 10 Abuja, the youths stranded for PVC registration ordered an INEC official who came to work late to go back home. We are taking back our country, about 30 youths volunteered immediately to help out with registration, we don’t need incompetence anymore,” a tweep, with the handle Collins 8878, said.

According to data compiled by BusinessDay from the INEC website, the South-East and South-South regions have 226 and 272 registration centres respectively, the lowest across the six regions in Nigeria. They also have the lowest number of completed registrations, 585,000 and 725,000 respectively.

The North-West and South-West, which have the highest numbers of registration centres across all regions, also have the highest numbers of completely registered voters 1.33 and 1.3 million respectively.

In a statement on June 10, INEC said it had noticed an unprecedented surge in the number of citizens wishing to register as voters and would deploy 209 additional machines to places where the pressure is most acute: Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, and Imo, Lagos and Kano.

As of June 6, a total of 12.2 million voters were registered – almost half are students.

At the #YouthVoteConcert held at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos on June 11, to encourage youths to register and vote, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said 5,000 youths had registered within a week at TBS.

Read also: Pictures of Nigerians registering for their Permanent Voters Card (PVC)

What steps must people take to get PVCs?

Intended voters who want to get their PVCs must first register online, then go to an INEC office to have their pictures taken and fingerprints recorded and given slips to collect their voter cards on specific dates.

Those who want to transfer their polling unit, update their records, or replace a damaged or lost card don’t have to go to an INEC office. They can do this online with their smartphones through the INEC site,

Where can people get their PVCs?

Nigerians who have completed their registration and are waiting to collect their PVCs can do so after the end of the Continuous Voters Registration process at their local governments.

What’s the difference between online registration and completed registration?
For the online registration, intended voters are meant to access the INEC portal. The INEC chairman said the portal allows a two-step registration process in which first, prospective registrants log in to pre-register by providing their basic biodata and some biometrics and second to complete the registration by physically presenting themselves at a designated registration centre of their choice. Registration is complete when the fingerprints have been recorded.

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