*mobile registration centres approved for Niger State
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Though the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) is concerned about ensuring that no eligible citizen is disenfranchised, the Niger State office of the electoral body said it has in store some 132,985 permanent voters cards that were yet to be collected by those who registered.
Since the commencement of the current voters update exercise, the Commission has so far registered 95,434 eligible voters and this number are those who are waiting for the final production and collection of their Permanent Voters’ Card, (PVC).
The number according to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Sam Egwu is made up of 61,687 males and 33,747 females.
Minna, the Niger state capital according to the REC has the highest number of registered voters followed closely by Suleja and other urban/commercial towns in the state.
Prof. Egwu disclosed in an interview at the weekend that besides the recognized 274 Wards across the state where registration update had commenced for the first quarter 2018, INEC Headquarters had given approval to Niger state to create additional registration points to ensure that all eligible voters across the state were captured.
“We have been mandated to establish something like mobile registration centres in localities and settlements which are so located far away from any of the registration points approved for a wards. This is to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised from participating in elections” he said.
With the Continuous Voters Education and exercise, Prof. Egwu said the Commission in the state was doing all that was legally possible and as mandated by INEC headquarters, Abuja to ensure that those who were not of age at the time the exercise was last conducted, but have now come of age by virtue of having attained the requisite 18 years and or above, are captured.
The mobile registration centres are to be experimented in the first quarter of 2018, Egwu who however did not give the exact number of such mobile centres to be established explained is to ensure that settlements far from any of the 274 Wards registration centres are not disenfranchised.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner explained that as at last April, (2017), there were 33 voter registration centres in Niger state but subsequently approval was given for 10 aditional centres.
”Today on the directives of INEC Headquarters, we are to generate more centres along communities and settlements that are far from places people would have oridinarily registered but couldn’t do so because of distance” he further explained.
Prof. Egwu further explained that because some local government councils were more densely populated than others, the creation of mobile registration centres was to make up for such areas with huge population of persons to ensure that all eligible voters are captured ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Niger state Resident Electoral Commissioner has however expressed consternation over attitude of some eligible voters in the state who have refused to come and collect their permanent voters cards from the Commission.
Prof. Egwu lamented that despite repeated announcements on organs of communication, voter education, awareness campaigns and enlightment exercise, some eligible persons have refused to understand that civic responsibilities include obtaining the voter’s card for voting at election.
He said those who have responded by presenting themselves to be registered, must complete the exercise by coming forward to claim their voter’s card with which they could vote at election. “It is unfortunate that many of us only stop at registration and we don’t come forward to collect our PVCs”.