Friday, January 16, 2015


I have written on my experience trying to register during the Continuous Voters Registration for the February elections. The experience was horrendous and If I did not have an understanding  manager, I definitely would not have been able to register. I spent three days trying to register and was successful  because of my persistence and the officials who had been seeing me around. The process the electoral body used to register during the last exercise automatically disenfranchised citizens who want to vote and also have to go to work. 
Government processes and procedures do not have to be tedious and miserable. Man hours do not have to be wasted because citizens want to perform their civic duties. An easy and efficient process is possible 

I saw this first hand when I processed my Driver’s license. I decided not to pay anyone to process my driver’s license so in April/May 2014, I filled the online form on the government’s portal and paid the fees. The forms were submitted to the FRSC and I waited to be called for capture- the stage where my biometric data capture will be taken. I received a text about a month later to come for capture but I did not go on my appointment date. I went to the  centre on a random day  in July with my father hoping that his grey hair will work wonders and I am not turned back.
Fortunately, I did not have to. We explained to the official that I missed my appointment and all he asked for was the appointment date and he retrieved my records. He told me to join the queue. In 45 minutes, without tipping or knowing anyone, I was done and I was given my temporary driver’s license. I was so amazed at the efficiency and service of the officials. Another colleague had a similar experience processing her Driver's License. I am aware other people have different stories to tell but my experience shows that the grief and agony  that  citizens experience with public institutions is man-made and unnecessary.
Institutions through lack of  administrative organization create unpleasantness so that people are incentivized to pay for faster service which is not remitted to the government - though there are some people who are impatient and want to beat the system-

Back to registration nightmare, humans were treated like goats. We stood hours on end in the sun waiting to register, area boys came  with sticks and bottles to disrupt the queues  so that people who have paid them would register. Even for the staff, registration was tormenting. The idea of making them sit in the sun, giving them laptops with no means to charge them when the system powers down is undignifying. At the polling unit I registered, some residents provided the generator and fuel that was used to charge the systems. Some provided food. The officials will arrive at about 10am and prepare to leave by 4-4.30.
INEC was/is not well prepared for the elections. First, voters registration should be continuous and should have started since 2012 or 2013 especially since the cards are not produced locally. Giving a one-week timeline to register people is constraining. Registration of voters and preparing a Voters register should not be exclusive. 
Alternatively, INEC and FRSC should collaborate so that when people come to get their driver’s license they are automatically registered. Then, fresh voters can register and vote in any location. At the FRSC location, citizens can indicate their LG and INEC will derive their polling units for logistics purposes and also inform citizens their polling units.
However,if INEC wants to keep its own records because not everyone will get a license, citizens should be able to walk into the INEC office in the Local government and be able to register and be issued temporary voters cards ala my FRSC experience at any time. The merit of this method is that there would be no rush and pressure on citizens and the officials. 
 The electoral body has stated that  PVCs will be used to vote in the 2015 elections and this decision may disenfranchise three groups of people.
  • People who registered but their records were not captured when they checked their status with INEC whilst the organization has discontinued CVR
  • People like me who just registered and INEC is unlikely to produce our PVCs. In a speech on the 14th of January, the INEC Chairman reiterated the need to use PVCs because the card reader will prevent rigging though the House of Representatives has approved the use of Temporary Voters Cards
  • People who moved states and are unable to go to their previous states to pick up their PVCs and have to write to INEC and wait 30 days for a response.
The commendable and almost flawless conduct of elections and distribution of cards is Ekiti, Osun, Anambra and Edo where staggered elections held shows that the organization knows what to do. For an important election such as the one holding this February, the organization cannot afford any administrative lapses that will skew or mar the elections. They can start by simplifying processes. 


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