PVC: Seadogs increase awareness on registration

PVC: Seadogs increase awareness on registration as exercise ends today
Nigerians with hopes of casting their votes in the 2019 general elections have up to the end of close of work today (Friday, August 31st 2018) to register for their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) if they have not done so already, according to the deadline given by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Consequently, the Mainland chapter in conjunction with Netherlands chapter of National Association of Seadogs (NAS) also known as Pyrates Confraternity, defied the rain to carry out their citizen’s summit campaign on Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), last Saturday.
Members of the chapter which comprises Lagos West and Lagos Central senatorial zones, trooped out in their large numbers to sensitize the public on the importance of participation in the on-going voters’ registration exercise.


A member of NAS (in white shirt) speaks with some residents of Lagos on the need for voter registration

The enlightenment program was carried out simultaneously in all the units of National Association of Seadogs within the senatorial zone. Members of the Association distributed fliers to residents of Yaba, Surulere and Festac Town and spoke with them through one-on-one contact and the public address system. The main message of the campaign was: “Get your PVC“.

That campaign was carried out in densely populated areas like markets, bus stops, public places and streets.
During the campaign, members of the public complained that no matter how early they try to get to the registration venues, they meet crowds that are overwhelming and discouraging.
Some narrated that they have been to the venues more than five times without getting registered, stressing that the most discouraging aspect of the entire process was that political parties and other influential citizens send persons who receive preferential attention from officials of INEC, ahead of those on long queues.

Others accused INEC officials of lackadaisical attitude to work, stating that the officials resume registration very late and close quite early.
They also alleged that INEC officials collect between 2,000 and 5,000 naira to get people registered.
Due to such inconsistencies, members of the public reached during the campaign appealed that the closing date for voter registration should be extended or left open to continue, as stipulated by the electoral act. They added that if the exercise ends on August 31st 2018, a lot of citizens would be disenfranchised from the 2019 general election.


A member of NAS (in red cap) distributes fliers to commuters, during the campaign

Speaking on the outcome of the campaign, the President of Mainland chapter of National Association of Seadogs, Charles Nagudia, said in an interview that the enlightenment exercise has enabled people to speak up. He promised that public complaints will be collated and sent to INEC as feedback for further decisions on voter registration.

It will be recalled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) initially fixed August 17, 2018 as the closing date for voters’ registration exercise. That 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.
Furthermore, critics of that deadline argued that if INEC closes the registration exercise, the Commission will be without any basic functions thereafter.


Charles Nagudia,President of Mainland Chapter of NAS, distributing fliers to some customers of a road side eatery in Lagos

But the Commission countered that they will need sufficient time to collate and update voters’ records before the election proper. The Commission has cited section 9 (5) of the same Electoral Act which states 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 today (August 31, 2018). Despite this, members of  the public are still dissatisfied, owing to the challenges that have arisen from 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.

Indeed, the Continuous Voter Registration exercise should be “continuous”.

Sponsored by the Mainland Chapter in conjunction with the Netherlands chapter of NAS

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