Nigeria: Ekiti State Calls for Extension of Voters Registration Exercise
By RAZAQ BAMIDELE
Ekiti State Government has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the duration of the voters registration exercise currently on-going in the State. The State Head of Service, Dr. Olugbenga Faseluka made the call while going round the local government areas in the State to monitor the exercise at the weekend.
Describing the turnout of the people as impressive, Dr. Faseluka noted that the time frame for the exercise would be grossly inadequate to accommodate all eligible voters that were waiting to be captured.
According to him, it took an average of seven minutes to register one voter which led to a huge number of spill-over of people in line at the close of the exercise each day, adding that it would have been more conducive if the exercise had been extended till 5pm daily.
Faseluka said that the State Government would follow up on the complaints and requests of stakeholders particularly on the creation of additional polling units in some areas in the State.
Dr. Faseluka, who stressed that the sensitisation/monitoring programme was apolitical, emphasised that the focus was to secure the future of Ekiti as an entity, adding that the exercise was to allow those that relocated to the State to transfer their voters’ cards while damaged cards could be replaced and an opportunity for those that were hitherto underage to register.
The State Governor, Chief Ayo Fayose had declared Friday a work free day for workers in the State and directed senior civil servants to mobilise and monitor the exercise in their respective localities towards ensuring that as many eligible people as possible partake in
Government’s high-powered teams consisting of Executive Secretaries, General Managers of corporations, Directors, Deputy Directors and led by Permanent Secretaries were deployed to each of the 16 Local Government Areas in the State.
At Ikere Ekiti, both the traditional ruler of the town, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba Adejimi Adu and the Council Chairman, Hon. Aderemi Ayeni strongly appealed for the establishment of more polling units in the council area to forestall disenfranchisement of a large population
residing at the Obasanjo Estate, Shasha Market and other settlements along the Ikere-Ado road who had to travel several kilometres to take part in the continuous voters’ registration exercise.
The Ogoga also called for additional personnel and capturing machines at the Eleyo area and St. Pius Primary School where he noted that the massive turnout of eligible voters for the exercise virtually overwhelmed the INEC staff at the centres.
Similarly, at Igbara-Odo, the Arakaja of Igbara-Odo, Oba Edward Jayeola who said that the community had earlier organised a house to house sensitisation on the need for unregistered eligible voters to do so before the end of the exercise, however called for additional
registration machines to ease the process and allow all interested eligible voters to register within the specified time frame.
He noted that two wards in the community have the highest number of polling units in the country and should therefore be duly considered.
Religious leaders were not left out of the sensitisation programme as the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Efon Alaaye, Venerable Israel Olagunju who received the government’s team led by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Kola Ajumobi to the community, assured of the continued support CAN for efforts to ensure the registration of all eligible voters in the State.
Declaring that ownership of the permanent voter’s card may be adopted as a criterion for partaking in the Holy Communion, Venerable Olagunju said that Christians must work out their prayers by performing their civic responsibilities in line with Bible injunction that “faith
without works is dead”.
The Chief Imam of the Ansar-ud-Deen Central Mosque, Iye Ekiti, Alhaji Babadele Abdulsalam corroborated the call for all eligible voters to obtain their permanent voter’s cards in order to be able to voice their opinions and vote for what they believe in.
Alhaji Abdulsalam stressed that voting rights also allow the electorate to hold elected officials accountable for their behaviour while in office as well as prevent minority from dictating the policies of a majority.
Low turnout recorded in few areas was attributed to the registration of most of the people and the massive turnout recorded during the last continuous voters registration exercise in the areas.
At Okemesi Ward 10, the INEC official in charge of the constituency, Mrs. Gbadebo Omobolanle confirmed the low turnout which she promptly attributed to the vast turnout during the last voters registration exercise.
The team led by the Permanent Secretary in the Civil Service Commission, Mr. Agbelusi Ale that monitored the exercise in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area noted that all suspected underage people were requested to produce their birth certificates before registration to ensure that only eligible voters were registered.