By Nick Chibunna
Clues to the reasons behind the abandonment of permanent voters’ cards in Imo State, despite clarion calls on voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to collect them, emerged at the weekend.
Our reporter who went round town to unravel the cause of the growing voter apathy discovered that anger, poverty, hunger, frustration and lack of confidence in the state of affairs in the country have been responsible for the situation.
An Owerri-based business man, and an airport taxi operator who would not like his name in print said that although he had registered and collected his Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), the excruciating economic situation in the state had reduced an average Imo man to a hewer of wood and drawer of water, as many have lost their means of livelihood due to policy summersaults of government.
He also faulted the present arrangement whereby the exercise takes place in the local government headquarters, saying that this method would disenfranchise many eligible voters who could not afford the high cost of transport fare to and from their respective local government headquarters.
Also speaking to Christian Voice, an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain and former special assistant on Protocol during the administration of late Chief Evan Enwerem, Hon. John Duruji said that the main cause of apathy among Imo electorate was hunger and frustration.
According to him, the almost seven years of this present government had been charaterised with impunity and executive lawlessness, resulting untold hardship among the citizenry.
He, however, pleaded with eligible voters in Imo State to take courage and register in the present exercise, since it is the only means to change a bad government.
Hon. Duruji who is also rooting for Senator Ifeanyichukwu Ararume to occupy Douglas House comes 2019, said that when good people take over power in the state, the tears of the people would be wiped away.
The party chieftain also made case for the decentralization of the registration exercise to enable more people to participate, adding that the people’s apathy was hinged on the fears that the exercise would enthrone another set of incompetence persons.
Christian Voice checks, however, revealed there have been appreciable improvement of the exercise in some local government areas in the state.
Local government areas like Owerri Municipal, Owerri North, Owerri West, Aboh Mbaise, Mbaitoli, Ikeduru are among the few where registration had greatly improved.
At Ikeduru Local government Area, the INEC Electoral Officer, Mrs. Ijeoma Peter-Mary Nwosu told Christian Voice that there have been a remarkable improvement in the first quarter of 2018 as INEC had registered over eight thousand voters in the area.
On the voters’ apathy, Mrs. Nwosu said that following the directive of the state resident electoral commissioner, Prof. Francis Ezeonu, her office had embarked on community sensitization through town hall meetings and electoral awareness.
She called on the traditional rulers, opinion leaders, President-Generals of various autonomous communities, political parties and their agents to join hands with INEC to ensure a smooth exercise by mobilizing their subjects and supporters.
On the calls for the decentralization of the exercise, Mrs. Nwosu said that INEC was giving it a serious consideration, but quick to add that mobile registration unit had been provided to reach out to some communities in the remote areas.
On those who lost their PVC and who have reported for replacement and corrections, Mrs. Nwosu said that all permanent voters’ card would be ready before December 2018.