Thousands of Ondo state residents on Tuesday, besieged various local government areas in the State to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVC), complaining the way the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) handled the distribution of the PVCs.
The State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, had last weekend announced Tuesday, 24th January as a work-free for government workers in the state to enable them collect their PVCs.
At most of the local government areas visited by our correspondent, many residents who are yet to get their PVC storm INEC distribution points with the hope of meeting INEC ad-hoc staff giving out cards at the centers.
However, many of the registrants who visited the centers expressed disappointment over the arrangement put in place by the INEC, saying there was no adequate provision for them to collect their PVC.
Speaking, a septuagenarian, Mrs Musilimat Akande, who was at St. Peters Primary School for her PVC, said she is saddened to have spent over seven hundred naira to the collection point and did not meet anyone.
She said government’s declaration of a holiday for PVC collection was her motivation for coming not knowing it would be in vain as INEC has shifted the collection to local government areas.
Akande explained that she had previously visited the center thrice and returned home without the PVC, after queuing for a long time with no hope in sight.
Also, Mrs Foluso Ogunleye, a civil servant who visited the centre with some of her colleagues expressed displeasure over the absence of INEC staff at the collection point without prior notice.
The situation wasn’t different at Methodist Primary School, Gbogi as there was no INEC staff on sight to attend to the people there to collect their PVCs.
She said, “INEC needs to do more in public enlightenment to ensure that people know whatever the commission is doing and where to go to”.
“Imagine coming here for the third time at 76 years of age because I want to collect my PVC, but for INEC to move the collection away from here without informing us To me, this is not how to do things, there should be be better arrangement, they should have informed us that collection has been moved to the local government office”.
At the INEC office at Oda road, most people who visited the collection points lamented that they might not be able to leave office to visit the center again after the public holiday declared by the state government.
However, Mr. Femi Bosede who drove his wife and daughter to the INEC office to collect their PVCs commended INEC staff at the centre for attending promptly to people who have special needs.
Bosede said; “though the crowd is much, the way they (the INEC staff) are attending to pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people with disabilities and elderly people must be commended as this eases the stress the people would have experienced”.
But Kemisola Adeyemi and Sunday Adebisi complained bitterly about the number of hours they have spent in the sun and said “I have been here for over two hours and must go back to work as soon as possible.
“How will I spend the whole day here and still not get my PVC? Imagine the number of productive hours I am spending in the sun just because I want to collect my PVC”.
Head of INEC’s voter education, publicity, gender and civil society organisations in the state, Mrs Olufunmike Segun-Osifeso, while responding to the allegations said the commission engages in mass sensitisation to ensure that residents are carried along in everything the commission does.
Osifeso said; “we made so many announcements on radio, television and the social media when we extended it by a week telling people that collection at the ward level will end by 22nd January”.
“I have a feeling that the massive turnout today is as a result of the holiday declared by the governor. As at last week, we had a little above three hundred thousand cards yet to be collected but the number has reduced drastically as visit to all our local government offices revealed massive turnouts today.
“It is our belief that with the turnout, the cards that will be left before elections will be very few. People are really coming out to get their cards and we are happy about it.
“The problem with our people is that they like doing things at rush hour. They still have till Sunday to collect their cards and we have enough staff to attend to all of them, just as we reinforced the number of staff attending to them when we saw the rush this morning.”