INEC’s Voter Registration Exercise 2011

The INEC voter registration has now entered its second and final week.

When, on the first day of the registration, Tobi Odetola, a student at the University of Lagos, sent me a message lamenting his inability to register, I told him to send me a short account. He did:

My Voters Registration Experience: Saturday January 15, 2011

After two futile trips by a friend to confirm the commencement of the registration exercise, we left home at about 11 am for the nearest centre. We met about a dozen people -one of whom told us that the INEC adhoc staff just arrived minutes earlier – waiting to be registered. However, the process could not begin because there was no cable to connect the printer to the portable electricity source. Amidst fast-rising impatience and the usual government bashing, one INEC official went in search of a substitute cable. Phone calls were made to nearby centres but none brought good report. It was either similar cases of missing cables or scanner issues to even no DDCs at all.

Needless to say that the INEC dude returned empty handed. A decision was made that registered people would return on Sunday to collect their slips. However, the scanner seemed operating at a different frequency as several people tried in vain to have their finger prints taken.

I must point out that just once did the Police come around. With only the usual gun wielding and a cursory look at proceeding, they seemed just happy to take their leave.

Angry and thirsty, I left for home along with several disappointed people at about 3 pm.

In all, INEC seems ill-prepared and the officials, poorly trained with little technical expertise if any. I hope today’s events are not prognostic of what is to come.

Second Time Out at the Voters Registration Centre: Sunday January 16, 2011

After the disappointment of Saturday, my friends and I called the bluff of the chilly harmattan winds as we made our way to the voters registration centre. Our hopes of registering which were as inflated as the Zimbabwe[an] economy were’partially’ dashed as pockets of despondent people could be seen from a mile.

However, as the confirmed suckers for hope that we Nigerians are, we went all the way. Oops!  The INEC adhoc staff still had not found a way to tune the fingerprint scannerto their frequency. Therefore, no single person could be registered at the centre for the second day running.I’ve since left for school but hope that the issues will have been resolved when I return at the weekend.

And then, finally, on Saturday the 22nd of January, I got a message from Tobi:

I’ve finally registered at the 3rd time of asking.Although,I had to wait for about 4 hours. April ’11… can’t wait!

***

So, there it is! It’s a frustrating experience no doubt. INEC has managed to make a technical and logistical nightmare (here, here,here, and here) out of it – this is Nigeria, isn’t it? – but the determination of Nigerians to register appears to be triumphing. People are putting up photos of their cards on Facebook and Twitter, as though displaying the spoils of war. Indeed, it has been ‘war’…

From this PUNCH story, it is clear that for some Nigerians, the registration is ‘business-as-usual’…

NEXT is reporting that INEC is considering an extension of the two-week registration period. The registration was meant to end on Saturday January 29.

You can read more about the personal experiences of Nigerians, in real-time, here

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