Taking advantage of the two-day public holidays declared by the Abia State Government for the purpose, hordes of prospective voters on Monday thronged the Adelabu Street office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Umuahia, the state capital, South-Eastern Nigeria, to collect their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs).
The Abia State Government had declared Monday, January 24, 2023, and Tuesday, January 24, 2023, public holidays to enable workers collect their PVCs ahead of the 2023 General Elections.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent who monitored the exercise reports that while many stood in the queue under the scorching sun, many others took refuge under shades at the office complex.
Others also clustered around the different points of distribution of the cards, resulting in occasional pushing, shoving and shouting.
The INEC officials had hectic time trying to sort and distribute the cards.
Some of the electorate narrated their experiences at the venue to NAN.
Mr. Eugene Egerue said he arrived at the office around 7:30 AM, saying that he had not voted all his life but was determined to vote in the upcoming polls.
Egerue said: “I chose not to go to my shop today so I came very early, and I will not leave until I collect my card.
“The crowd is too much, and it is quite frustrating, but I have already sacrificed today for it.”
Also, Mrs. Gloria Maduekwe expressed sadness that she was not able to get hers, in spite waiting for hours.
According to her, this is my second time of coming to this place today, but they have not been able to find my card.
A visibly excited lady, who identified herself simply as Mary, was seen displaying her PVC joyously.
“I got my card, and I must thank INEC workers for their efforts, especially in managing this large crowd,” Mary said.
The Electoral Officer in-charge of Umuahia North Local Government Area, Mrs. Joan Onyeabo, explained that the collection centres were increased from 12 to 15 for the 12 wards in the area in order to accommodate the large population.
Onyeabo said that the commission put necessary crowd control measures in place to ensure orderliness.
She said, “We are prepared for the crowd.
“We started by 8:30 AM and we cannot close until we finish attending to all these people here.
“Our people like last minute rush and you can see that today, in spite of our appeals to them to come early and collect their PVCs.
“We have finished PVC distribution at the ward level, which lasted from January 6 to January 22.
“We are now at the local government level until January 29.”
She appealed to those who had yet to collect theirs to be calm and patient.
Onyeabo said that INEC was committed to ensure that every registrant got their cards.
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