As deadline for collection of Permanent Voters Cards draws closer, the National Association of Seadogs in Cross River State, Thursday, defied heavy downpour to embark on a march to sensitise citizens on the imperative of registering for and collecting theirs voters’ cards before the window is shut.
At least 45 members of the group, who were mainly of the Calabar South-Akpabuyo-Bakassi chapter, marched through Mary Slessor Avenue up to the popular Watt market through the Etim Edem Park to speak to traders, buyers and motorists on the need to partake in the exercise so as not to be disenfranchised during the 2019 general elections.
The awareness campaign, which also took seadogs to the Mbukpa market in Calabar South, saw traders complaining about the difficulties they encountered in their various attempts at registering to get PVC. The march was in line with the ongoing NAS’s Our-Votes-Count campaign on PVC registration and collection
Speaking to our reporter, an electronics dealer in Watt market, Emmanuel Nonso, said the crowd at the only registration centre in Calabar South had discouraged a lot of eligible citizens from registering.
“I have gone to that only centre of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Calabar South twice and was frustrated when I saw the massive crowd seeking to register. I wish INEC had more centres scattered around the LGA. Again, most people are not aware that the registration process is still ongoing, so, the government need to step up the awareness campaign,” Nonso said.
Another trader at Mbukpa Market, Beatrice Effiong, lamented that the process of registration at the centre is slow, adding that with the slow pace, it might not be possible to capture all eligible citizens before the August 31 deadline elapses.
Effiong added that on one of her failed attempts, she discovered that the computer registration machines in the centre were faulty, and therefore, urged INEC to extend the date further or open more centres to fasten the registration processes.
“If the centres are brought close to the people, it will make it easier. Otherwise, the slow process of registration and faulty machines is enough to discourage a trader who hardly have time to spare during the day,” Effiong said.
Meanwhile, Regional Vice-President of NAS in charge of Cross River, Benue and Nasarawa states, Mr. Fabian Avoh, said the essence of the awareness campaign is to sensitise the citizens to carry out their civic duties.
He urged the citizens not to remain apolitical in the present democratic dispensation, adding that they must have a say by ensuring they vote in the 2019 general elections.
Also, the chapter Coordinator of NAS in Calabar South-Akpabuyo-Bakassi, Mr. Ekong Otu, said the awareness march was anchored on humanistic ideals matrix of the organisation.
He called on Cross Riverians to ensure that they cast their votes for candidates of their choice in the forthcoming general elections.