From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
There was a large turnout of voters, including the physically-challenged persons at Karonmajigi Primary School, Polling Unit 146, under the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), although the few card readers available malfunctioned.
The inefficient devices slowed the entire accreditation and voting process, detaining anxious voters in long queues, totally frustrated.
While the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) battled to sort out the glitches, angry voters who said they could no longer endure the scorching sun left angrily without voting. They lamented that the entire mess was a calculated plan to disenfranchise them; even as the INEC officials pleaded with them to exercise patience.
When DailySun visited the center at about 8:30 am, the physically-challenged voters were already on ground, converging in small pockets; while INEC officials hurriedly set up the place for the business of the day.
At about 2 pm, Daily Sun noticed that over half of the crowd was yet to vote and tension was beginning to rise as brawls occurred every now and then.
The physically-challenged were not left out in the fisticuffs, as they struggled for special consideration to vote first while the Police, Nigeria Civil Defense Corps (NCDC) and other forces tried frantically to control the crowd.
Some voters who spoke to Daily Sun expressed dissatisfaction with the entire voting arrangement.
Voters explained their motivation for coming out to vote in mass.
Grace Amadi said: “I am not happy at all with the way the election is being done. I have been here since 9 am. This is 2 pm already and I am yet to vote. I came with my sister and she has already left angrily because of how slow the queue is. I myself will soon leave because I have not eaten since morning.
Another voter Aisha Kabiru said; “I have been standing under this hot sun for hours now and the queue is not even moving. What annoys me most is I noticed how some people are working with the official law enforcement agents to jump the queue and sneak people in. Once I get tired of waiting, I will go home.
Hadiza Abdullahi, a physically-challenged woman, said she was driven to vote by her desire for a better government that would ease her burden.
“Well, we came out to vote because we believe it is also our right as a people. We also want a good government that will take up some of the responsibilities off our shoulders and ease our burden. Some of us have up to seven children and we wish for them to go to school. We are not happy to be beggars. We wish to own a business or have one skill or the other and earn money to take care of ourselves and families,” she said.
Explaining the situation, one of the INEC officials who declined to give his name said that inefficiency of the card reader was slowing the process. He said the card readers were failing to capture a lot of people.
He, however, disclosed that a directive had been given to continue the exercise manually if the problem persisted.
Another official who simply identified himself as Nasir said another problem was the issue of splitting of voting units which was confusing voters.
According to Nasir, while other voting units have few or no voters attached to them, only one polling unit has almost a Thousand registered voters under it.
“As you can see, some polling units are free and empty in this Ward. That is because now you have to vote where you registered and some units are new so people do not really know about them. The popular one is the one that has so many crowds that you are seeing. But we hope by the next election it will have been decongested since they would already be aware of the other units,” he said.