PVC: Patigi residents pay N100 to register, group alleges
By Ahmed 'Lateef and Onyemachi Emmanuel
A group, Community Outreach Advocacy, Capacity Building and Health (COACH) has decried the inability of many residents of Patigi, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State to register for Permanent Voter Card (PVC) in the ongoing continuous voter registration being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The group alleged that interested citizens had to part with N100 before they can be able to register in the exercise.
Founder of COACH, Aisha Ahman Pategi, said in an exclusive interview with Journalists in Patigi that the potential voters were paying the sum to enable those in charge buy diesel to power generator.
Aisha Ahman Pategi regretted a situation where people in the community were being made to pay a certain fee before they could perform their civic responsibility, the practice, which she said, was alien in other areas.
The founder of community outreach group stated that she had met with relevant stakeholders on the need to address the anomaly to avoid people being disenfranchised.
Aisha Ahman Pategi also faulted claims that Kwara North Senatorial District has low population, saying that the population of Patigi alone was more than 500,000.
She said, "The reason why we came up with this was when I came back from outside the country to register for my PVC. When I got here, what I saw really baffled me. Actually, it was quite disturbing, because the INEC office was not what I expected. People were lined up and they were paying N100 to register. Apparently, they have to pay N100 for diesel. That is disturbing!
"By the time I started asking the youths, everybody was saying we are going with (President Muhammadu) Buhari. They said they were tried,†that there are a lot of issues going on and everything. And I could see it, there is so much anger, and I said this is not right. Everybody in Nigeria has a right, just the way it is in Abuja where you don't have to pay N100, it should be the same way in every community in Nigeria.
"So, when I went back to Abuja, I spoke to a few of our leaders in APC essentially and the nation. I said this is what is going on, this is what I found, and obviously this is the time for me to come back home and see how I can impact, especially if I'm going to start, I need to start with my community,† because for a long time, we haven't been here. My family is actually the oldest political family in Kwara. A lot of developments that had happened even in Ilorin was actually brought by my Dad.
"But because most of us have not paid much (attention) to politics or leadership and all that, the only person we have is Aliyu Ahman Pategi and one person can't make that much impact, and everybody is representing their own people. I started to realise there is this thing going about the Kwara North wanting the gubernatorial ticket this time around, because it is being almost 20 years we haven't have that.
"One of the arguments is people from Kwara North are not that many. So, they are not making that much impact even when it comes to election. I said that is not true. Because even just Patigi alone, they said we are just 250,000. That is not possible. I know the population of Patigi is even more 500,000. I started doing my research and I discovered that a lot of people don't actually register and a lot of people don't even vote, and also a lot of people that even registered don't even go back to take their PVC. They said what is the point, they go out, they vote, they have to even pay N100 to register and at the end of it all, their are voices are not counting. And that is why I started community outreach so that we would make sure that this time their voices are heard and the impact actually is felt, especially in Kwara North as a whole.
"What disturbed me as well is when I Iooked at all the numbers of 2015 elections, what I discovered was the total vote for Kwara was about 400,000 and in writing, they said the population of Kwara is 2.3million. So, you are talking about less than 20 percent of the population. If you break it down, how many are kids really at the end of it all. We should definitely have more than at least 70 percent that are adults at this point, and this was 2015. Obviously, the population has increased now.
"So, I think that we need to understand that we need to get people to register but at the same time, people that actually take offices, they get overwhelmed. We understand that. If you want people to vote for you, you have to make sure that they feel your impact, because that is the responsibility you have taken. And as a leader, you can't do it all by yourself, you need to set up committees and delegate responsibilities and follow up also because that is the wisdom behind leadership. A leader can't do it all. President Buhari can't do it all but he has to make sure that the people in his cabinet can be held responsible for anything that happens, because if the country does well, he does well. If the country doesn't, then at the end, it falls back to him.
"Because he cannot be here right now. He can't be everywhere. But the important thing is even God that has created us, when you look at it, that's the essence of each and everyone of us. It is God that evolves the way he wills. And if we decide that we are ready to serve God, because that is what public service is all about. I decided that I'm ready to serve my God, I'm ready to do it through public service, through community outreach, to make sure that when I start this programme, which is making sure that we rally as many people as possible to register for PVC. At the same time, people that have registered to have their data, because I†tell you one thing, data is actually more profitable to gain than gold and oil combined. Anybody who has complete data, you have it all. And make sure what you promised, you are able to deliver".