April 10, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
One of the aspirants for the flagbearer position of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) party, Alimamy Philip Koroma, commonly known as ‘Petito’, has noted that the ongoing voter and civil registration exercise has lots of challenges which the rural populace could not easily handle.
Petito, who was in Kambia district encouraging people to go out and register, last Monday addressed journalists at his residence in Mambolo town, where he noted that the attitude of National Electoral Commissions (NEC) staff towards the registrants was appalling.
“Most of them are in the habit of talking rudely to people that are coming to register, especially the aged. They don’t even know how to explain the questionnaire to the registrants, making the exercise cumbersome for the rural people,” he lamented.
He added that the design of the questionnaire posed serious challenge to people in rural communities.
He noted that registration officers were refusing to register people who fail to produce identity cards, and that they were also not honouring recommendations made by local authorities on behalf of registrants.
He explained that, “People were seemingly not prepared for all the questions that were asked by NEC staff. They demand for people to produce documents like birth certificates, identity cards, and the previous voter identity cards. Even when a local authority like Paramount Chief, councilor, etc, recommends an individual, the officials refuse to allow that person to register. All of these are ways to prevent people from exercising their civic rights.”
He acknowledged that NEC is an independent body that has the mandate to operate without interference, but noted that as a citizen, it was his right to raise concerns that have the potential to undermine the smooth running of the process.
He noted that the registration would not only allow one to vote in the forthcoming elections but would serve many purposes in the future.
Despite the challenges in the registration process, Petito said: “I have been moving from one village to another urging people to come out and register. The turnout has been encouraging because here I spend restless days and nights to go to villages and encourage people to register.”