Last Minute Rush: Heat Stroke Scare As Bayelsa Voters Hustle For PVC
Nigerians like fire brigade approach to things and it is playing out again, as the deadline of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the collection of Permanent Voter Card (PVC) approaches.
February 8 was the initial deadline set before it was shifted to 11.
In different States of the Federation, queues and rowdy environment are a common sight around designated collection centres.
They had failed to go for their PVCs early, but waited till deadline was near.
In Bayelsa State, the situation is not different, but the funny part of it is that the people defy the scotching sun, as they seek their cards.
Beaming its heat at over 36 Degrees Celsius, it was the kind that could cause heat stroke.
They had different reasons of being at the centres for their cards and this diverse reasons showed when Bounce News talked to some of them.
"Hardship don too much for my family so, l want to vote," said Beauty, a native of Zarama community, in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
By 8:29 a.m., when Bounce News arrived at Community Secondary School Igbogene, a small crowd had gathered in front of the Corps Members' Lodge used as the distribution centre.
Some person's sat on plastic chairs borrowed from a shop owner while others stood in clusters, murmuring. Commercial bike riders, popularly called 'Okada', transport people to and from the venue.
By 11:02 a.m., one of the staff, Mr Ebilayefa Kokori, arrived at the venue with two green bags containing the PVCs. Shortly after, two other staff of the electoral body, also arrived.
At the sight of the bags, the crowd quickly formed seven long queues tugging, pushing and abusing each other.
There were indications that most eligible voters might be disenfranchised, as a result of shortage of staff and lateness to work from lNEC staff as those who could not wait, left.
Mr Kokori told Bounce News that he was instructed not to distribute the cards without the presence of security officers for safety reasons.
"The two police officers assigned to us, must arrive before we give out cards.
"We have cards for ward 1 - 7 only and will close by 4:p.m," he said.
Facing the crowd, he shouted "Check your temporary cards now and if your ward is from 8 downwards go to your centre o!" he finalised.
Breastfeeding her baby, Beauty, said she was the first person to arrive at the venue.
"I went to Onopa office yesterday, they couldn't find my card and directed me here.
She had arrived at lgbogene just when they had closed for the day and was told to come back the next day.
She smiled at her baby, looked up and continued "Governor Dickson's public service reform left my husband jobless.
"I need my card to enable me vote for a new government and a better tomorrow for my family" she revealed.
At Onopa distribution centre, a staff who was sweating profusely, but would not want his name mentioned, told Bounce News that he has been feeling dizzy since morning but dare not voice it out.
"Insufficient staff is one of our major challenge during this period.
"My colleagues are not here now. So, l have been searching from one cartoon to another and issuing cards alone since morning" he complained.
Many people have made fruitless efforts transporting to and fro distribution centres which had constantly been under lock and keys without explanation or direction as to where to go to for collection.
However, when a young man who had his earphones on, happily announced that the date for collection had been extended to February 11, some persons were seen smiling as they embraced each other.
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