10 Sep 21st-century scam! PVC, NIN card and other registrations
Four accounts describe the inefficient methods still being used nationwide to achieve important government programmes.
Scenario 1: Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) registration
“Good morning, sir,” said Ola.
“Good morning,” replied the man we met at the front desk on the premises of Oke-Ira Primary School, Ogba, Lagos. “What do you want?” he added.
“I’m here for PVC registration. What’s the procedure?” Ola ventured to ask.
“PVC? They’ve moved. Didn’t you know?” My sister and I looked at each other, then at the man, as though he had just spoken Spanish. “Moved?” we asked ourselves. How could they have moved? Why didn’t anyone tell us?”
The man added, “They are at Ojodu Primary School now.” He stared belligerently at us as though it was public knowledge and we were stupid for not knowing.
“Perfect,” we thought, disgusted at the merry-go-round that the bid to register for the PVC was turning into. This was our second port of call in the course of this particular registration. The first had taken us to the Kosofe LGA office on Ikosi Road, near Ketu, quite early in the morning of that day. There, we were informed that such an exercise was not being carried out.
So, after the slow journey to Oke-Ira from Kosofe LGA, to start our PVC registration, we found out that the registration centre had been moved. Again. Swallowing our displeasure, we left Oke-Ira for Ojodu, thinking that, ‘the earlier the better”. On reaching Ojodu Primary School, we met not less than 120 people on the queue. Some of the people had become tired of queueing and found places to make themselves comfortable. The Lagos State officials who were supposed to be attending to them, of course, were taking their sweet time. After all, they had a lot of it, didn’t they? I thought 120 people on a queue was ridiculous until I realized that two people, yes only two people, were supposed to be attending to them all! It was at that point I realized that midnight was going to meet us in that place should we decide to stay. It was 11:40 am. We later found out that some of the people there had come as early as 7:00 am.
Scenario 2: 2018 FGN scholarship interviews
Dateline: February 2018
Event: Federal Government of Nigeria 2017 Scholarships interviews
Modus Operandi: Interviews to be held in the JAMB zonal offices nationwide.
Candidates were assigned to zonal centres based on their states of origin.
Interview date was first postponed by a few days, then further postponed by a week. The last postponement was a day before the interviews were to start nationwide, so those who were posted to places that would take up to 24-hour journeys had already left their locations and were on the long distance trip before realizing that the interviews had been postponed again. So they stayed in those locations for a whole week before the interview screenings began.
Screening later kicked off two days after the stated screening dates. Interviews did not kick off until another two days later, with the process going on very slowly till very late in the night for another 2 days. Then the interviews commenced.
The final day, interviews were hurriedly packaged throughout the night till early morning when the officials who were posted from different centres realized the government would not further extend their allowances till the following week.
Some candidates spent more than two weeks on the sham that was scholarship interview and achieved nothing.
Scenario 3: National ID card registration
The applicant had filled the form online, thinking to save herself some of the legwork and frequent trips to the agency’s offices.
The first day she presented herself in the office, she was informed that the person who should attend to her had closed the files for the day.
Almost two weeks later, when she returned, she was told she ought to have been in the office since 6 a.m if she wanted to be attended to.
The third and last time she came there, she was informed that day was only for those who came to collect the ready ID card.
Needless to say, this prospect gave up. The simple reason was: how long would she leave her office to go pursuing something that was just simply a time-wasting endeavor?
Scenario 4: This is a continuation of scenario 1
After the PVC registration sham experienced at Ojodu Primary School in Lagos, we eventually had the opportunity to register for it in Yola, Adamawa State.
The process took less than two hours, compared to the four hours people had spent queueing in Lagos with no results.
Interestingly, when it was my turn for the fingerprint capture, I realized why the process took the one and a half hours it did. The woman who was typing my name into the database was doing it with one hand, and no, she wasn’t one-handed, she had two hands. What was the other hand doing? Absolutely nothing. She was typing with one hand, an indication that she wasn’t computer literate. Imagine typing I-H-E-C-H-U-K-W-U-M-E-R-E with one hand???
Questions to ask:
- When will Nigeria start using efficient and time-preserving methods for public service database collections?
- When will we start actually planning and organizing programmes, instead of the last-minute ‘digba-digba’ we’ve always liked?
- When will we realize the need for all public servants to be computer literate?
- Why can’t voting be done online, as it’s done in other countries?
1. Queueing under a canopy to register for PVCs is a No-No in 2018. Of course, the canopy will only take a few people, while the majority will hang around, looking for somewhere to sit and wait.
2. Since the process involved filling an electronic form, why didn’t INEC let Nigerians register online? Then people are scheduled to present themselves for the biometric capture part at a predetermined date?
3. Registration and scheduling for the FGN scholarships should take into account candidates’ locations, rather than the state of origin. It should be well planned, to foreclose repeated postponements. Proper arrangements should have been made. Mock interviews and rehearsals should be conducted prior to the programme to help detect problem areas.
4. There’s a lot that Nigeria needs to take to the web, especially registrations of all kinds. Electronic form filing and submission is one of the basics of web development. This means getting the required infrastructure to handle the projected traffic, by investing money in strong servers.
5. Better still, let the private sector handle it. Shortlist and approve private companies to register the people and organize them into batches for the capturing and finalization process. Give them a deadline and a budget.
Some of us had the opportunity to monitor the progress of the United States election on TV! The 2016 US elections were televised! I’m not asking Nigeria to televise our elections (I mean it would be easier for me to fly a Boeing 737 plane), but it is an embarrassment that a country that is supposed to be developing, cannot take something as fundamental as voter registration and national identity card registration to the web.
This is another reason why it would save the country and its citizens a great amount of time, to make it available for Nigerians to register for their PVCs online. We are in the information age; the developed countries are developed because they are taking advantage of the leading technology in the world. For Nigeria to get there, we must do the needful.
with additional reporting.