Daily Trust Saturday findings indicate that a good number of the voting population will not be able to cast its vote on account of certain reasons; some accidental, others deliberate.
First are the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), armed forces, police, Directorate of State Services (DSS), immigration and Civil Defence who are mandated to superintend the electoral process.
Also not voting are those engaged as ad hoc staff by INEC, such as professors and lecturers, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), as well as some students.
For instance, Dr. David Ajayi, a lecturer in the Department of History, University of Ibadan (UI), will not vote because he expects to work for INEC as a Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO).
Dr. Ajayi said, “Although I have my PVC, I won’t vote because I am going to work as one of the SPOs in next week’s elections.
“I wish I could vote, but I can’t because working as an ad hoc staff for INEC makes one an automatic neutral participant in the process; at least in the meantime.”
Besides, journalists, media professionals and election observers who will be actively involved in the coverage of the polls will not vote. In this category are also health workers and first aid persnnel.
Furthermore, other Nigerians will not be able to vote because they could not collect their PVCs or had relocated from areas they registered and could not transfer their PVCs to their current locations.
Shola Oyeyipo is an Abuja-based senior political reporter with ThisDay Newspaper who will not vote given his professional duty as a reporter.
Beyond that, Shola, who relocated from Lagos to Abuja, confided in Daily Trust Saturday that, “I won’t vote because I couldn’t get my PVC. It was so difficult in Lagos, and at a point, we were even required to pay like N200 or N500, even with that, it was very difficult. It is easier to obtain an ATM card than the PVC.
“But even if I had succeeded, I don’t think I will vote because I am now in Abuja and will be monitoring the elections,” he said.
There are also university students who registered on various campuses but are currently constrained by the ongoing ASUU strike. The same applies to some business persons involved in frequent travel.
Emmanuel Nnanna is a 500-level student of Law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), who registered at the Enugu Campus but has since relocated to his home town, Abakaliki, as a result of the ASUU strike.
Nnanna said, “How can I vote when my PVC is in Enugu? I registered at UNN Enugu Campus (UNEC) and I am now at home here in Abakaliki. But I will be working as an agent for one of the political parties.”
Some Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) with PVCs will not be able to vote, especially in some states in the North.
This is given the hunger protests by some of them at the Teachers’ Village IDP Camp, Maiduguri, on February 5, 2019.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on IDPs, Refugees and North East Initiative, Sani Zoro (APC, Jigawa), has advised INEC to allow the IDPs to vote wherever they find themselves instead of being restricted to vote in their original polling units.
Hon. Zoro said, “We wish to notify INEC of the latest displacement situation in parts of Borno and Adamawa, with overcrowded IDP camps that have swelled by 300,000, while over 32,000 have crossed over to Cameroon because of the recent escalation of conflicts in the region.”
Apart from the IDPs, a some Nigerians are, however, abstaining from voting for personal reasons, such as the call for boycott of the exercise in the South East by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, loss of confidence in Nigerian politicians and the electoral process, indecision, voter apathy, among others.
A bus driver resident in Onitsha, Anambra State, Mr. Sunday Igwe, told our reporter on phone that neither he nor any of his family members would vote because he was afraid there might be skirmishes between IPOB and the police.
Meanwhile, a Lagosian who spoke to Daily Trust Saturday on condition of anonymity, said he would not be voting simply because, “Nigeria is a corrupt state. Nigeria as a corrupt state can never see me be a party to any of its policies. I don’t support a corrupt system, so I am not voting.”
An international businessman from the South East, Mr. Chukwuma Nwafor, blamed his inability to vote to a scheduled international business engagement, and more importantly, to his lack of a PVC, but could not, however, elaborate on whether he registered.
Mr. Nwafor said, “The thing is that I am travelling out of Africa for business next week by the Grace of God. Besides, I cannot vote without a PVC; that’s the problem. So, God bless Nigeria.”
Blessing is an Abuja-based trader who said she would not be voting because she had lost confidence in politicians, and that “all politicians are the same.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, UNN, Professor Nnanyelugo Okoro, said coming out en masse to vote remained the only option to enthrone responsible leadership in the country.
Prof. Okoro dismissed IPOB’s call for a boycott of the exercise in the South East as a “propaganda technique”, and therefore, urged Nigerians to ensure they elected credible people as a critical step towards attaining good governance in Nigeria.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, the IPOB threat is a propaganda technique to discourage people from voting. But I think apart from people engaged in some form of essential duties, others should go out to exercise their franchise. Your vote is your power to put in place good governance.
“Go out and use your PVC wisely by voting your conscience. Everybody now knows we need change that is human-focused and development-oriented. We, therefore, have to make that change happen.”