The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would today end the issuing of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to Nigerians. INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee Mr Festus Okoye had earlier said the deadline for the collection of PVCs was Feb. 8.
Presidential and National Assembly elections have been scheduled to hold on February 16 while gubernatorial and state assembly elections would hold on March 2. It would be recalled that INEC carried out Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) between April 27, 2017 and Aug. 31, 2018 during which a total of 14, 281,734 new voters were registered. Thereafter, the commission reportedly printed the PVCs of the new registrants and delivered them to the states.
These were thereafter devolved to the 8,809 Registration Areas/Wards from January 16 to 21 for collection throughout the week including Saturday and Sunday. After January 21, collection of PVCs was reverted to the commission’s local government offices and other designated centres which were determined by exigencies. “There will be no extension for the collection of PVCs after February 8. All uncollected PVCs will be retrieved and kept in a secured place until the general elections are over,” Okoye said.
INEC said from today, nobody will be given the PVC. It said the total population of voters in Nigeria has risen to over 80m. The commission said that in the spirit of transparency, it would give account of the number of PVCs collected and the balance from previous registrations. However, feelers across the country indicated that millions of Nigerians who registered could not get the PVCs for some reasons.
Even in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), many residents who registered in places like Life Camp, Wuse, Gwagwalada, Karimo, Kuje, Abaji among others have claimed that they visited their registration centres severally but could not get their PVCs. The complaint is the same in states like Bauchi, Plateau, Lagos, Ekiti, Edo, Sokoto, Benue, Taraba, Borno, Adamawa, Ondo among others. Some people are alleging that the PVCs have been “purchased” by politicians who want to use them to rig elections. Others believe that some ruling parties in some states have connived with INEC officials not to release the PVCs to areas that they would be disadvantaged, that is places where their opposition has upper hand.
This is despite claims by Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) during press conferences that the PVCs were ready for collection. During such press conferences, the RECs announced disturbing figures of uncollected PVCs. For instance, the REC in Benue, Nentawe Yilwatda, in his latest update at the time of this report, indicated that 420,038 PVCs were yet to be collected. The REC in Osun State, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje, confirmed that as at January 28, 2019, 1,259,733 PVCs (74.90 per cent) had been collected out of 1,681930 PVCs, leaving a balance of 422,197 PVCs (25.10 per cent) with INEC.
However, in Oyo State, out of the 2,934, 107 registered voters in the state, 2,933,306 have collected their PVCs, leaving only 801 cards uncollected, hence there is great improvement compared to that of 2015. We believe that all that can be done to facilitate the collection of PVCs has been done but that many prospective voters, for logistical or other reasons, failed to turn up to collect them.
INEC has said there will be no extension from today, which is informed by the need to tidy up matters and concentrate on other preparations with elections now only a week away. We urge voters who have not collected their PVCs to take advantage of the remaining hours and do so.
They should also avail themselves at polling centres on the day of the election because it is one thing to have the PVCs and it is an entirely different thing to go out and vote. However, a voter who failed to collect his PVC will not be able to vote in the election, which is a major minus in his civic responsibilities.