Getting the PVC:The Good The Bad and the Ugly
As the 2023 election draws near, the need to get PVC by most Nigerians has become apparent. Recently, news hit the media waves that the National Electoral Commission (INEC) faced an upsurge unlike anything they are used to.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission, in the third quarter of the current Continuous Voter Registration taking place nationwide, they have recorded 5,173,335 new registrations. This increase in voters speaks of the obvious political awakening by many citizens, but on the other hand, these new recordings appear overwhelming for INEC to handle.
Notably, the endless cues and moments of being “under the sun or in the rain” are one of the many hurdles faced by Nigerians trying to get their PVC’s.
Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, who is the state’s resident electoral commissioner at Awka, noted that an increase in the number of prospective registrants has put a significant strain on the Commission’s ability and resources. In order to handle the increase in potential voters for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) drive in Anambra State, the Independent INEC has established 25 more registration centres, bringing the total to 87.
Notwithstanding a statement from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Lagos State, which promised the populace that it had put in place sufficient security and equipment to register all eligible voters.
However, there are rising concerns about the gruesome process and length of time that it takes many aspiring voters to get their PVC.
Seun Sadiq told Guardian Life, “So I’d planned to leave early and I went there around nine, thinking that by nine o’clock, you know, I’ll just write my name and everything because I’ve already registered online.
Getting there, they had 3 lists of physical, online, and change of details. So I wrote my name under the physical list to start over, and I was number 271 on the list. And from my eye survey, the people on the ground were not up to the number on the list, but for some reason, I heard people saying that if they stopped somewhere, they continued the next day.
The INEC officials on ground were dilly dallying and more interested in threatening us, telling us they would not attend to us if we did not move back. ”
Despite all that Sadiq faced, she remained patient until “it started raining and I could not take it anymore.” I was drenched and went home. Since then, I’m yet to get my PVC, but hopefully when I go back on Friday, I hope luck comes my way. “
Apart from the environmental hazards, which are but a mile away from being the difficulties faced by Nigerians, more citizens divulge the good, the bad, and the ugly they experienced while trying to be valid voters in the upcoming 2023 elections.
Like Sadiq, Joy Oghene, as a fashion designer, told tales about her INEC and PVC “waka”.
“The day I went to the INEC office at Festac, there was no one to ask questions. Most of us that came were stranded for information. I went on a Monday, and I was told that they were following a list from Friday. I met others outside who told me that to gain access, some people had been bribing the INEC officials for a year to let them in.”
She explained further that she hung around the premises hoping for the best even though none of the INEC staff were passing across substantial information.
In her wait, she recounts, “I met an old acquaintance who said he’d been there since 7am and was not certain how the INEC staff were working since they were not saying anything.” I exchanged numbers with a woman and a man who brought his three daughters to register and were not aware of the online registration platform, which I shared with them. I was discouraged and have not gone back because if they are following a list from Friday, then when will it get to my turn? ”
Keeping tabs on the possible outcome and the possibility of getting her PVC, Joy said that she called the woman she exchanged numbers with, who said she had gone back three times afterwards, and the situation seemed almost impossible.
Part of the challenges she noted was speculation that if one was an Igbo person, there was some sort of attempt to get them frustrated to dissuade the chance of voting for the Igbo presidential candidate.
Despite some of these unfriendly events, some relentless citizens still marched on, while some were on the brink of giving up. Hence, will the political awakening be futile as many individuals resign from the PVC pursuit arising from the frustrating process they face?
The International Centre for Investigative Report notes based on their findings that getting a PVC has gotten difficult, according to several of the potential voters who spoke with the ICIR at the Ojo INEC office in Igbede, Lagos.
The rising complaints cannot be ignored as many of them complained that despite arriving early at the INEC office, they were ignored, forcing them to leave angry.
A Twitter user, Adebimpe, said after her online registration, she got a paper like card but wants to change her polling unit. In her attempt to do that through the official INEC website, she did not get a response.
In a new update from Enugu, the youths took a protest to the INEC office in the state to protest the insufficient machines given to execute a seamless registration.
Similarly, in the Old Parade Ground in Abuja, while thousands are locked outside the gate, thousands more are seated inside waiting to be attended to. And as they hoped for a positive outcome, Maria said she had a “smooth registration” process and that this was because of her “connect”. She said tagging along with a colleague made the seamless experience she had.
Meanwhile, there are many others who have subscribed to bribery to get their PVCs after critically assessing the challenges ahead of them.
This year, INEC budgets 40 billion naira for elections. The chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, presented to the National Assembly, through the Commission’s Election Project Plan (EPP), a bill of N305 billion for the general elections.
INEC blames the hike in budget prices on the skyrocketing prices of resources and more. However, some Nigerians cannot seem to equate the requested bill to their inability to make available resources that will boost and lessen the hassles that many go through.
Again, some of them were instructed to obtain forms from the office and manually fill them out if they had not registered online when the site opened for registration. A site which Beauty describes as not being “user friendly” and “inactive”
Najite believes INEC should take all the blame for the hustle and bustle many endure.
“I just wished they would get to my turn because I got there around nine o’clock in the morning. And it looked like there was no way that I was going inside the office. So I have not gone. “
Another aspiring voter, Remi, wanting to activate her rights to vote, said of her location at Ikotun that the INEC officials are consciously stalling the efforts of Nigerians.
“So I would say there’s actually a conscious effort to frustrate citizens from getting their PVC. Because, why did you ask us to do online registration if we will still have to go through unnecessary stress? And the people behind it are those people working at the INEC office, particularly because they just want to attend to people that they know, people that have already paid them. Okay, so my registration date was June 14th at 1 p.m. When I registered online, they said we could print out registration forms, like the front page, or show them when we got there. But what is the essence of printing them out when we can just show them? I arrived at the location at 11:30 am, an hour and thirty minutes before my appointment. I met people who had their appointment dates 3 days before me and they had not been attended to. A few of them, who I was actually talking to a few people, said that they had been there since 6am, 7am, some 8am, and they had all done the online registration and it was still so hard for them to get their PVC’s.
Some who had cancelled their plans to be there were so frustrated. The attitude of the INEC staff registering voters was bad because they literally ignored anyone who called them to find out how to get registered. “
Remi left the centre at Ikotun by 5pm, and unlike others before her, she managed to get her PVC, but that was not without struggle.
Olakunle Lawal, a pharmacist, also faults the government, saying, “It’s the FG and INEC.” The NIN saga taught Nigerians to take government declarations seriously. Thousands need this PVC, yet it is a lugubrious process here in Lagos, especially to achieve. The government should give more funding and INEC should create more centres for registration, processing, and collection.
There are too many bottlenecks in the process, so it ain’t a warm experience getting a PVC. “
As to what could have triggered the spike that INEC has noted, some Nigerians attest to their ever evolving plight as being the reason they have embarked on to exercise their civil rights.
A father of a family of 7 from Enugu state, Mr. John Ogwu, told Guardian Life, “I hope we get it right this time around.” Now we are all faced with our I don’t care attitude. I face this hardship as a father, and it is challenging for me to even put food on the table for my wife and children. I promised myself that I would go through any hardship to obtain my PVC and cast my vote to remove this bad government. I was unsuccessful the previous day, but I arrived early today to get my PVC. “
As the June 30th deadline draws closer, Nigerians are increasingly getting agitated and the fear of not playing their part in determining their leaders looms over the heads of many. With the 2023 election still months away and many voters still missing their PVCs, it may be a good idea to postpone the deadline by at least a month.
That undoubtedly would, in a way, reduce the pressure felt by many and give INEC officials more time to implement better strategies to ensure that at least seven in ten Nigerians have their PVCs.