2023: 9.3m PVCs lying idle in INEC’s coffers, Utomi alleges
As groups storm INEC’S headquarters over non-distribution of PVCs
A chieftain of the Labour Party (LP), Professor Pat Utomi has lamented the non-distribution of Permanent Voter Cards PVCs in the coffers of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC, alleging that at least 9.3 million such cards are lying idle in the commission’s offices.
Utomi stated this on Thursday when he, alongside the Chief Spokesman of the Peter Obi/Datti Ahmed (Labour Party) Presidential Campaign Council, Dr Tanko Yusuf and others led an advocacy walk to the INEC Headquarters under the aegis of the “Big Tent.”
Utomi, who is the leader of the National Coalition Front NCFront and Convener of the Big Tent coalition of Political Parties, Social Movements and Civil Society organisations urged INEC to decentralise the process of PVC collection and of possible, take the cards to the doorsteps of Nigerians.
He queried the necessity of even having the PVC as a requirement for voting, saying with biometrics authentication of a potential voter, there was no need to have a physical card.
He said; “It is the duty of INEC to do everything possible to decentralize and take down to the people, their PVCs, to make sure that everybody who was registered gets his or her PVC.”
“We even know that the process is biometric.” So, it should not even matter if they don’t have it (PVCs). Once their faces and fingerprints are recognized, they should be able to vote. It is not acceptable for Nigerians to be disenfranchised.
“We know that about 9.3 million voter cards are yet to be collected and are sitting idle in INEC offices. We want an explanation. If INEC needs help, we are ready to volunteer so that these cards can get to their rightful owners.
“We also want to discourage persons from further vandalizing INEC offices and burning PVCs which is capable of disenfranchising Nigerians.
“There is urgent need for the dissemination of information regarding the PVCs”, he added.
Utomi urged INEC to make extra efforts towards the distribution of PVCs to Nigerians, especially persons with disabilities
Tanko on his part urged all “Obidients”, that is, supporters of Mr Peter Obi, to ensure that they replicate the advocacy walk across the states and wards in order to collect their PVCs.
Receiving the petition on behalf of INEC, an Assistant Director at the headquarters, Kelechi Maduneme, said the commission does not have the capacity to distribute the PVCs, stating that Nigerians have to go to their respective INEC local government offices across the country to collect the cards.
He said; “I have collected the letter on behalf of my director, and it will be delivered to the Honourable Chairman.
“On the request that you have made, the Honourable Chairman of the Commission had at several times assured Nigerians that no registered voter will be disenfranchised. He has made that point eloquently at every forum that the votes of Nigerians will count in 2023.
“But I want to remind you that it is the responsibility of every registered voter to go and collect their PVCs. A lot of the PVCs have been printed, and as we speak, the commission has commenced the display of the temporary register of voters. So, every Nigerian has the opportunity to visit the polling units to check their details.
“However, I want to state that it will be very difficult for INEC to carry out the distribution of PVCs because of the resources involved.” So, I will like to appeal to every registered Nigerian voter to visit those units and wards to collect their PVCs”.