INEC extends PVCs collection deadline to February 5
•Utomi Tasks International Community On INEC Not Compromising Its Independence
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again, extended the deadline for collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) nationwide by one week.
The electoral umpire had earlier extended the deadline to January 29 after the initial deadline of January 22.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement, yesterday, said that the decision was taken at the end of the commission’s meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Coincidentally, the Chairman of the Big Tent Coalition of political parties and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for the Obi-Datti Campaign Organisation, Professor Pat Utomi, yesterday, urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to extend the dateline for registered voters to collect their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
Utomi stated that there was no justification for ending the PVC collection exercise when a lot of the people have not collected theirs despite making good efforts.
The renowned Professor of Political Economy made this clarion call at the Big Tent’s grassroots engagement for the ObiDatti movement with another round of the Clean-Up Nigeria project in Lagos to promote a culture of cleanliness of mind, body, and environment.
Okoye said that the INEC was encouraged by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the federation. He, however said, this will be the last extension of the exercise.
Okoye said: “Having reviewed reports from all the states of the federation, the commission is encouraged by the progress made so far as more Nigerians troop out daily to collect their PVCs.
“Arising from reports from the various states and discussions with Resident Electoral Commissioners, the commission has decided to further extend PVC collection in all its local council offices nationwide by an additional one week. The ongoing collection of PVCs nationwide will therefore continue and end on February 5, 2023.”
In a statement by the Director of Media and Communications for The Big Tent, Charles Odibo, Utomi insisted that INEC must rise up to the full meaning of its name by ensuring that its staff do not collude with political bandits to disenfranchise millions of Nigerians indirectly.
He said: “We have information that millions of Nigerians are being disenfranchised through deliberate non-release of their PVCs. INEC must ensure that every registered voter is given the opportunity to collect his/her PVC.”
He, therefore, recommended that private sector-led organisations like chambers of commerce, the economic summit group, and civil society organisations should help INEC with the work of distribution of the PVCs since it appears that INEC staff are stretched.
Utomi also enjoined the international community to ensure that INEC does not compromise its independence through the pressures coming from political elites, who now know that their time is up.
He also noted with regret “as our country continues to slide precipitously into a failed state, the two political parties that drove us to this very avoidable sorry state are busy junketing around the country trying to come back to power to continue.”
At the Clean Up Nigeria event, which was held simultaneously across the country, Utomi stated that it is time to invite everyone to look at where the country is, and how much it needs cleaning.
“That cleaning begins from the physical, we need to clean up our environment because climate change is real. We need to clean up our consciences because to serve the people is a central demand of our citizenship, we need to clean up our ways so that our country can prosper.”
Utomi encouraged Nigerians to ensure that the activity is sustained to clean up the environment and that in cleaning our environment, “we set our minds to clean up corruption, to clean up nepotism, to clean up state capture, to clean up the desire to dominate others because truly it is fascism and it is creeping into our politics.”