Socio-political think-tank alleges deliberate refusal, reluctance of some INEC officials to give PVCs to registered voters
*Urges electoral umpire to allow the collection of PVCs until 48 hours to elections
*Wants INEC to set up PVC collection situation room
The Executive Director, of Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, (ASSPT), Dr Sam Amadi, has expressed worries over the alleged deliberate refusal and reluctance of the officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to give Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) to registered voters.
Consequently, Amadi urged the electoral umpire to create another opportunity whereby people would be allowed to collect their PVCs until 48 hours before the elections, warning that it is a breach of the constitution for INEC not to provide PVCs for registered voters.
He also called on INEC to set up a PVC collection situation room where all registered voters who are yet to collect their PVCs will call in real time to complain about the challenges they are facing.
Speaking at the second in the series of press conferences by the 2023 Election Observatory of the Abuja School yesterday in Abuja, the Executive Director stated that the country is in a state of emergency and INEC needs to fastrack PVC collection because there is a high level of anxiety across the country.
According to him, there is also much anecdotal evidence of ethnic or religious profiling of registered voters and such reports are more from Lagos State, which has a history of vote suppression based on ethnic profiling.
He said: “The Commission is determined to ensure that registered voters are able to collect their PVCs on time before the election.
“As the deadline draws near, many registered voters are yet to collect their voters card. In many cases due to the misbehaviour of INEC staff who collude with politicians to deny some registered voters their PVC, and in many cases, due to avoidable operational hitches.
“Some stakeholders, including political parties have raised concerns about the process before the extension was granted. They complain about the slow pace of work. Others complain of obstruction of INEC officials or inadequate arrangement for a more grassroots collection.”
Amadi further stated that there are concerns about students who have returned to school but registered at home while schools were closed due to prolonged strikes.
“The question is whether it is reasonable to expect these students to leave school, go back home and collect their PVCs within the period allocated by INEC for PVC collection.
“INEC said it has captured a total of 93,469,008 eligible voters in its voters register following the final clean-up of double registration and underage voters. The commission also stated that out of the 93,469,008 registered voters for the 2023 general election, women voters constituted 44,414846 or 48 per cent, while men constituted 49,054162 or 52 per cent. The youths (18-35) constituted 37,060,399 or 40 per cent.
“According to the commission, most of the states with low PVCs collection rates were states where off-season governorship elections were conducted. Some INEC officials have blamed the prevailing culture of indifference as the reason for the high number of uncollected PVCs.
“Whereas it is true that Nigerian electorates may have shown indifference in the past, we are seeing a greater commitment to vote as a result of the precarious state of affairs in the country.
“Our people report a high level of turnout to collect PVC. We can also report that a significant number of registered voters have been turned away on the ground that their cards are not available or are yet to be printed. All these logistic failures are avoidable with better planning and round-the-clock registration and collection of voter cards”, he added l.
Amadi however noted that the greater blame lies on the system put in place by the electoral management body to manage the logistics of registration and collection of voter cards adding that many have questioned the value of waiting last minute to begin the collection of voter cards, considering the time sensitivity of the electoral process.
“In the context of INEC’s low efficiency of technical operations, it is willful to assume that all voter cards will be collected within such a short period.”