By Adeyemi Adeleye
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Lagos State, says 5,676,858 PVCs have been collected out of 6,630,661 received in the state from 2011 and 2021.
Mr Olusegun Agbaje, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Lagos state disclosed this at a Stakeholders’ Meeting on Collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) with leadership of political parties, civil society organisations, and religious leaders on Thursday in Ikeja.
Agbaje, who commended all stakeholders for collaboration in the quest to build a sustainable democratic culture in Nigeria, said the commission was doing everything possible to deliver an acceptable and credible elections everyone would be proud of in 2023.
“It is pertinent to note that as at Dec.2, 953,803 PVCs were yet to be collected by their owners.
“These uncollected cards and the expected PVCs for fresh registrants , transfer or review from January to July will be available for collection in all INEC offices across the state from Monday, Dec. 12.
“It is instructive to note that collection of PVC by proxy will not be allowed and the collection of PVC is free.
“Owners of transferred, defaced or other incident PVCs should bring along with them, the old PVCs for exchange with new ones,” the INEC boss said.
According to him, for the avoidance of doubt, anyone without PVC cannot vote in the 2023 general elections in line with the Electoral Act 2022.
He said that INEC had fixed the collection of PVCs from Dec. 12 to Jan. 22, 2023 at its Local Government Area offices and from Jan. 6, 2023 to Jan. 15, 2023 at the ward levels.
The commissioner said deadline of Jan. 22 for collection of PVCs became imperative to enable INEC compute the polling unit by polling unit records of PVCs collected.
Agbaje said the deadline was to aid INEC preparations in line with sections 24 (2&3), 47 (3) and 51 (2) of the Electoral Act 2022, in case the margin of lead between the two leading candidates in an election was not in excess of the total number of voters who collected their PVCs in polling units where elections were postponed, voided or not held.
“Consequently, all those that are yet to collect their PVCs are to do so within the period and avoid last minute rush as the commission will not extend the collection period,” he added.
He explained that Lagos state had 13,325 polling units and 245 wards spread across the 20 LGAs, saying that 13, 325 Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) would be deployed for authentication of PVCs and accreditation of voters.
He said that INEC had continued to work round the clock toward ensuring that no stone would be left unturned for the creation of very conducive electoral environment for an all inclusive participation of all stakeholders.
Agbaje said that INEC had introduced new technologies to make the election more credible, assuring electorate that votes would count.
He stated that INEC had also been engaging in comprehensive voter education and public enlightenment campaign through personality programmes on radio and television stations, playing of jingles on radio and television, market outreaches, motorised public address system and stakeholders engagement among others.
The commissioner said that INEC had also cleaned up the voters’ register, trained different categories of staff on the new technological innovations, monitoring campaign by political parties as well as online recruitment of ad-hoc staff.
On INEC expectations from stakeholders, the INEC boss urged them to assist in securing the commission’s assets including men and materials.
He also urged them to shun violence, fake news, malpractices, snatching of ballot boxes, buying and selling of voters cards, intimidation of election officials, vote buying and all other election vices.
He urged stakeholders to work for peaceful election and also mobilise electorate to come out en-mass to collect PVCs to enable eligible voters to vote for the candidates of their choice during the election.
He stated that the major challenge for INEC had remained apathy among the electorate and the attitude of do-or-die and win at all cost by political class.
According to him, some politicians deploy all sorts of illicit means such as vote buying, use of thugs to disrupt election processes, raising of false alarm and dissemination of fake news to whip up unnecessary sentiments as well as the use of hate speeches or vulgar languages to undermine the electoral process.
He reassured all stakeholders that INEC would continue to be neutral and transparent while creating a level playing field for all the candidates participating in the general elections.
“It is, however, worthy of note that the consequences of not getting it right is enormous and should not even be contemplated.
“I therefore, urge us all to do everything necessary within the ambit of the law toward playing our various roles effectively as well as prepare for the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive 2023 general elections.”
In his remarks, Mr Olusegun Mobolaji, the Lagos state IPAC Chairman, who commended INEC for carrying stakeholders along and for giving them updates, pledged that IPAC members were also committed to peaceful and credible elections.
Stressing that ‘election is not a war”, Mobolaji urged all stakeholders to work hard on political awareness, education and security to forestall apathy.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that various stakeholders raised questions around security of voters, vote selling/buying, bringing PVCs closer to people, relocation of INEC offices from premises of local government secretariats among others. (NAN)