2023: INEC Laments Failure Of Prospective Voters To Pick Up PVCs, Tasks Political Parties

By Femi Kasali

With 211 days to the 2023 General Election, electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lamented the failure and low turnout of prospective voters to pick up their Permanent Voters Cards at designated areas.

The Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje, said that this is the more reason there is Voters apathy in elections in the country.

Agbaje said that INEC has spent huge sum of money to produce the PVCs and the failure of electorates to pick it up makes the effort of the electoral umpire to be futile.

The Lagos REC made this assertion during INEC Stakeholders Meeting with Political Parties at the LCCI Hall, Alausa, Ikeja.

Agbaje said that INEC is working assiduously round the clock towards ensuring the successful conduct of the 2023 General Election, and has converted some Voting Points to Polling Units, the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) Exercise, ongoing collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), releasing of timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 General Election among others are some of the events already put in place for the smooth conduct of the elections.

He added that the low rate of PVC collection in Lagos State is worrisome as only 6,382 PVCs out of 34,242 received from the Commission’s Headquarters for the first and second quarters CVR had been collected by their owners.

Agbaje said this is just 18.6%. Similarly for the old PVCs, a total of 1,091,157 are still uncollected by their owners.

In view of the foregoing, INEC urge Political Parties to continue to assist the Commission in mobilizing the eligible citizens residing in Lagos State that are yet to collect their PVCs to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the ongoing collection of PVCs at the INEC LGA offices where they registered to collect their PVCs as anyone without the PVC cannot vote during any election. Simply put, “NO PVC NO VOTING”.

“As we speak, the Commission has implemented five (5) out of the fifteen (15) activities outlined in the timetable and schedule of Activities for the 2023 General Election, some of which include the publication of Notice of Election, issuance of Notice of Election on Monday, 28thFebruary, 2022 in line with section 28(1) of the ElectoralAct, issuance of forms EC9 and EC9A, EC9B, EC9C, EC9D & EC9E to Political Parties through the INEC website on 1st March, 2022 for issuance to their candidates, submission of forms EC9 (Personal Particulars of Candidates) and EC9A, EC9B, EC9C, EC9D & EC9E (Names / List of Nominated Candidates) between 10th and 17th June, 2022 for Presidential and National Assembly Election.

“It is pertinent to note that the Commission has also taken a bold step in her ongoing efforts to inject technological impetus into the electoral system and has further strengthened the voting process for the conduct of very free, fair, credible and acceptable elections by introducing the Bi-modal Voter Authentication System (BVAS) which enables human recognition through biometric verification mechanism, using fingerprint and facial recognition to replace the Smart Card Readers which only enables human recognition using fingerprint. The device is also equipped to scan the result of poll at the Polling Unit on form EC8A and send to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal real time to further enhance the transparency of elections”.

Speaking further, Agbaje said that in Lagos State, 640,786 eligible voters had done the online registration before it ended on 30th May, 2022 but as at Monday, 20th June, 2022, only 338,955 have completed their registration and the Commission is making frantic efforts towards ensuring that all eligible citizens are captured before the end of the CVR.

“ As the General Election draws nearer, political parties should ensure that apart from providing platforms for the sponsorship of candidates during the election, they properly educate and mobilize the voters through the conduct of lectures, seminars, and other positive engagements in line with the Electoral Act 2022 and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“This is a significant area where the Commission needs the positive input of the political parties to complement her ongoing efforts towards improving the level of awareness of the citizenry in the democratic process. This will no doubt increase the PVC collection rate and avoid voter apathy that have characterized past elections in the State where only 1,156,590 out of 6,570,291 registered voters(17.6%)participated in the 2019 General Election in Lagos State. Similarly, only104, 405 out of 1,343, 448 registered voters (7.8%) participated in the 2020 Lagos East Senatorial District Bye-Election”.