Sometime in February, Mohammed Haruna, Commissioner in-charge of North-central, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC raised the alarm over voters’ apathy towards the collection of their permanent voters card, PVCs.
Just this week, the commission’s director in-charge of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Liaison, Oluwole Osaze Uzi indicated that nothing has changed; if anything, it is worsening.
In the typical Nigerian fashion, INEC blames every other factor for this development, barring itself. By the revelation of its officials, the staggering number of the unclaimed PVCs flows from those abandoned way back in 2015 and from the continuous voters’ registration, CVR exercise, which began last April.
In blaming the voters for not coming forth to collect their PVCs, INEC like the artful dodger, shied away from telling Nigerians what it has done or has been doing in terms of awareness campaign and voters sensitisation on the issue.
Given the zero voters awareness campaign it has ran since 2015 on PVC collection, INEC should be reminded that it would not be out of place for voters, many of whom tried severally and failed in 2015 to get their PVCs in order to vote, to still assume that perhaps the PVCs are still not ready, especially when they see and hear nothing in the form of campaign or simple information from INEC.
Much as the CVR is commendable and has ground out some results, INEC is not unaware that getting registered largely involves intending voters passing through hell and high waters.
In many registration centres in the FCT, people show up as early as 7am, get spent in the scorching heat of the sun and leave unattended by the time the registration officials leave by 3pm after what looks like their goofing around since 10am. This is the agonising sequence and routine that largely characterise the CVR.
On its part, collection of the PVC is a process that takes the lucky-to-be-registered to the local government headquarters. As it is with the registration, a couple of vain trips to the local government headquarters for PVC collection, push many to drop out. They drop out in frustration yet whenever INEC finally crawls up with the PVCs, it won’t breathe a word, expecting the people to know perhaps by some kind of voodoo that their PVCs are eventually out.
If INEC still does not know, it follows that it must be reminded in a plain language that it is not doing enough in sensitising the people on the need to step out and collect their PVCs. Who says jingles shouldn’t have been running?
If the campaign for voters to do so have been in place, unclaimed PVCs surely would not have been crowding INEC officials out of their offices. The Independent National Electoral Commission fails to do the needful, yet thinks it is fair game to blame the victims of its own inaction.
It is not enough for INEC chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu and his lieutenants to go to forums and bewail the huge figure of unclaimed PVCs when nothing speaks in the direction of a meaningful action of the commission towards expedited PVCs collection.
The INEC chairman should be reminded that the murky issues that shrouded the application and functionality of PVCs and card-reading machines vastly diminished the integrity of the 2015 election. In 2019, similar issues would not only place the commission’s chairman on the radar for more intense public scrutiny, they would write his testimonial. One of those issues was the allegation of ethnic and religious profiling in the issuance of PVC. We note that even now, this allegation has resurfaced.
Nigerians take it for granted that the INEC chairman understands that the only way to go is to improve the state he met the nation’s electoral system and administration. The liberty is his to choose to write his name in gold or tread the familiar path. If eligible adults are denied suffrage on the basis of some improperly explained issues about PVC, nothing should justify a vote by an underage child anywhere in the country.
Politicians say with certitude that the conceptualisation and execution of electoral fraud is more expertly done at the level of compilation of voters register; in the present time, the PVC. This explains why the public’s alarm bells are ringing, and if it is true, it establishes ipso facto that the electoral body whose active connivance is necessary to successfully game the procedure is a fart in the system; a destructive agent of the process it was designed to protect; a gutless pawn.
The electoral body under Mahmood should not be too concerned with self-glorification over what it has done. It should be more mindful of the delicate shades in all it is expected to do.
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