The Cross River State former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Barr. Eyo Ekpo has charged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to expedite action in the process of distributing the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs to electorates so that they can participate in the 2019 general election.
Ekpo gave the dropped the charge while fielding questions from journalists on the extension of the deadline for registration of eligible voters across the country.
Ekpo, who served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice between 2003 and 2007, under the administration of Mr. Donald Duke stressed adding that the focus for many was to register rather than suggest ways to make collection of the PVCs faster and credible.
“Collection of PVC is one vulnerable area people are not talking about. The concern is more on getting people registered. But, we need to know why INEC has so many uncollected genuine printed voters cards still in their custody”. Ekpo stated.
“When we registered, we gave addresses and telephone numbers. One would expect that INEC would distribute the cards to our homes, our on market days, take advantage of those or send messages to our telephone numbers just to ensure effective distribution of the card, Ekpo suggested.
Ekpo who has indicated interest to contest for the seat Governor of Cross River state under the platform of the Social Democratic party SDP in 2019 expressed fear that with millions of voters cards left to be distributed by the nation’s electoral umpire to the real owners, there is a tendency for corrupt politicians to scheme and buy PVCs that are not theirs.
“There have been stories of sales of PVCs to the highest bidders. This should not be the case, INEC must adopt better ways to ensure distribution of PVCs”.
On the extension of the voter registration exercise, the guber aspirant advocated for extension of the exercise to December to enable those who were yet to collect their PVCs do so.
“I am woried about the way INEC is going about the PVC registration exercise. I do not think that producing voters’ cards would require the time INEC is demanding.
“In this day and age of information communication technology, INEC would not need 5 months to produce 25 million new Permanent Voters Cards. INEC should be transparent about its registration process and let Nigerian know exactly how long it takes to get a printed genuine PVC”, opined Ekpo.
The former AG charged legislators at all levels to impress on the Commission to make its process transparent so as to avoid disenfranchising the people.
“I am amused that legislators are allowing their constituents be disenfranchised effectively. The people are registering, yet the process is shrouded in mystery. In countries with advanced democracies, the citizens do not need a voters card only an ID because they are already on the voters’ register”. He said.
On the issue of alternative to registration, the Governorship aspirant said “in Nigeria, we have our BVN, which is an impregnable form of identification. We can use that to vote. The BVN can be utilized to harmonize the way we identify Nigerians”. He said.
The former AG urged Nigerians to make use of the window provided by the nation’s electoral umpire to enable excise their franchise while urging INEC to intensify and expand its voter education so as to give opportunity to those eligible to participate in the process to vote.