In what appeared to be a dramatic political volte-face, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said yesterday that Nigerians who are currently registering in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise will now get their permanent voters card (PVCs) in October 2022 instead of January.
The nation’s electoral body had earlier said new PVC registrants would get their card in January 2023, a month before the general elections.
The January date announced by the commission for the collection of PVCs had generated negative reactions, with some Nigerians alleging that it was a ploy to disenfranchise them in the 2023 general election which is billed to commence in February 2023.
But speaking during a Youth Vote Must Count 2.0 concert organized in Abuja by INEC, Yiaga Africa and the European Union, INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, yesterday assured new registrants that they would get their PVCs in October this year.
“Now, when will your PVCs be ready for collection? I want to assure you that the PVC will be ready for Collection latest in October this year. So all of you will have your PVCs,” he said.
Yakubu said INEC registered over 14,000 Nigerians during the mega concert in Abuja.
The INEC chairman was however silent on the deadline for voter registration exercise, but assured that the registration will continue.
“So, we will not stop registration until we are satisfied that those who wish to register are given the opportunity to do so,” he stated.
Recalling that INEC had deployed more machines to the states two weeks ago, Yakubu said, “In this place, this is the Old Parade Ground. In the last five days, Monday to yesterday Friday, we were still registering today, but in the last five days, we have registered over 14,000 Nigerians in this place.
“Here in this place, we have 50 voter registration machines. Two weeks ago, we deployed more machines to the states. More machines left yesterday and more machines are leaving today all over the country. By Monday there will be more machines to register more Nigerians.
He appealed to Nigerians to use their PVCs primarily for election purposes and not for bank account opening.
His words: “Now, when will your PVCs be ready for collection, I want to assure you that the PVC will be ready for Collection Latest October this year. So, all of you will have your PVCs.
“I want to thank you for making the PVC the most popular ID card in Nigeria today, not being the PVC. But, what do you do with your PVCs, don’t use the PVC for all other things. The PVC is for election not opening of bank accounts.
“Please use your PVCs for the election. So I want to ask you. I will also give you my own promise; for those of you who registered on what we call the INEC reserve viewing portal, you were seeing the results from the polling units on Election Day in Ekiti state. Ekiti was good, Osun is going to be better and 2023 will be the best. Your votes will count.”
Earlier in her speech, the head of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi, charged Nigerian youths to take hold of their future.
Reaffirming EU’s partnership with the Nigerian Youths, she urged them to remain strong against opposition.
She said, “Do your work to remain the master of your future; they do not know how to do it. Go out, vote! Vote for your leaders, challenge them, hold them accountable and stand for your values and your opposition.
“This is the way to build democracy. This is the way you can get better governance, a better future, and a better Nigeria. We, the European Union, stand by you, we want to work together with you to make Nigerian democracy stronger. Now this is the result of a great partnership.”