The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) decision to extend the collection of Permanent Voters Card by registered voters may have been in influenced by pressure from stakeholders on the commission to allow more Nigerians enough time to collect their PVCs.
The exercise which was supposed to have to ended on Sunday, January 22 was first extended to Sunday January 29 for collection of PVC at the local government offices of the commission.
However, after a meeting of the commission on Saturday, it announced another one week extension, saying it was encouraged by the progress made so far as more Nigerians troop out daily to collect their PVCs.
It said the Commission will continue to act on all reported cases of sharp practices during the ongoing PVC collection and will ensure that no Nigerian is disadvantaged and all those that carried out valid registration have an opportunity of collecting their PVCs.
While addressing Resident Electoral Commissioners on Friday, January 27, 2023, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said that out if the 940,200 PVCs sent to Lagos state, about 839,720 were collected as at the close of business on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
While saying there are issues the Commission need to deal with ahead of the general election, he said the commission was encouraged by tye determination of Nigerians to collect their PVC.
He said “The Commission is encouraged by the determination of registered voters nationwide to collect their PVCs and the actual level of collection so far.
“For instance, in Lagos State, which has the highest number of registered voters in the country, the Commission delivered 940,200 PVCs from the recent voter registration exercise (June 2021 to July 2022) for both new registrants and requests for transfer and replacement of cards.
“As of yesterday Thursday 26th January 2023, 839,720 PVCs have been collected representing 89.3% of the total figure.
“This meeting with RECs will consider reports from other States of the Federation and the Commission will not hesitate to consider additional measures to ensure that all citizens have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the General Election. We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will always be responsive to the needs of the electorate.
INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Barrister Festus Okoye said the Commission was confident that with the extension, those who registered will be able to collect their PVC on time for the meeting election.
Okoye who spoke on Straight Talk Africa on Voice of America monitored in Abuja said that the commission was hopeful that the technology being deployed for the election will ensure that election results are released earlier than was done in 2019.
He said “the responsibility of INEC is the organise and supervise elections. In line with that, the commission released a time table for tht election containing 15 items which must be achieved. We have accomplished 11 of that. The date for the Presidential and National Assembly as well as the governorship and state Assembly elections is fixed and firm and the issue of postponement is not on the table.
“The Commission has done a lot to make sure that the elections is free, fair, verifiable. The commission has registered new voters. As at today, we have about 93.4 million voters in Nigeria and collection of the PVC is ongoing. We are confident that majority of those who registered will collect their cards on time for this election.
“What we have done as an electoral management body, we have introduced the BVAS which work off line. The only time it needs network is when we are loading results on the INEC potter. Majority of our polling units are covered by all the major networks.
“In places that are blind spots, we have held series of meetings with the network providers and they have given us the assurances and technology to deal with those blind spots. So, if there is a challenge with any of the areas, we have the capacity to overcome them.
“Since October 2020, this commission has conducted what we called off circle elections and we transmitted those results in good time and there were no challenges. We used the BVAS to upload results from Ekiti, Ondo, Osun and Anambra elections and we have mastered the technology.
“On the 4th of February, this commission will conduct mock accreditation using the BVAS. We keep on improving with every election and we are confident that with the technology we have, we can transmit results in real time without any challenge.
“If no candidate secure the highest number of votes and one third of two third of the states, the constitution obligate the commission to conduct a second election and only two candidates will be eligible. The first will be the candidate with the highest number of votes and the candidate with the majority spread.
“When we are preparing for election, we also prepare for a possible run off. If the condition does not allow for a second election, we will destroy the ballot prepared for it. We are hopeful that with the technology that we have prepared, results will come in on time and we will be able to declare of the election quickly than we did in 2019”.