The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has expressed concerns over uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards ( PVCs ), few days to the 2019 general elections, lamenting that they are running into millions.
The commission’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who raised the alarm during the regular quarterly consultative meeting with the media in Abuja, warned that the commission would not allow collection by proxy.
He further revealed that the commission would work with the security agencies to deal with the politicians trying to compromise INEC staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by the legitimate voters.
Speaking specifically on the uncollected PVCs, the INEC chairman said: “I urge all registered voters who have not collected their PVCs to approach any of our Local government area offices and other designated collection centres nationwide to pick up their cards. While we are encouraged by the response so far, millions of cards are yet to be collected.
“I wish to reiterate that the commission will not allow the collection of PVCs by proxy. The cards will be available for collection until at least one week to the election. I want to thank the media for mobilising citizens to personally collect their PVCs without which no person can vote on election day,” he warned.
On the unholy collaboration between the politicians and INEC staff in charge of distribution of the PVCs, he said: “We appeal to the media to continue to partner with the commission by making information available to us while we work with the security agencies to deal with the violators of our electoral laws, including those who may be trying to compromise our staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by legitimate voters.”
Confirming that the commission would not adopt electronic voting, he said: “INEC cannot administratively implement electronic transmit. INEC is very willing to do electronic transmission; however, the only reason we need a law in that particular case is that the present law already provides for how transmission should be done and it is manual. We need a law to override the existing law. That is why we are looking for a legal backing not to infringe on the existing law.”
On the simultaneous accreditation and voting for the general elections, he said: “Actually, the procedure for accreditation and voting is not in the Electoral Act but the commission’s residual powers under Section 153 to determine that kind of voting. So, the idea of doing accreditation before voting is entirely a policy matter and has nothing to do with Electoral Act. We don’t need any amendment to determine that kind and I stand to be corrected if there is any section of Electoral Act.
“There is a reason why we abolished accreditation before voting. The cumbersome procedure of going and coming back to vote. Again, after local and international observers made observation, we studied the statistics for last elections and was shocked that about two million accredited voters could not come back to vote,” he said.
On the issue of growing population and failure to increase the polling units, he said: “It is not even the issue of growing population. The growing population in terms of increase in population of individual demographics in the country, also in the movement of the citizens.
“Each time I drive round Abuja, I see settlements and I imagine that and the things that come to mind is how are we going to serve these people on election day without having to travel long distance. There are statistics that if I mention perhaps you might be shocked. Check Gwarinpa. Gwarinpa is said to be the biggest housing estate in Africa.
“Do you know there are only four polling units in Gwarinpa? So, if all registered voters are going to vote in four polling units in Gwarinpa, how many days will it take proceedings in this vote? That is why the last commission tried to create additional polling units. You all know what happened. It became big issue over distribution of these polling units. But we had to respond to pleas by giving them pleasant voting experience on election day.
“That is why the past chairman brought the idea of voting points in close proximity to the main polling units. That is why we have voting points attached to the polling units. A number of these polling points were created. It didn’t change the number of polling units,” he noted.