In this report Chibuzo Ukaibe looks at the update on permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) distributed so far by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the matters arising.
The pulses of Nigerians are high as they wonder whether the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) can win the race against time with the distribution of the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs).
Although the electoral commission has said it is ready, if need be, to continue the distribution of the PVCs until election eve, the calls from some quarters for the postponement of the election because the backlog of PVCs to be distributed and collected before the February 14 and 28 elections isn’t waning.
This is more so because INEC has ruled out the use of temporary voters card (meaning that only those with PVCs can vote), sparking much tension, in the face of the possibility that a huge number of eligible voters would be disenfranchised in one of the tightest electoral contests in the nation’s history.
But as the momentum builds, INEC has released an update on how far the distribution process of the PVCs has gone, perhaps as a measure to douse those fears and concerns and show that it’s on course.
According to its latest data, the electoral body declared that 42,779,339 PVCs have been distributed so far, out of the 68 million cards billed to be distributed to eligible voters.
However, while 26million PVCs are yet to be collected, the percentage of collected PVCs is now 62.15 per cent.
In addition, the commission declared that 145,000 smart cards have been distributed so far. The commission further disclosed that the number of polling unit is 119, 973.
In the state by state breakdown by the commission, Abia State has distributed 1,020,997 (73 per cent); Adamawa: 1,239,820 (79 per cent); Akwa Ibom: 1,328,714 (79.05 per cent); Anambra: 1,222, 002 (62.25 per cent).
Others are Bauchi: 1,745,441 (84.97 per cent); Bayelsa 386,125 (63.26); Benue: 1,132,187 (56.18); Borno: 999, 470 (56.18); Cross River: 776,977 (66.09)
Others are Delta: 1,422,595 (62.52); Ebonyi 714,351 (66.50); Edo: 1,046,960 (58.63); Ekiti: 492, 869 (67.33); Enugu 738,933(51.70); FCT: 459,913 (52.18); Gombe: 873,698 (78); Imo: 682,046- (37.24).
Jigawa: 1,460,620 (79.76); Kaduna: 2,976,628 (87.36); Kano: 2, 612,400 (52.50); Katsina: 2,245,303 (79.40); Kebbi: 1,232,357 (83.8); Kogi: 773,197 (57.24) ; Kwara: 711,920 (62.33).
Lagos: 2,267,039 (38.39); Nasarawa: 850,619 (66.45); Niger: 1,250,379 (62.07); Ogun: 666,752 (36.4); Ondo: 824,715- (54.09)
Osun: 995,562 (70.75); Oyo: 1,156,593 (47.88); Plateau: 1,141,260 (57.01); Rivers: 1,253,606 (49.40); Sokoto: 1,211,717 (75.17); Taraba:1,079,383 (80.51); Yobe: 740,336 (67.31); Zamfara: 1,045,855 (69.92).
Last week, the commission declared that it has taken delivery of four million additional cards which were moved to the field.
But earlier this month, the commission disclosed that based on a documentation it did in August 2014, 38 million cards were distributed leaving a total of 15 million uncollected.
This was however before the voters’ register was reviewed from 70,383,427 to the current state.
According to that data released by INEC, out of the 54,341610 PVCs printed, only 38,774391 were distributed, which is 71.35 per cent of the PVCs printed.
Going state by state, Lagos State with four million PVCs, only 53.98 per cent or 2,159,091 voters have received their PVCs, leaving behind 1,840,909 eligible voters without the PVCs.
Also in Rivers State, with a registered 1,956,983 voters, only 1,253,606 or 64.06 per cent have been distributed, leaving behind 703,377 voters without the PVCs.
Another state seriously affected by the poor distribution of the PVCs is Imo State, where 1,252,307 PVCs were received but only 682,046 (54.46 per cent) voters have received their PVCs, leaving behind 570,261 eligible voters without the PVCs.
In Kano State, 3,198,859 PVCs were received but only 59.64 per cent were distributed, with 427,674 PVCs yet to be distributed.
Also in Anambra State, a total number of 1,665,342 PVCs were received but only 862,747 were successfully distributed or 51.81 per cent with 802,595 PVCs are yet to be collected by the eligible voters in the state. In Oyo State, 1,985,370 PVCs were received with 1,141,405 or 57.49 per cent distributed and 843,965 as at press times yet to be distributed.
The distribution of the PVCs in Jigawa State was partly successful as out of 1,551,831 PVCs distributed, 1,460,620 or 94.12 per cent were distributed, leaving behind only 91,211 voters yet to collect their PVCs.
The modest, yet significant, increase in collection of the PVCs, was largely due to the directive of President Goodluck Jonathan to INEC for all eligible voter to get his or her card, which precipitated the decentralisation of the distribution process of the PVCS from the local government to the ward level.
With the calls for the postponement of next month’s elections reverberating on the score that the commission couldn’t sort out the PVC distribution, it needed to save its face.
Besides the call by the national security adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki, for the postponement because of the PVCs, a group besieged the vicinity of the national headquarters electoral commission, demanding the cancellation because they wonder how the commission would, as they say do the magic of distributing the cards before the election.
Also, grumbling over the distribution process which perceptibly indicated that there was a higher degree of a collection in certain geopolitical zones sparked a new dimension to the clamour for PVCs distribution.
For instance, there were allegations that some eligible voters in the northern states collected their PVCs by proxy, a claim which was confirmed by the Borno State The resident electoral commissioner, Kassim Gaidam, at a recent stakeholders meeting for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Abuja.
He said although they got complaints of collection by proxy in the state, such complaints only emanated from those who were actually engaged in the process. The commission frowns at this practice.
Again, the House of Representatives conveyed same fears of the inability of the INEC to deliver the cards and disenfranchise many, deliberated on the issue and passed a resolution to make those with TVCs vote in 2015.
While INEC has resisted the resolution of the lower chamber with regards to the TVCs, the political parties have come in defence of the electoral commission with regards to the postponement of election on grounds of PVC distribution.
The 26 political parties, under the aegis of the Inter Party Committee (IPAC), asked the federal government to declare public holiday for collection of permanent voters’ cards (PVCs).
Chairman of IPAC, Dr Yusuf Tanko, who spoke at the quarterly meeting between political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, told INEC not to postpone the forthcoming general elections slated for next month as being agitated in some quarters over the inability of categories of eligible registered voters to get their permanent voters’ cards (PVCs).
According to him,”as we speak INEC has not come out to tell us that the elections will be shifted, INEC has been carrying the registered political parties along in all the preparations for the February polls,though there may be challenges in the area of distribution of the permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) that is not enough to postpone the elections, to us it remains agitation and we are not in support of the idea”
But INEC is racing against time with regards to sorting out the entire gamut of its logistic issues, chief of which is the distribution of the PVC.
With less than 16 days to the general election, the scramble to ensure that INEC gets its act together on the PVCS and commence wider sensitisation for a new innovation in a keenly contested election is pivotal, some analysts opined.
The ready criticism against INEC is that it had all of four years to prepare and plan for this election, yet it is faced with this crisis of PVC distribution challenges, which as important as it is, seems to have garnered the bulk of its attention in recent weeks.
Just as the political elites have been suspect in the scuttling the elections by their acts, the perennial logistics concern by INEC appears to be as much a threat to the elections as the antics and violence instigating remarks of political elites.
The commission in 2011 postponed the elections because it had little time to prepare for the election, but in a highly charged political environment and an election which is too close to call moves to shift elections are likely to be greeted with suspicion.
Some INEC watchers have noted that it is not enough to collect PVCs but to their names in the recently released voters register.
The executive director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Center, (PLAC) Clement Nwankwo noted “that is an important issue of worry to us. We did monitor some governorship elections and we found out that in some states like Anambra, many people showed up at their polling units but couldn’t find their names in the register. However, we saw that in Ekiti and Osun states, these issues were minimised. But it is an issue of concern and we believe that INEC will prepare for this.
“We know that INEC has sent the voters register to the political parties and we know that they should raise questions we know that the political parties should be much more able to analyse these issues that is why INEC has given them the voters register to analyse and wait till Election Day to raise these incidence.”
Nevertheless, the apathy by electorates towards the collection of the PVCs has also been an issue of concern, just as INEC and political parties have been criticised for not doing enough on sensitisation.
Director of voters registration at INEC, Engr Emmanuel Akem, while speaking on a national television said the PVCs are more available now since the decentralisation but maintains that there is apathy. He however notes that this is because the “registration not compulsory, lack of interest, driving it down to the lowest levels. Business people especially in the east don’t seem interested so much. But there is improvement. We can only appeal to them. But INEC can’t Bear the cost of taking it down to people’s houses, it is quite expensive.”
On his part, Nwankwo, noted that while the civil society has become more involved in the campaign for the collection of PVCs, the political parties have not done enough.
He said “now the political parties are failing in their responsibilities of civic awareness. They have the responsibility to ask citizens to go pickup their PVCS and vote. Rather they have attacked themselves and threw up scare-mongering. Even if you have a hundred percent collection you will never have a hundred percent turnout.”
Jega has however assured that the electoral commission will stick to election timetable it released last year, noting that distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) will not alter the date slated for the elections.
Jega, who stated this at the official launch of the Mitigation Of Violence in Election (MOVE) in Abuja, said the issues of PVCs distribution before the election is something the commission will handle before the election dates.
The INEC boss said the commission was prepared “if push comes to shove” to sustain the distribution of PVCs till the eve of elections.
Jega who was responding to a position by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, who called for the postponement of election within the time frame of the electoral law, however said the commission has not discussed possible postponement.
He continued “the challenge of distribution PVCs, we believe it is something we can address before the elections. I don’t know what else anybody wants me to say about this. We issued a timetable for the 2015 election almost a year ago and we have been busy working to implement that time table to the letter.”
/* * * DON'T EDIT BELOW THIS LINE * * */
dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + '.disqus.com/embed.js';
(document.getElementsByTagName('head') || document.getElementsByTagName('body')).appendChild(dsq);
comments powered by