79% of registered voters have collected PVCs – Survey

There is a high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 general elections as 79 percent of registered voters in Nigeria have successfully picked up their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as of Dec. 22, according to a new survey by SBM Intelligence.

SBM Intelligence said 6,588 voters were surveyed in 16 states across the country midway into the PVC collection timetable issued by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ascertain how Nigerians who desired to vote and who have completed the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process were faring with regards to the collection.

“The study shows that there is a very high degree of interest in voting in the 2023 elections and amongst those who desire to vote, 94 percent of them went ahead to complete the CVR and 90 percent have tried to get their PVCs, even if they have had to visit up to six times to do so,” it said.

It said the 79 percent successful collection rate is a marked improvement on the 41 percent recorded in the first survey carried out in July 2022. “All these indicate an electorate going the extra mile to ensure they can exercise their franchise in the 2023 general elections.”

The PVCs issued by INEC are cards that empower people to vote during electoral polls. In June 2021, the commission began an online CVR process across the country in a bid to improve the process and give eligible Nigerians the opportunity to have their PVCs ahead of the 2023 general election taking place in February.

INEC brought the CVR to a close in July last year. So far, over 93.5 million Nigerians are eligible to participate in the 2023 polls.

“The 9.5 million new voters have been added to the existing register of 84 million voters. The preliminary register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93.5 million,” Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of INEC, said last year.

Analysts at SBM Intelligence said the commission must be commended for improving the process to the degree where Nigerians trust it enough to engage it and try to carry out PVC transfers, which most have ignored for multiple election cycles prior.

The survey also revealed that when respondents were asked if they experienced violence or abuse in the PVC collection process, 24 percent responded in the affirmative.

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“Of these, the majority were classified as verbal abuse (41 percent), followed by physical violence (24 percent) and emotional abuse (22 percent),” it said.

SBM said these gaps must be closed in the second half of this PVC collection window to empower all willing Nigerians to exercise their right to vote at the ballots in 2023.

It recommends that violence experienced in the PVC collection process needs to be investigated and measures put in place to forestall such occurrences going forward.

It also said INEC needs to be more transparent with the actual reasons and call for logistical help where needed.

“Cases, where voters can find themselves on the voters register, displayed on the CVR portal, but their PVCs cannot be found and/or they are told they cannot be found on, the system needs to be documented and investigated. A citizen’s complaint portal on the INEC portal should be incorporated for these purposes,” SBM Intelligence said.