BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

INEC cries out as majority of Rivers people shun PVC collection

...National supervisor says only 10,000 out of 55,000 PVCs so far collected ...says dumped cards into gutter may not be from Rivers ...Hope rises for those who want to be on the ballot

New persons may be swarming the registration centres in Rivers State forcing the state’s officials to extend the time and deadline, but most of those that had previously registered have shunned collection of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC).

This outcome has led the leadership of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to raise the alarm, asking the people to go collect their PVCs.

INEC also said Tuesday, July 26, 2022, that the scandalous discovery of a huge number of PVCs in a gutter in a part of Port Harcourt is still under investigation. The organisation said its probe so far has revealed that the PVCs may not belong to Rivers State as no unit is looking for any PVC.

Giving details on the very slow collection, the national supervisor in charge of some states including Rivers, Mary Agbamuche-Mbu, said there are only seven months to elections.

“From our records, 278, 417 new voters were registered, as well as 127, 670 voter transfers and 43, 080 PVC replacements as at July 24, 2022. Rivers State has 3, 587, 679 registered voters in the books, coming 4th in Nigeria behind Kaduna, Kano and Lagos,” Agbamuche-Mbu said.

“With regards to the distribution of new PVCs, 54, 945 have been received but only 10, 373 have so far been collected, leaving an outstanding balance of 44, 572. For transfers and replacements, of 16, 949 received, only 1, 790 have so far been collected. From the old PVCs we have on record 302, 297 cards but only 33, 575 collected.

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“I must be emphatic here and put on record that the collection of the PVCs has been abysmally low. With 7 months to go to the 2023 General Election, we urge the people of Rivers State to collect their PVCs in good time and not to wait until the last minute.”

The Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) began nationwide online on June 28, 2021 and the physical [in-person] registration followed a month later on July 26, 2021, she stated.

Rivers INEC received 95 INEC Voter Enrolment Devices (IVED) which were said to be deployed to the 24 Registration Centres in the Local Government Areas and the Head Office.

INEC claims credit for successful elections in Ekiti and Osun and hopes to repeat this in 2023. The deadline of registration was extended after a court case which INEC won.

The commission has also extended the time for registration from 9am to 5pm daily, including Saturdays and Sundays. Further arrangements and schedules have been made by the Management of INEC, Rivers State to ensure that the registration officers capture every applicant in all registration areas, no matter how challenging the terrain.

“I must applaud the figures that emanated from Rivers State during the CVR Exercise as they showed that the Rivers State office conducted voter education and widely sensitized the electorate throughout the year long period of the exercise. It also goes further to show that the people of Rivers State are fully prepared and are looking forward to exercising their franchise at the forthcoming elections,” Agbamuche-Mbu added.

“I reiterate that the Commission will close this CVR Exercise on the 31st of July, 2022, so as to display the tentative Register of Voters for claims and objections that will help to both purge and update the Electronic Register of Voters, copies of which will be made available to all political parties thereafter before the elections.”

On the dumped PVCs, Agbamuche-Mbu said no unit in Rivers State has admitted to any missing PVC. She said investigations by security agencies are continuing.

The national officer said the Commission has now displayed the names and affidavits of particulars of all candidates for the Presidential, Senate, House of Reps, Governorship and State Assembly Elections. “The Commission will continue to work hard to give the Nigerian people free, fair and credible elections come 2023.”

Other sources however showed that hope still exists for those wanting to be on the ballot. It has been gathered that when the window for withdrawals and replacements comes, parties would be free to conduct fresh primaries and fill the vacancies.

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