• Friday, April 19, 2024
businessday logo


PVC collection: Different strokes for different folks

PVC collection: Different strokes for different folks

Few weeks to the general election, millions of registered voters may be disenfranchised if urgent steps are not taken by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other stakeholders to address the hitches in the collection of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) across the country; findings by BusinessDay Sunday have shown.

Lamentation and tension rule the air in some ward centres visited, as some registered voters expressed displeasure with the hitches which hinder the smooth distribution of the cards.

Some of the registered voters appealed to INEC to extend the January 29 deadline for the collection of the cards so that they would not be disenfranchised.

It is, however, not all gloom as testimonies differ from one individual to another, depending on how quick or stressful the collection was to them.

While some condemn the process outright, alleging hanky-panky, some others sing the praise of INEC for a job well done.

There was large number of people at some of the collection centres visited.

In some centres, some of the registered voters said they had arrived as early as 6 to 8am, yet they were having difficulties collecting their cards after waiting for several hours.

In some centres, it was observed that the distribution was complicated by the lack of enough manpower and other bottlenecks which made it difficult for the INEC officials to attend to the large number of registered voters waiting to get their cards.

In some Local government areas in Lagos State visited, the exercise was going on smoothly, especially in some wards with low turnout.

In a ward collection centre in Ejigbo, Oshodi-Isolo Local Government, the INEC official was accused of engaging in shady deals and colluding with parties’ agents by making the cards available to their party members at ease, at the detriment of the general populace, some whom had to stand in long queues for several hours. Many people also complained that despite visiting the centres for days, they were yet to get their PVCs.

At Moruf Primary School, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo, many registered voters expressed disappointment about the long hours they had to spend before they could be attended to.

They accused the INEC officials of selectively distributing the card.

A registered voter, Sunday Oke, said after waiting for more than six hours, he was told to come back in three days, because his card could not be found despite his name appearing in the register.

Read also: PVC collection: Badagry residents commend INEC

“It was discovered that my card was not among the ones they were sharing after I waited here since morning.

“I did not go to work today, I had to take an excuse from the office and come with my wife to get our PVCs. But my name is in their register.

“We noticed that not all the cards are here, after they told us they have all been taken to the wards for distribution at the INEC centre in the council.

“Even my wife that did transfer was told to go back to where she did it, that it was likely to be unsuccessful.”

Blessing Udo, another registered voter, appealed to INEC to extend the January 29 deadline for the collection of the PVC, noting that with the situation on ground, it would be difficult for several people to get their PVCs before that day.

“I doubt if everyone can get their cards before that day, look at what is happening here for example, the crowd, and as you can see only three people are attending to them.

“I want to appeal to INEC to extend the date,” Udo said.

When confronted, an INEC official in the centre, told BusinessDaySunday that she was not bothered about complaints from the people.

“I am not bothered, you can only observe as a journalist,” the INEC official said.

Meanwhile, the distribution of the PVC card was going on smoothly in several ward centres visited in Alimosho Local Government Area.

In Egbeda and at Government Technical College in Ikotun part of the council, the PVC distribution was going on smoothly as INEC officials attended to the registered voters in the order of their arrival, while cards were given to their owners after their details had been documented by INEC officials.

The distribution was however, carried out under tight security, as men of the Nigerian police and other security agencies were on ground.

Some of the registered voters commended INEC for the hitch-free PVCs distribution exercise in the wards, stressing that they were hopeful that the 2023 poll would be free and fair.

They said they were desirous of voting to enable them carry out the needed leadership change in the country.

“I came here within 30 minutes and I was able to get my card; I like the orderly manner the process is going here.

“We hope the election is like this and is free and fair. I had to come to get my card, so I can vote, the suffering is too much in the land,” Tunde Ogunshola, a teacher, said.

An INEC official at the Government Technical College in Ikotun, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the exercise was going on orderly in the centre, adding that everyone would be attended to before they close for the day.

“As you can see, there is no problem, I can tell you that we would attend to everybody sitting here before we close for the day. Some of the people complaining about not seeing their cards are those who did double registration,” he said.

Also, in Agege, amid little hitches in some centres, the distribution of the cards in several wards was going on peacefully in the council.

Following widespread complaints, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) had extended the deadline for the collection of the PVCs.

The exercise will now end on Sunday, January 29 instead of January 22 as earlier scheduled.

The Commission also extended the date for the collection of the PVCs at the ward level from 15 January, to January 22.

INEC also promised to investigate and punish any staff found to have extorted or discriminated against any registered voter in the issuance of the PVCs.

In recent weeks, several Nigerians have taken to social media to complain about the bottleneck and challenges they had encountered in attempts to get their PVCs.

There are videos trending online where INEC officials turned away registered voters and refused to give their cards after they waited for several hours in a centre.

Last week, the Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) raised the alarm over an alleged attempt by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate the PVC collection exercise in the state to their favour.

The party subsequently petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari, INEC, and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba Alkali, to investigate the alleged development.

When contacted by BusinessDaySunday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, Olusegun Agbaje said the Commission had sent additional personnel to several wards in the state to aid the distribution of the cards.

Agbaje added that the distribution was going on smoothly in several centres, stressing that about 6, 000 and 9,000 cards are given to their owners daily in Alimosho and Eti-osa.

He also promised to investigate the activities of officials in some centres and would personally visit such centres.

“We have our men on ground in those places, and we have sent additional manpower; where we think they are needed in the last two days.

“The exercise is going on smoothly, the people who have not seen their cards are those who probably did multiple registrations,” Agbaje said.