• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Edo, Ondo guber: INEC’s bottleneck seen as responsible for poor PVC collection of PVCs

Parallel primaries, parties’ infighting disruptive and costly – INEC

…Nigerians call for overhaul of Commission’s distribution process

Observers have warned that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must address perennial hitches often encountered in the collection of the Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) ahead of the gubernatorial election in Ondo, Edo states on September 21.

The Commission is expected to start the PVC collection on May 27 in both states ahead of the off-cycle gubernatorial elections; many people are of the opinion that the commission must devise a new strategy to remove the bottleneck that was faced by prospective voters in the run-off to the 2023 general election.

Read also: INEC to resume voter registration in Edo, Ondo ahead of governorship elections

Overall, poor collection of PVCs undermines the integrity of elections and hinders the ability of eligible voters to participate in the election process.

Many experts agreed that the commission must devise a new strategy to remove the bottleneck often associated with the process involved in collection of the voters’ card.

Last week, the INEC had disclosed that 373,030 PVCs were yet to be collected by prospective voters in Edo state.

The Commission also said that 261,703 PVCs are yet to be collected in Ondo as the state prepares for its November 16 governorship election.

The INEC National Electoral Commissioner in the state, Rhoda Gumsus disclosed this during a stakeholders meeting on the Continuous Voters Registration (CRV).

“From the commission’s published statistics of registered voters, Edo State has 2, 501, 08 Permanent Voter’s Cards. The number of PVCs collected and uncollected were 2,128,288 and 373,030 respectively,” he said.

A major challenge of the 2023 elections was the production and distribution of PVCs and it remained a concern of voters, politicians and political parties from the differentiated political spectrum in Nigeria ahead of elections of gubernatorial election in both states.

Experts say the high number of unclaimed PVCs in the run-off to elections questions INEC’s distribution strategy.

It is common to see lamentation in most PVCs collection centres in Nigeria, in most of those centres tension often rules the air, as some registered voters often expressed displeasure with the hitches which hinder the smooth distribution of the cards.

However, with Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections, few months away, many people fear that several eligible voters could be disenfranchised if what was experienced in the run-off to the 2023 poll repeats itself.

Some Nigerians say the poor collection of PVCs leading to major elections was caused by the commission’s inability to be transparent in the distribution process.

“It is the commission that is making it difficult for people to get their PVCs, you register people and instead of you simplifying the collection process, you turn it into a fight.

“Why can’t they take the cards to the streets? It appears some people often benefit from the process and are happy people don’t get their PVC fearing they would not be voted into power,” John Duke, a political analyst, said.

Duke further stated that such a government often lacks legitimacy and credibility, which is why bad governance prevails in Nigeria.

According to him, “They make it so difficult that at the end of the day, half of the people who registered to vote would not get their cards.

“You find out that in a state of three million voters, the governor would not get 700,000 votes because of poor turnout and people unable to access their cards. Such a government lacks legitimacy.”

Similarly, there are those who say that the problem often associated with distribution of PVCs is a calculated and deliberate attempt to disenfranchise Nigerians.

“There was an elite capture of the distribution process which ultimately affected the performance of INEC in reaching the electorates with their only instrument of electoral mandate.

“Some of the PVCs were hidden, diverted and sold and these transactions with political and economic motives were perpetrated by political elite within and outside INEC.

“We argue that when state institutions make strategic errors in programming either as a result of pressure from vested interests, or unforeseen situations, they create avenues for elite capture and in this case, the capture of the distribution function and this adversely affected the effectiveness of INEC and therefore the quality of electoral outcomes in the country,” Temitope Musowo, scholar and public policy expert, said.

Musowo further said that there was the need for urgent reform to strengthen the independence of INEC thereby weakening future elite resolve at capturing such processes.

According to him, “These institutions are bound to incur huge losses including higher transaction cost in rectifying the errors and block areas of elite capture. Early institutional programming is needed to ensure Continuous Voter Registration and the production of electoral materials.

“A reform is needed to strengthen the independence of INEC thereby weakening future elite resolve at capturing such processes; and a revisiting of the production of new PVCs to ensure that all eligible voters possess their PVCs.

“This will ensure the protection of electoral mandates and the strengthening of democracy.”

Meanwhile in Edo, unlike experience in the past the commission said it was doing all it can to make the process seamless, noting that the collection of old PVCs would be done side-by-side with the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise.

He also disclosed that each registration centre would be managed by two officials drawn from the commission and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

“In addition to the registration of voters, the Commission will also make available the uncollected PVCs for collection during CVR.

“Also note that no PVC will be collected by proxy. Registered voters should come in person to collect their voter cards.

“There will be no pre-registration option because of time constraints”, he said and appealed for the support of the media, CSOs, traditional rulers and religious leaders in encouraging voters to locate and pick up their PVCs.

In Ondo State, Kunle Ajayi, the national commissioner supervising Ondo, Ogun and Osun, said the electoral body will begin the CVR exercise in all the 210 centres of Ondo.

He noted that the new CVR exercise will commence from Monday, May 27 to Wednesday, June 5, 2024, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily, including the weekend, while begging the election stakeholders to mobilise prospective registrants for the forthcoming CVR exercise.