With the outcome of recent primary elections in the country, Nigerians have shown renewed interest in registering, collecting and /or transferring their Permanent Voter Cards PVCs ahead of next year’s general election.
Specifically, the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC; Alhaji Atiku Abubakar for the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Mr Peter Obi as candidate of Labour Party, LP, has seen many Nigerians making enquiries as to how to register, collect or transfer their PVCs.
Many political reporters in the country have continued to receive calls from scores of Nigerians seeking information and guidance on the subject matter.
INEC had on May 30 suspended its online pre-registration for the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR and has announced June 30 for the suspension of the CVR itself.
“This will enable the Commission to clean up the registration data, print the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and compile the register ahead of the 2023 general election,” INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu had said.
However, some Nigerians have raised concerns about their inability to complete the online pre-registration before it was closed.
One of them, Emmanuel Dada said he tried severally to no avail to upload his details before the portal was shut down.
“I think INEC should extend this registration for us because someone like me, I tried to pre-register about three times and it appeared that the network was bad. I couldn’t complete the process”, he stated.
Some residents around the Greenville Estate in Lagos have for instance also complained about the attitude of personnel deployed to handle the CVR.
“Last week, they came late, stayed for two or three hours and left. Throughout this week, they didn’t come at all”, said a resident who identified himself simply as Habeeb.
However, there are efforts by individuals to ensure massive registration and collection of PVCs ahead of the polls.
Already, a Christian cleric, Apostle Chibuzor Chinyere, the General Overseer of Omega Power Ministry, OPM, has released all 300 branches of his church across the country for use by INEC as PVC registration and collection centers.
“While our normal church service still holds, we are borrowing INEC space inside our church for PVC registration. So, all members of OPM that have not been chanced to register for PVC, it is now at your door post. As you come to church service on Sunday, you register for PVC.
“If INEC staff don’t work on Sundays, OPM church is ready to contribute small allowances for them to show up on Sundays, while other working days will be paid by INEC”, he stated.
Also, an Awka-based law firm, Antonio Lex Firma has given a two-day leave for its staff to register and collect their PVCs or risk not receiving their salaries.
An internal memo signed by the Company Secretary, Nkechi Duru sighted by Saturday Vanguard gave the staff Thursday and Friday as work-free days.
“I am directed by the Principal Partner of Antonio Lex Firma, Barr. A.K Agbasiere (KSJI) to inform all the staff of the firm and his domestic staff that 9th and 10th of June, 2022 will be work free day.
“This is to enable all the staff to go and register and get their PVC. Consequently, anyone without PVC will henceforth not receive salary”, the law firm stated.
The electoral umpire has however promised to meet on the matter, assuring that no eligible registrant would be left out.
In Lagos where there was an ethnic slant to the activities of some officials, INEC said it has obtained adequate security and also provided more machines for the exercise.
Administrative Secretary of INEC in the state, James Oludele Popoola in a statement said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Lagos State has observed with concern recent happenings in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration exercise in the state.
“The commission at this point wishes to inform and assure all residents that adequate security and machinery have been put in place to capture all eligible voters.
“To this end, the commission has provided more registration machines in the state and these IVED machines will be deployed to the 20 Local Government Areas in addition to what they already have. This deployment will start from Tuesday 14th June, 2022.
“Also, the commission will communicate necessary information surrounding the deployment of the machines within the state to stakeholders and leadership of various interest groups.
“All eligible citizens are thereby advised to remain calm and also encouraged to go to the nearest INEC registration centres closest to them.
“The Commission will continue to ensure a seamless and stress-free procedure for all Nigerians who wish to participate in the electoral process”, he added.
Also, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs in Abuja on Thursday recalled that the introduction of the online pre-registration system and the new INEC Voter Enrollment Device (IVED) helped to reduce the long queues witnessed in the previous registration exercise in 2017 and 2018.
He said unfortunately, in some places the exercise was disrupted by general insecurity, including violent attacks on its registration officials leading to the killing of one of them.
Yakubu noted that as the deadline for the suspension of the current exercise approaches, the Commission has received reports of a surge in the number of prospective registrants that daily throng its State and Local Government Area offices as well as designated centres in many States across the country.
“I wish to reassure Nigerians that the Commission remains committed to ensuring that all citizens who wish to register are given the opportunity to do so. This is one of the reasons why this meeting has been convened.
“Already, some of the Resident Electoral Commissioners have requested for more voter registration machines to ease the congestion. The Commission will deploy additional machines to areas of need immediately.
“Thereafter, the Commission will meet to review the progress of the exercise and take further decisions. We will always respond positively to the needs of Nigerians and therefore appeal to all citizens to be patient with the Commission as we strive to serve them better. We appreciate the desire of Nigerians to register as voters. Let me reassure all eligible registrants that no one will be left out”, he stated.
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