Issues Around New Surge In PVC Collection

<strong>Issues Around New Surge In PVC Collection</strong>

As Nigerians prepare for the upcoming 2023 general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has expressed worry over the 20 million permanent voters’ cards still lying unclaimed in its vault.

The Commission also decried the earlier poor participation of citizens in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise when it commenced about a year ago before the recent new surge in PVC collection.

INEC’s Deputy Director, Voter Education, Mrs. Mary Nkem, stated this at the launch of the PVC Bus Drive project, organised by a non-governmental organisation, the Advocacy for Civic Engagement, in Abuja recently.

She, therefore, urged Nigerians, especially the youth demographic to be actively involved in the process of electing new leaders that will affect real change and move the country forward.

According to INEC, vote’s not social media will determine the winners of the 2023 general elections.

The CVR exercise began on June 30, 2021, but between that time and a few weeks ago, the turnout had been relatively low.

If the youths would come out en masse to cast their votes, we would no longer be recording 15 or 20% voter turnout in our elections, because we know that the population of the youths alone can make a difference.

Since the youths no longer visit social media, they basically live there today. Therefore, when you want to reach out to them, you must go to where you will meet them, social media.

However, the INEC does not conduct elections on social media nor does it count ballots on Twitter or Instagram.

Ballots are counted in the ballot box. It is only the ballot paper that enters into the ballot box that the Commission counts.

This would then mean that on election day people must go out to cast their votes, and for them to be able to do so, they must be a registered voter and in possession of a PVC.

INEC Executive Director, Advocacy for Civic Engagement, Barr. Obinna Osisiogu, said that the PVC Bus Drive Project will support at least 60% of eligible young voters to register, collect their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, and vote in the 2023 elections.

The project was initiated to eliminate the logistical barriers hindering some Nigerians, particularly those residing in rural areas from participating in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise and collecting their PVCs thereafter.

 The efforts of stakeholders such as ACE working in collaboration with Yiaga Africa and the UNDP which provides free bus service in two area councils in the FCT, as well as across LGAs in Ondo and Ogun States to enable the people to accessing the INEC office nearest to them as part of the traditional and non-traditional means of political mobilisation is highly commendable.

NEC proposed N305 billion for the conduct of the 2023 General Elections in its Election Project Plan, EPP. This represents a 67% increase over the N189 billion spent on the 2019 elections.

The 2023 elections are expected to have more registered voters than the 84 million registered voters recorded in 2019, with over 56,000 new polling units. It is also worth noting that the 2019 general elections saw approximately a 35% voter turnout, whereas the most recent governorship election held in Anambra in 2021 saw an all-time low-voter turnout of 10%, while the just concluded election in Ekiti recorded an improved 36.5%.

It is heartening, however, that recent technological innovations by election stakeholders, particularly INEC, are gradually demonstrating that citizens are likely willing to participate in the process, only if it is seamless. In fact, the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration, CVR, process, which began online, has revealed that more young people are accessing the online portal to register. For example, as of May 16, over 16 million Nigerians had accessed the INEC portal for new registration, transfer of registration, request for new Permanent Voters Card, voter information update, and other purposes. Over nine million prospective voters have begun the process of joining the voters’ register online, but only slightly more than five million Nigerians have gone on to complete the process at the INEC registration centres, this includes the 1.4 million that were flagged as invalid. If the process was only done online, an enormous number of voters would have been added to the register, increasing citizens’ trust in the process.

AljazirahNigeria implores the INEC as the main stakeholder in the entire electioneering process to give heed to the popular call by Nigerians, which was recently re-echoed by the House of Representative to extend the deadline of PVC collection so as to widen citizens’ participation which will result in a more credible and widely acceptable outcome that will see to the election of leaders who will meet the yearnings of the people.

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