The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Wednesday decried low rate of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) collection by registered persons in the territory.
Alhaji Yahaya Bello, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), made the remark at INEC’s stakeholders meeting on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and PVCs distribution in Abuja.
Bello said that as at March, only 3,118 PVCs had been collected in the territory, and urged all registered voters in the area yet to collect their PVC to quickly do so.
“The rate of collection of PVCs of the 2011, 2014 and 2016 registration has been very low.
“As I speak, we still have 246,882 uncollected PVCs of those years.
“At the end of the 2018 first quarter of the CVR on March 22, we had only 3,118 persons across the six area councils that collected their cards.
“But, 67,227 were registered, 15,524 transferred their registration to FCT and 12,559 incident cases were treated. Of course, the second quarter of the exercise is still ongoing.’’
The REC urged political parties to partner National Orientation Agency (NOA) to sensitise voters to the need to register, collect their PVCs and vote correctly in the 2019 general elections.
“I must appeal to our political stakeholders, especially political parties that aspire for people to vote for them to ensure that people are mobilised to collect these cards because without PVCs people cannot vote for them.’’
Bello also advised political parties to sensitise voters on how to vote correctly so to address the issue of invalid votes.
“It is not just about voting but voting correctly. In every election, so many invalid votes are recorded.
“It is not only the duty of INEC, but that of every stakeholder, particularly political parties, to ensure that their supporters know the importance of voting and voting correctly.’’
He reiterated the commission’s commitment to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
Reacting to a question, the REC said that the leadership of the commission was going round to monitor the conduct of the commission’s staff in the ongoing CVR and distribution of PVCs to ensure correctness.
On his part, The Director of NOA in the territory, Mr David Dogo, attributed the large number of uncollected PVCs to issues of procrastination by registered voters.
“So many Nigerians will not go and collect their PVCs until it gets to the last minute. That is when you see people rushing. We had that experience in the last general elections.
“We must address this mentality as early as possible. The earlier we do things, the better for our country.’’
Dogo appealed to those yet to get their PVCs to do so, saying “if we are serious about these elections and if we are patriotic enough, some little inconveniences should not stop us from collecting our PVCs“.
He said that the commission was already sensitising FCT residents on the need for them to register and collect their PVCs.
Dogo pledged that in spite of financial challenge, the agency would continue with the public enlightenment in the media and public places such as markets, car parks and places of worship.
Some of the issues raised by stakeholders at the meeting included distance to polling stations and need for effective communication by INEC to citizens. (NAN)