Distribution of permanent voters cards started on a slow note across the country on the first day of the 42 days set aside by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the exercise. While some centers recorded impressive turnouts others had scanty crowds at the collection centers. The determination of the would-be voters to exercise
Distribution of permanent voters cards started on a slow note across the country on the first day of the 42 days set aside by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the exercise. While some centers recorded impressive turnouts others had scanty crowds at the collection centers. The determination of the would-be voters to exercise their right at the polls in 2023 was quite palpable on their faces.
Some political parties and community-based organisations like the DEAN Initiative took to the streets in Abuja to announce the commencement of the distribution exercise, going to university mini campus, town halls and shopping centres to encourage citizens to go and pick up their cards. Some of the political parties took to the social media to encourage their members to go and collect their cards.
In Osogbo, the INEC Osogbo Electoral Officer, Mr. Francis Adewale could be seen going round the centres to monitor and supervise the exercise and when the Nigerian Democratic Report caught up with him said the Commission has started sending words to community leaders and registered political parties to inform their people about the ongoing distribution of the PVC.
But, at the INEC office in Osogbo local government, piles of PVCs could be seen on display with owners yet to come for them. Mr Francis Adewale expressed the readiness of the INEC to distribute PVCs to the electorates. He added that the state Resident Electoral Commissioner has been going for sensitisation across the state, but it is still surprising that only a few people are available for the collection.
“The collection of PVCs has commenced as planned and people are coming with ease to pick up their cards. We just need to encourage people out there to come around for their cards. We have cards for people who transferred and people who have registered as far back as 2011 can come around to collect their cards. I don’t know why there is a low turnout but I know that the honourable Commissioner has gone on the radio this morning to announce for the people to come for their voters’ card”, Mr Adewale said.
There was enthusiasm on the part of those who came out and some of them really came prepared armed with fezcap to shield the sun while others brought their bottle water and a few snacks to fight hunger.
INEC was very prepared for the distribution at some of the centres visited with different officials manning different desks and the PVC were arranged at earshot, easy to access once the owners completes formalities of identification. Canopies were provided outside the offices at some of the centers for the comfort of both INEC officials and their visitors.
In Abuja, some came in face-cap, others had water bottles in nylon bags. A few wore sun shades because of the unfriendly sun. Undoubtedly, the determination of Nigerians to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) was written all over their faces. They queued even in the sun and contrary to the Nigerian way of doing things- waiting till the last day of an exercise to do it, activities were on the upbeat at INEC Offices and facilities witnessed and a good number of Nigerians eager to collect their PVCs.
The turnout on the first day of the exercise showed the confidence Nigerians have on the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that their votes shall count in the 2023 general elections.
Mr. Paul Okonkwo who stays in Gwarimpa District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) said he came early around 8:00am but was shocked by the crowd he met on ground. He said he met over 200 people outside the gate of the FCT headquarters, Area 10, Abuja. The building also accommodates the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) office.
One Alhaji Sheu Mustapha Musa commended INEC officials for managing the crowd and making the exercise stress-free and orderly while Mrs Beatrice Oche who spoke to Nigeria Democratic Report at the Karu office of INEC commended the officials for attending to people on first come, first served basis.
Spokesperson for INEC in the FCT, Mrs Akpe Agnes said ;”this is the first day and you can see the turn out. It is impressive. Nigerians more than ever before are now convinced that their votes will count”. She explained that all INEC staff are involved in the exercise because of the time frame for the distribution exercise.” We are prepared. They have been trained and they are doing it ward by ward, though the sun is a bit high, our people will cope and get it through”.
According to her, the exercise took off in the six Area councils. For AMAC, and the cards are being distributed in the Area 10 office and Karu office. She further explained that the Area 10 office of AMAC attends to those in the City center, Garki,Kabusa, Wuse, Gwarimpa and Jiwa stressing that it is much easier to come to their Area 10 office from these areas. While Karu office will take care of Karshi, Orozo, Kurudu, Jikwoyi, Karu and Nyanyan.
Mrs. Obumaike Chinwoba, the head of the Karu office in Abuja also explained that her team made adequate arrangements to make the exercise orderly.
Though the process was smooth in Osogbo but turnout was not as high as in Abuja. Adebiyi Kafayat, a resident who was at the INEC office to collect her voter’s card said the process was seamless. “I came here to collect my voter’s card and I was given without any hitch. I was not asked to pay any amount, as you can see, I’m holding it in my hand now”.
Similarly, at INEC office, Olorunda local government, Osun state, the Electoral officer, Mr Salisu Saka indicated that the commission was ready to distribute PVCs to people who come to the centre. Although there was no resident present at the local government at the time the NDR visited the local government, Mr Saka said they have reached out to the citizens to ensure they come for the collection of their PVCs.
“As you can see, we have the cards on the ground and we have arranged them, we are only waiting for people to make themselves available at the INEC office to collect their cards”, he said.
The Osun state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mutiu Agboke, while going around for supervision of the PVCs distribution process said people who registered must come out and get their voters card. He added that the commission, in Osun state, has been going around for sensitization.
“As you can see, we are going around to see the level of compliance and to encourage people to get their PVC. It is what gives them the right to vote on election day, they need to come out”, Mr Agboke noted
Also, the Osun state Chairman of the Joint Association of People with Disabilities, Mr Stephen Oluwafemi called on the PWDs to exercise their franchise rights by collecting their PVCs.
He added that he had already sent a WhatsApp message to all their members to show their participation by collecting their PVCs. He also urged the INEC to ensure credibility during elections.
“I have sent a message to all the executives and chairmen of local governments, I want all persons with disabilities to troop out to get their voters cards because that is their power to vote”, Mr Stephen said
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