Lamenting that some Nigerians are already hurting the electoral process, the INEC told Saturday Vanguard that many people are unwilling to collect their PVCs, lamenting that it now has over eight million of such uncollected cards in its kitty.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
INEC’s Director in-charge of Voter Education, Publicity, Gender and Civil Society Liaison, Mr Oluwole Osaze Uzi, in an interview with Saturday Vanguard, added that while the commission in some cases had tried to reach out to some Nigerians to come and claim their cards, many of them said they were not interested or that they had relocated from were they were registered.
His words: “You know we do not distribute PVCs. They are collected. The onus is on those collecting. There are quite a few cases where the cards have not been printed but that is not the main issue. The issue is the collection. We have over eight million cards lying down in our offices, uncollected, and we have distributed them to our distribution points. It is now an issue of the collection. ‘’So, we are putting in place measures to assist those that are willing to collect their cards. We are simplifying the process, ensuring maximum publicity so that people will know the importance because, automatically, they are disenfranchising themselves when they do not pick up their cards. We are trying to persuade people. Some are not interested.
‘’Sometimes, we even try to call them. In Oyo State, I know that they even had to call people on phone but those that they were able to reach said they were not interested in the cards. Some said that they had relocated. So, we are making efforts. In some states, they have sent text messages too for collection.”
2015 election mistakes
Non-distribution/collection of PVCs was one of the problems that plagued the 2015 election. While the INEC insisted on individual collection in some parts of the country, it allowed monarchs or district heads to collect and distribute the cards in other parts of the country.
Other problems included: malfunctioning card readers; inability of Direct Data Capturing Machine, DDCM, to capture fingerprints of voters in many locations; some states had surplus DDCMs and accessories while others had few; people dislocated by violence vote in some locations but could not vote in some parts of the country; and poor handling of the voters register in which 82,206 men were captured as housewives (due to input error during voter enrolment) among others.
According to the INEC’s ‘’Smart Card Reader Accreditation Backend Transmission System’’ of the 2015 Presidential and National Assembly Elections, only 10,266,139 (43 per cent) of the 23,643,479 voters accredited had full-biometric authentication while 13,377,340 (57 per cent) failed biometric authentication and were allowed to vote if they showed their PVC.
Going further, there were 23,643,479 accreditations but the total votes cast (declared result) was 29,432,083 and percentage of voters accredited with smart card readers, CSRs, was put at 80.
A breakdown of the accreditation showed that while the INEC enforced full-biometric accreditation in many parts of the South the measure was relaxed in most parts of the North.
For instance, states where most of the voters voted without full-biometric accreditation include: Kano (82.5%), Nasarawa (78.6%), Sokoto (77.1 %), Zamfara (75%), Taraba (75 %), Kwara (73.4%), Katsina (72.4%), Borno (69.6%), Yobe (68.6 per cent), Kebbi (66.8 %), Jigawa (66%), Bauchi (61.3%), Niger (57.2%), Kaduna (54%), and Plateau (52.6%).
Southern states where most voters voted without full-biometric accreditation were Bayelsa (77%), Imo (64.1%), Ebonyi (59.4%), Anambra (57.1%), Akwa Ibom (55.2%), Enugu (52.9%, and Ekiti (50.5%).
States where the INEC strictly ensured full-biometric accreditation until later in the day had a lower percentage of people voting with only PVC accreditation. Most of such states are in the South. They include: Lagos (24.6%), Abia (31.9%), FCT (36.5%), Osun (38.9%), Delta (39.8%), Oyo (41.2%), Kogi (42.2%), Edo (43.7%), Ogun (44.4%), Cross River (45.5%), Ondo (46.3%), Gombe (47%), Benue (48.5%), and Adamawa (48.9%) (see table).