Why We Have Not Made PVCs Available –INEC Chairman
The printing of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) for new registrants has been delayed by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) rigorous cleaning up of the voters registry, the commission announced on Monday.
News Agency of Nigeria
INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this during the opening ceremony of the five-day Induction Retreat for INEC’s National Commissioners in Lagos.
The commission, he says, is heartened by citizens’ responses to the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) initiative, which has lately expanded physical registration beyond state and local government locations across the country.
“Millions of Nigerians have registered so far and we have been giving weekly updates of the progress of the exercise for the last nine months.
“The commission is aware that new registrants as well as those who applied for transfer or replacement of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) will like to know when the cards will be available for collection.
“The reason why we have not made the PVCs available is because of the robust system of cleaning up the registration to ensure that only genuine registrants are added to the voters register using the Automatic Bimodal Identification System (ABIS) for fingerprint and facial clean up.”
INEC had completed the ABIS for the first and second quarters of the CVR, according to the chairman, who added that the commission will convene next week and that specific dates and sites for PVC collecting would be disclosed.
He stressed the importance of the retreat, saying that the commission bears the responsibility of conducting free, fair, credible, acceptable, and inclusive elections, necessitating the need for each commissioner to be ethical and knowledgeable.
INEC currently has a full complement of 12 National Commissioners, according to Yakubu, who said that the retreat would allow the new commissioners to learn a lot, especially with the new Electoral Act 2022 coming into effect.
“The commission has introduced a number of new innovations that it needs to perfect ahead of the general election, hence the need to continuously engage with citizens and stakeholders.
“However, while these innovations and stakeholder engagements are critical to preparations for elections, we should bear in mind that equally critical to the conduct of successful elections is our credibility as election managers.
“Our impartiality, dogged adherence to rules, commitment to the sanctity of the ballot and sound knowledge of the electoral process are also critical.
“This retreat is important, especially coming shortly after we released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 General Election in which party primaries are scheduled to commence next week and end on the first week of June, that is between April 4 and June,” he added.
INEC has completed work on the Strategic Plan 2022-2026 and the Election Project Plan for the 2023 general elections, Yakubu said, assuring Nigerians of the commission’s commitment to credible elections in 2023.
According to him, INEC will complete work on the Election Regulations and Guidelines as soon as possible, taking into account the requirements of the Electoral Act 2022.
“The three documents will be published and presented to the public next in April.
“May I also seize this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that we have identified the challenges associated with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) during voter accreditation,” Yakubu said.
He said that the BVAS performed well in rural, sub-urban, and urban areas of Cross River, Imo, Ondo, and Plateau during recent bye-elections in six constituencies in four states of the federation across four geo-political zones.
In these bye-elections, the INEC chairman stated that the commission received no complaints from voters or allegations of technical difficulties from observers.
He promised that INEC would continue to improve the system in the next bye-elections and governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun on June 18 and July 16, respectively.
“The commission is also working on the distribution of voters to polling units across the country, following the successful expansion of voter access to polling units.
“Very soon, we will roll out the plan for achieving a more balanced distribution of voters to the polling units.
“As always, we will engage with stakeholders across the board to ensure a more participatory approach so that the exercise is seamless and voters will have a more pleasant experience at polling units on election day.”
Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner in Charge of Information and Voter Education, stated that the training was necessary because some of the incoming national commissioners come from diverse backgrounds and professions.
“It is important for them to know the workings of the commission and ethical issues.
“We have no time to waste, they need to move to the states where they supervise to get acquainted with the operations of the commission, especially at the state and the local government levels,” Okoye said.
Mr Seray Jah, Nigeria Country Director, International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES), said in his goodwill message that IFES had been a strategic partner with INEC since 1998 and had provided technical assistance in important areas.
IFES had aided INEC in strategic planning, election project plans, electoral operations, marginalized group inclusion, and technical training in core electoral thematic areas, according to Jah.
He claimed that the partnership between IFES and INEC has aided INEC’s ability to hold credible elections.
Mr Olusegun Agbaje, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos State, stated earlier in his welcome address that INEC, as the guardian of democracy, could not help but strive to exceed the standard it had established for itself throughout time.
Agbaje said: “Though we may feel (and correctly so) that we are still in the Green Zone of preparations for next year’s polls, we may soon discover that time is no longer on our side if the right things are not done at the right time.
“Election management is now a knowledge-based venture.”
All INEC national commissioners, directors, and resource persons, including the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega; the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Ryan; and the Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, were in attendance, according to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).
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