2019: 8 Million People Have Not Collected Their Pvcs, INEC Cries Out

Barely five weeks to the start of this year’s general election, the
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said about eight
million would-be voters are yet to pick up their permanent voter card
(PVC). One of INEC’s National Commissioner, Dr. Mohammed Lecky,
disclosed this during an interview with THISDAY on Saturday while
reaffirming the commission’s commitment to the prevention of electoral
fraud.

Lecky also said the commission had no intention of
re-introducing the controversial incidence forms in the February and
March elections.

He said, “In fact, the use of the incidence form
has been completely abrogated. It is no longer part of INEC’s
regulations and guidelines. So, that is the position. There is no
re-introduction of the incidence form, contrary to what the media had
reported recently.

“First and foremost, INEC is a very responsive
agency and once people raised the objection and following the review of
the 2015 general election, a number of observers, like the CSOs, NGOs
and international organisations, had made recommendations on how to
improve and we have to respond to them. One of the things they
recommended is that we have to do away with the incidence form because
it could be susceptible to all manner of abuses and we don’t want to
give chance to those abuses to either occur or give a perception to
their occurrence.”

Regarding the number of PVCs yet to be
collected, the INEC national commissioner said, “There is no state in
the country where we have achieved 100 per cent distribution of PVC. The
distribution of PVC is the biggest headache for us. We need the media
to help us encourage the people to come and collect their PVCs. People
are not coming forward to pick their PVCs. We have about eight million
PVCs yet to be collected by Nigerians.”

The INEC commissioner
stated further that in the absence of the incidence form, the electoral
body had put measures in place to ensure rigorous authentication of the
would-be voter in case the card reader failed to work.

He noted,
“It is possible to have a situation whereby the card reader is
malfunctioning and we have to resort to manual accreditation. A would-be
presenter who presents himself to cast a vote but his fingerprint
cannot be authenticated. In that case, his PVC will be sufficient – as
it is verified that the card is issued by INEC and that it belongs to
the would-be voter.”

Continuing, Lecky said, “We have a voter
register at the point of voting in which we verify the name of the
would-be voter, his photo and other details. So, if we don’t use
incidence form you are removing a cloud of doubt. So we’re responding to
that by removing the form.

“At the same time, we are also taking
details of voters’ personal information. We have redesigned the
register itself. The voter register now has provisions for us to take
your details.

“We will take your name, again, we will take your
phone number. If we are asking for those details the person may not go
forward because he knows we can follow through to know exactly who he is
and whether he has come to impersonate or something like that. Such a
measure is a deterrent for any perpetration of electoral fraud.”

Lecky,
however, expressed concern about the country’s media becoming a
conveyor of fake news. He said, “We are very concerned when we saw that
the media, particularly newspapers, carried a news that is not true on
the front page – something that could have been easily verified on our
website. We have been doing our best to ensure fake news does not impact
on the forthcoming elections. We have been embarking on various voter
education campaigns and advertisements and engagement with the media; as
well using various social media platforms to counteract fake news.

“We
are also using youth ambassadors to ensure the right information is
passed to the public. We are also making ourselves available to be
engaged – if you want to interview the chairman or any of the
commissioners. We are also open to suggestions from the media on how to
carry out our national responsibility.”

He dispelled a rumour that the electoral body would not post election results at each polling unit.

“This
is not true. In our new regulation, that particular requirement is
mandatory – it’s not optional. It’s mandatory that results must be
posted at every polling unit. We are urging the media to remain
nonpartisan in the coming elections. They should be circumspect in their
reportage. INEC is ready to work with the media to ensure the elections
are credible and fair,” Lecky added.