- 8m PVCs still awaiting collection nationwide
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that there is no going back on the timetable for the 2019 general elections which was released on January 9. According to the timetable, presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 16, 2019, while governorship, state House of Assembly and Area Councils elections are to be held on March 2. But the recent bill passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly altered the sequence of elections, beginning with National Assembly and ending with the presidential election.
The bill is still awaiting the assent of President Muhammadu Buhari. At a quarterly interaction with the media yesterday, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission was guided by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and the provisions of the Nigeria Constitution, 1999 (as amended), before issuing the election timetable.
“Here, we are dealing with certainties. As far as the commission is concerned, there is no lacuna in the constitution. As far as we are concerned, we are dealing with existing laws. But if eventually the bill is assented to, we will look at the provisions and tell Nigerians what to do.
“As far as the situation is concerned at the moment, we are operating under an existing law, and we have issued the timetable for the elections accordingly. If there is anything that happened tomorrow, we will then examine what happened tomorrow.
“We are covered by the provisions of the extant law and the existing provisions of the Electoral Act, 2010,” Yakubu asserted. He expressed concern on the issue of vote buying but said steps were being taken to curtail the incident, disclosing that INEC was working with the security agencies and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the matter.
The INEC chairman, however, expressed joy with the passage of “Not too young to run” bill by some states in the country, which he said, would broaden inclusivity, especially among the youth, in elections.
He called for suggestions on increasing participation of women and persons with disability in the electoral process. Yakubu further disclosed that the commission was still waiting for the decisions of state Houses of Assembly on the proposed alteration of the constitution to allow INEC conduct local government elections and for the independent candidacy.
He assured Nigerians that the commission would do everything possible to clean up the voter register and ensure that underage persons do not vote in the elections. “We are committed to credible elections.
INEC is committed to electronic transmission of results, but there are factors that are not within the immediate reach of the commission,” he disclosed. He stated that INEC was discussing with the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) and the Nigeria Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) to assist in the electronic transmission of election results. Yakubu disclosed that INEC decided to approach NIGCOMSAT for assistance when it discovered that 3G network was only available in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Senate spokesman, Dr Aliyu Sabi, said there was nothing wrong with the INEC’s statement. Sabi said the position of the law had never been contravened because INEC has to work with existing law and not a proposal.
He said: “The INEC is acting within the existing law, and I don’t see anything wrong with what they are doing. The bill we passed is still inchoate and has not been finalised because the process of making into law has not been completed. So, I don’t want you people to bring us into conflict with INEC.
“I believe that INEC is a law-abiding entity and it has not done anything contrary to the law. So, the comment you say they made is based on the existing law because as an institution it cannot base its operations on something that does not exist. When anything changes, I believe that it will also act accordingly.
“The amendment is in the process and I believe that all of us should work together in the best interest of Nigeria, and not to look for anything that will cause misunderstanding within the arms of government. As lawmakers, we are operating within the ambient of the law, and the INEC is also operating within the ambient of the law; so there is no problem whatsoever.”
Meanwhile, INEC has said that close to eight million Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) had yet to be collected nationwide by their owners. Alhaji Mohammed Haruna, INEC National Commissioner in charge of North Central, made this known in Ilorin yesterday while speaking with journalists.
Haruna was in Kwara to assess the progress of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) in the state. The national commissioner also disclosed that 239,000 PVCs had yet to be collected in Kwara. He said that all PVCs of voters who registered between 2017 and now would be ready for collection in April.
He said that the commission would do everything to ensure that all the PVCs were collected by their owners before the 2019 general elections. “Before the commencement of 2019 general elections, all the PVC will be ready; our problem is collection because we do not have facilities for distribution. “We have close to eight million uncollected PVCs across the country and it will not be nice to disenfranchise these numbers of voters,” Haruna added.
The national commissioner said INEC had put some measures in place to ensure that registered voters collected their PVCs. Haruna said registration of voters would be rotated among the wards in the state during which ready PVCs would be distributed to the owners.
He appealed to those that had registered since the commencement of the exercise to check with their registration centres for collection of the cards. He expressed concern over the long queues of prospective registered voters in Ilorin West Local Government, adding that the commission would do everything possible to improve on the situation. According to him, INEC had procured and distributed new Direct Data Capturing machines (DDC) to all the 36 states of the federation and Abuja to ease registration of voters. (New Telegraph)