…Reveals plans to tackle Card Reader challenges
With barely 100 days to next year’s general election, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ebonyi State has expressed worry over the inability of many registered voters in the state to claim their Permanent Voter Cards.
While addressing journalists during an interactive session at the commission’s headquarters in Abakaliki, the State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Godswill Obioma, disclosed that as at September 2018, only about 24, 154 registered voters, who registered during the 2014/2015 and 2017 CVR (Continuous Voter Registration) exercise out of a total of 124, 514 prospective voters, have collected their PVCs, thereby leaving a total of 100, 360 unclaimed PVCs in its possession.
He gave the new figure that accrued to their data after registration in the first quarter of the exercise in 2018 to be about 58, 247, disclosing that collection was yet to commence.
While noting that the commission has devised a means to ensure that the PVCs get to their owners before the general election through an effective partnership with stakeholders in the 171 wards across the state, Obioma declared: “These figures imply that if all the PVCs for the entire 2017 and 2018 CVR exercise are collected by their legitimate owners, Ebonyi State is expected to witness a larger voter turnout in 2019 poll compared to what obtained in 2015 General elections.
“I therefore enjoin all the stakeholders to step up the public enlightenment campaign for the electorate to turnout en-masse to collect their PVCs before the general election. This would ensure increased voter strength of Ebonyi State.”
Obioma, who is a professor of mathematics, listed some achievements of his office to include the conversion of the commission’s former garage to a pavilion, training of NYSC members and equipping of the commission’s ICT (Information Communication Technology) centre.
He noted that if the electorate fails to collect their PVCs, all the efforts made towards the sensitization for the CVR exercise would amount to an exercise in futility.
“Hence, there is an urgent need to continue emphasizing the essence of PVC collection, which is the only stamp of authority that empowers registered voters to vote and be voted for,” he added.
The REC said his commission would soon publish all particulars of the 27 candidates from the14 political parties gunning for senatorial positions in the state and the 48 candidates from the 16 political parties contesting the Federal House of Representatives and those of the governorship and state House of Assembly offices in compliance with the provisions of section 31(3) of the Electoral Act 2010(as amended).
He said he was elated by the fact that nobody has contested the names submitted to the commission by all the political parties at the moment, just as he disclosed that the commission would strictly monitor and ensure that political parties and candidates adhere strictly to the rules and regulations guiding political campaigns as the ban for campaigns would be lifted on Sunday, November 18, 2018.
The commission, he said, would engage the services of some experts in modern technology called Registration Area Technologists to respond speedily to any issue of failure or malfunctioning in the Card Readers across the 171 wards in the state.
The INEC commissioner stated that unlike in 2015, Smart Card Readers that would be used for the 2019 general election have been upgraded from 500 mili-ampere to 3000 mili-ampere voltages to guarantee longer life span for at least three days. While warning that proxies will not collect PVCs, Obioma cautioned politicians to desist from vote-buying and selling, saying it is a terrible virus in the Nigerian electoral system that must be tamed.