Ahead of the general election, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, on Wednesday stated that the commission had distributed over 44million Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) as at Tuesday just as he said over 90 per cent of the PVCs are in the states awaiting collection.
Speaking at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room dialogue session with INEC’s accredited observers and political parties in Abuja, Jega, who was represented by a National Commissioner, Amina Zakari, stated that by Wednesday evening all the cards would have been in the states awaiting collection.
He said: “We have distributed over 70 per cent of the PVCs, we had no problems with the smaller states, only in the larger states of Lagos, Kano and Borno State which we are still working hard to overcome. All the card readers and the batteries which are supposed to last for twelve hours have all been deployed to the states.
We have also deployed all the non-sensitive materials while the ballot papers are being received and kept in the Central Bank in all the states.
“Reports from the security agencies have given us the go ahead to go ahead and conduct elections in the three states of the North-east states which has been under the threats of the insurgents. We have begun testing the card readers. All of them are in the country. Training and retraining of staff and adhoc staff. Election risk management tool has been deployed as well to ensure violence free elections.
“We have deployed insensitive material to the field and we have been tracking them. Ballot papers and sensitive materials are being received. On security we have the election risk management system.
“On logistics, we have signed a memorandum with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to provide transportation for election staff. What INEC needs from civil society is the needed support. On volunteerism for distribution of cards, we invite more persons to join us in distribution.”
Earlier, the Executive Director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Clement Nwnkwo, had called on INEC to extend the period for the collection of the PVCs and urged the government to provide additional funds for the commission.
His words: “INEC should extend collection by a few more day’s. INEC says it spends N300 million each day of distribution. The federal government should provide additional resources for INEC. Government should show same anxiety as that of Nigerians. Seems to be a lukewarm response from the government over challenges of INEC.
“Also is the debate going on and protest at INEC offices, it’s unnecessary distraction. We need to realize that the world is watching what is going on in Nigeria. Civil society is observing too and if we observe that if there are even judges who fail to understand the constitutional role they should play, and in their actions provoke mass crimes, we will gather the evidence and send to the International Criminal Court (ICC). All parties must be accountable for their actions. as civil society we are looking forward to the election. This meeting is to encourage observers who will be deployed for this election.
Catherine Weiss, the Senior Governance Advisor of the British Department for International Development (DFID Nigeria), said the world was watching Nigeria and that the country’s success in this election would be Africa’s success.
On his part, Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), stated that it was the constitutional duty of INEC to fix the dates for elections.
He said: “It is strictly with INEC. It is not within the powers of the National Security Adviser (NSA) or the presidency to fix dates for elections in the country. We have to support INEC on this. Any attempt, directly or indirectly to arm twist INEC into postponing this election must be fought. We must warn lawyers and judges not to frustrate the electoral process.
“If the presidency wants to postpone this election, do it, but don’t join INEC so Nigerians can join issues with you. All those demonstrating for postponement, tell them the PVCs are here with us. We must encourage and support INEC to go ahead withhold the election. The essence off having election early is so we can have a time for a rerun if necessary. Two thirds of 36 states is what the law requires for a president to win election.
“INEC has assisted the enemies of democracy by allowing the undue delay in the production of the PVCs. We have in the last few days seen several cases filed seeking to postpone the election, all those demonstrating should know that the PVCs are available and should go and collect them.”