In claiming insecurity as the direct reason for the shift of the elections, the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega may have stated the obvious. However, many stakeholders are not ignorant of the internal failures of the commission, principally, the alleged failure of the commission to deliver important materials needed for the election according to schedule.
The most notable of the election materials in this category is the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, which INEC has failed to deliver to all voters four years after the commission expended more than N50 billion on the data capture exercise.
This report reviews the situation in some of the states.
By Peter Okutu, Boluwaji Obahopo, John Mkom, Tom Moses, Marie-Therese Nanlong & Abel Daniel
A substantial proportion of voters in Kaduna State are yet to receive their PVCs according to a survey conducted by Vanguard over the weekend.
The worst affected areas are in the Southern parts of the state, where it was estimated that 150 out of the 1,750 polling units in the zone were as of weekend still waiting for the PVCs.
In Soba and Zaria urban, it was gathered that majority of those who got their PVCs were those that registered late.
But officials of the INEC, who asked not be identified, denied ploys to deliberately disenfranchise some voters, said the delay was caused by logistic problems.
The administrative secretary INEC Taraba office Ahmed Baba disclosed this to Vanguard, adding that the INEC state office also extended the distribution of the PVCs from local government areas to the wards to fast track the process.
Baba further disclosed that the state office has completed training of Supervising Presiding Officers SPOs who have been deployed to the local government areas to train the presiding officers.
At the Taraba state INEC office it discovered that the list of ad-hoc staff for elections has been pasted and the office was crowded with applicants who were there to verify their names.
The Akwa-Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner-REC Mr. Austin Okojie, confirmed the distribution as at last Friday of 1,338,413 PVCs out of the 1,640,780 PVCs sent to the state by the commission representing 95 per cent distribution as of Friday.
He also said that the commission was in possession of 3,600 ballot boxes required for the 3,823 Voting Points in the state. The state INEC office has also received 2,721 Card Readers.
The REC was, however, disappointed with the theft of some PVCs saying that the theft was of no value to the thieves.
The INEC office in Lokoja has distributed 800,000 out of the 1,317,095 meant for the state the REC, Hussain Halilu Pai, told Vanguard.
According to him the commission has received 3,029 smart card readers.
“The card readers are being configured by the commission and would be distributed to local government offices for onward distribution to polling units,” he said.
Halilu further disclosed that the commission has so far carried out 445 inter state transfers and 332 intra state transfers, saying that the commission is determined to ensure that all those that register for the election carry out their civic duties.
The INEC office in Ebonyi has distributed a total of 797,112 PVCs out the 1,712,073 received in the state.
And 3,366 PVCs were snatched from INEC staff who were distributing PVCs in Eka Awoke Registration Areas of Ikwo and Igbeagu III in Izzi local government areas of the state.
He pointed out that the Commission had put in place less than 10,000 staff and a number of non-sensitive materials have been received from INEC headquarters, Abuja, which had been distributed to LGAs and it has organized trainings at officers of different levels in preparation for the election.
The Rivers State REC, Mrs Gesila Khan, disclosed that about 80 per cent of registered voters in the state have collected their PVCs, adding that she received 2,990,056 PVCs and distributed 1,869,379.
About 14,000 PVCs, she also said were stolen.
On the stolen PVCs she appealled to.those holding them illegally to return them, stressing that there would be no way they could use them to rig the elections.
“I’m appealing to Rivers people because we have lost a lot of cards. We have lost more than 14,000 PVC’s and it’s one of the highest figures in the federation”.
INEC in Plateau State had as of last weekend distributed 78.9 per cent of the PVCs meant for the state according to the Head, Electoral Operations, Mr. Yagba Kumdu.
The Commission has also had series of dialogues with politicians, government officials, security agencies, the media, civil society organizations among others to sensitise them on the elections.
The Commission’s Head of Department, Voter Education/Publicity, Osaretin Imahiyereobo also disclosed the training of over 19,000 personnel including Supervisory Presiding Officers for the 274 Registration Areas in the State on the use of Card Readers.
Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers were as at weekend undergoing training. The commission has also organized a one-day capacity workshop on gender, persons with disabilities and youths to educate them on the roles they need to play for successful elections.
The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Godwin Kwanga, said the effort is an attempt to bridge the gap and create mutual partnership with all stakeholders in the electoral process.
INEC officials in Yola claim that a sizeable number of PVCs for the state have been distributed , even as more cards are yet to be collected.
Public Affairs Manager of the Commission, Mrs. Rifkatu Duku, told Vanguard in Yola at the weekend that Yola North and Yola South have the largest number of uncollected PVCs in the state.
She also disclosed that the commission had trained all its Electoral Officers, Supervisors, Presiding Officers and Assistant Presiding Officers for the election.
Mrs. Rifkatu Duku added that non sensitive materials have been distributed to all the 21 local government areas of the state ahead of the election.
THE Anambra State REC, Mr. Edwin Nwatarali, claimed that the state has achieved 74 per cent PVC collection as of February 5, 2015, four percentage up from the preceding week.
The exercise has been decentralized in the state and following frequent announcements in the churches and market places, the rate of collection has increased.
Nwatarali said the commission was ready for the election and warned those who do not have, PVCs, not to come to the polling stations on the day of the election to avoid being manhandled by security operatives.
The two day public holiday (Thursday and Friday) declared by the Niger state government to enable eligible voters collect their PVCs from designated centres has yielded positive result as those concerned turned out en mass to collect the cards.
At so many centres visited, people were seen collecting their cards spending less than 10 minutes while those who could not access theirs were directed to the appropriate centres.
At the INEC Office in Chanchaga local government area collection centre in Minna, an INEC official who was simply identified as Hauwa said that the turn out has been very impressive but that they are still expecting more cards.
She said “as you can see, the crowd has reduced, people are willing to exercise their franchise. Although, most people have travelled but we have given out over half of the cards”.
The head of voters’ education and publicity, at the INEC office in Nasarawa State, Mr. Ibrahim Abdullahi disclosed that the state office had received all the non sensitive materials and a substantive number of card readers.
498598 out of the 732,598 PVCs earmarked for voters in Ekiti State had been distributed as at last weekend.
INEC in the state has equally taken delivery of all 2,653 card readers it would use for the conduct of the coming general election in the state in the entire 2,311 voting points in the state.
The Ekiti REC, Mr. Sam Olumekun, who disclosed this said the 9,244 polling officials to be used for the election had also been prepared.
The Public Relations Officer of the commission, Mr Taiwo Gbadegesin said INEC is more than prepared to conduct a free and fair election asserting that the June 21, 2014 governorship election conducted in the state has given the state INEC an edge over others
“We don’t have serious challenges, the last year governorship election conducted in the state has given us an edge over others
The REC Halliru Tsmbuwal disclosed that 86.9 per cent of the 1,801,158 PVCs earmarked for the state have been received and distributed to the various local government areas for distribution.
He maintained that the commission has equally recruited 16,701 ad hoc-staff to complement the existing INEC staff to work for the 2015 general elections.