The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been urged to expedite the process of collecting the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs.
A Governorship aspirant, Mr. Eyo Ekpo gave the advice during a chat with newsmen in Calabar on the extension of the deadline for registration of eligible voters across the country.
Ekpo, who served as Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice between 2003 and 2007, noted that the focus for many was to register rather than suggest ways to make collection of the PVCs faster and credible.
According to Ekpo, “Collection of PVC is one vulnerable area people are not talking about. The concern is more on getting people registered. But, we need to know why INEC has so many uncollected genuine printed voters’ cards still in their custody”.
“When we registered, we gave addresses and telephone numbers. One would expect that INEC would distribute the cards to our homes, or on market days, take advantage of those or send messages to our telephone numbers just to ensure effective distribution of the card.
He noted that with millions of voter’s cards left to be distributed to the real owners, corrupt politicians may scheme to buy peoples PVCs.
“There have been stories of sales of PVCs to the highest bidders. This should not be the case, INEC must adopt better ways to ensure distribution of PVCs”, he stressed.
On the extension of the voter registration exercise, he suggested that the exercise should be extended to December, noting “I am worried about the way INEC is going about the PVC registration exercise. I do not think that producing voter’s cards would require the time INEC is demanding”.
“In this day and age of information communication technology, INEC would not need 5 months to produce 25 million new Permanent Voters Cards. INEC should be transparent about its registration process and let Nigerians know exactly how long it takes to get a printed genuine PVC”, opined Ekpo.
He urged legislators at the State and National levels to impress upon the Commission to make its process transparent and avoid disenfranchising the people.
Ekpo averred “I am amused that legislators are allowing their constituents be disenfranchised effectively. The people are registering, yet the process is shrouded in mystery. In countries with advanced democracies, the citizens do not need a voters card only an ID because they are already on the voters’ register”.
On alternative to registration, the Governorship aspirant said “in Nigeria, we have our BVN, which is an impregnable form of identification. We can use that to vote. The BVN can be utilized to harmonize the way we identify Nigerians”.
While urging Nigerians to make use of the window provided to register, he enjoined INEC to intensify and expand its voter education so as not to disenfranchise the people.