The Independent National Electoral Commission says it will print 16,500,192 Permanent Voters’ Cards and make them available for collection by citizens ahead of the 2019 general elections.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the regular meeting of the commission with the Resident Electoral Commissioners on Thursday in Abuja.
Yakubu said that for a period of 16 months, from April 27, 2017 to August 31, it registered a total of 14,551,482 new voters for its nationwide Continuous Voter Registration.
He said if the figure was added to the existing register of 69,720,350 voters, it meant that the nation now had a voter population of 84,271,832.
He explained that the figure might drop slightly after the commission must have run the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System.
He said: “In addition to fresh registration, the Commission is also processing 769,917 requests for intra and inter-State transfers as well as 1,178,793 requests for replacement of lost, damaged or cards with misspelt names or incorrect personal details of voters as required by law.
“This means that the Commission has to print a total of 16,500,192 PVCs and make them available for collection by citizens ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“Already, the Commission has printed the PVCs for those registered in 2017 and delivered them to states for collection.
“I can also confirm that the PVCs for 2.7 million voters registered in the first quarter of 2018 have been printed and will be delivered to the states next week.
“We wish to reassure Nigerians that every registered voter will have his/her PVC available for collection before the general election.
“The collection of PVCs will continue until one week to the 2019 general elections. We shall ensure that the process of collection is simplified with minimum inconvenience to citizens.
“We will also ensure that information about the collection of PVCs is widely disseminated.
“Already, we are partnering with telecommunication companies to send bulk text (sms) messages to citizens for the collection of their PVCs.”
He added that after running the AFIS, the Commission would present a detailed analysis of the voter register, not only by state and gender, but also by age group and occupation.
Yakubu appealed to Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the ongoing nationwide display of the particulars of new voters for claims and objections as required by law.
He said: “By doing so, citizens will be helping the Commission to further clean up the register and purge it of all ineligible registrants as required by Sec. 12 of the Electoral Act.
“The Commission has consistently shared information on the voter registration exercise with Nigerians by publishing the figures as well as detailed breakdown by states and gender.”
Yakubu said that the meeting would consider consequential steps the commission needed to take as it continues to prepare for the 2019 general elections.
He said that the Commission would also consider options to fast track the distribution of the PVCs before general elections, including the devolution of collection to Ward level.
He said: “We however wish to restate the Commission’s policy that no PVCs will be collected by proxy. Registered voters must endeavour to collect their cards personally.
“We are working hard to ensure that no PVC goes into the wrong hands.
On the commission’s preparation for the Osun State Governorship election, Yakubu said all processes and activities were going according to our timetable and schedule of activities released almost a year ago.
He said: “The last major activity was the presentation of the Voters’ Register to each of the 48 political parties fielding candidates in the election, giving detailed information of the distribution of the 1.6 million registered voters by Local Government Areas, Wards and Polling Units.”
Yakubu said that the Commission had been working on a multi-faceted approach to the menace of vote-buying and other sundry electoral malpractices.
He said: “We will introduce changes to the election-day administration of our polling units, in addition to the electronic tracking of our sensitive materials.
“We are discussing with the security agencies on a more vigorous enforcement of the law against voter-inducement.
“Furthermore, we are working with the Inter-Party Advisory Council and other stakeholders on voter education and sensitisation.
This is the third election we are conducting in Osun State since the 2015 general elections.
“The first was the Ife Central State Constituency and the Osun West Senatorial District. We wish to reassure the people of Osun state that their votes will continue to count.”
He assured Nigerians that the country’s elections would continue to meet the requirements of laws, processes and procedures as well as international best practice.