The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday, released details of the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs collection rate, showing that 75.94% of registered voters across the country have taken delivery of the crucial voting material.
52,275,367 voters of the registered 68,833,476 voters, according to INEC’s computation, had collected the PVCs as at yesterday.
The details, however, showed a continuing disparity in the PVC collection rates with indications that collection of the PVCs were significantly higher in the North than in the South.
The revelation came as the All Progressives Congress, APC, Senate caucus, yesterday, alleged fresh plans by the Presidency allegedly working in cahoots with the Senate leadership to ensure that the PVCs and card readers were not used for the elections. The caucus alleged that the ultimate agenda was to scuttle the rescheduled elections.
The figures for PVC collection showed that Zamfara, Nasarawa and Gombe states with 97.51%, 96.29% and 95.05% respectively have the highest collection rates.
Ogun with 40.86% had the lowest collection rate and was trailed by the Federal Capital Territory with 61.42% and Lagos with 62.4% trailed in that order.
The geopolitical collection rates showed the North-west with 88.66% collection rate, and the South-West having the lowest collection rate with 63.23%.
PVCs: How the regions stand
The geopolitical distribution rate is as follows:
lNorth East – 82.95%
lNorth West – 88.66%
lNorth Central – 73.78%
lSouth East – 73.35%
lSouth West – 63.20%
lSouth South – 74.09%
No explanation was available for the disparity in the collection rates among the geopolitical regions and Mr. Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to National Chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega was not available for comments on the development as his telephone lines were switched off.
APC senators were led to the press briefing by the Minority Leader, Senator George Akume who claimed that the Presidency manipulated the INEC Chairman, Jega, through security agencies to shift
The hastily arranged briefing was in response to the summons given to Jega to appear before the Senate today. They said the summons was part of plans by government to compel the INEC chairman not to apply the card readers and the PVCs in the conduct of the polls.
They described the action as part of a plot to emplace an Interim Government.
“There is no country in the world whose leader can sit down and do what we are doing here, to undermine our democracy. We have nothing like Interim Government in our constitution and of course, there is nothing like coup in our constitution and therefore, we must do the right thing.
“The President himself has sworn to protect this country and therefore, where he is going wrong, he must be corrected. Elections must be held as rescheduled, it is important that INEC must do this in order to avoid unpleasant consequences.
“Nigeria is a huge and complex society, culturally, structurally, and all hands must be on deck to avoid the Somalia experience,” they warned.
Senator Akume said the use of card readers will add value to the conduct of the elections.
“We are talking about free and fair elections. Time has passed when people carry ballot boxes and papers to their respective rooms, thumb-print and in the following days, we have senators, we have members of the House of Representatives, we have governors and we have the president. The whole world is watching this county. We have become a laughing stock, we are becoming a banana republic.
They accused the Presidency of using soldiers to intimidate their leaders.
“If we don’t have troops to provide security cover, it is appropriate to say that we have troops who can intimidate, harass, embarrass and humiliate members of the opposition. It has happened to the national leader of our party and a governor under our party platform. The fact that we are in the opposition does not make us any security risk. We are even more patriotic than those who are in government.
“We want elections and card readers must be applied; they must be used, otherwise, the elections can never be free and fair. If Ghana can get it right, using the card reader, why can’t the giant of Africa do it? If Sierra Leone can do it, even Liberia, why can’t Nigeria do it? We are waiting for INEC to do it; INEC must do it. Card readers are a must to ensure free, credible, acceptable elections. To do otherwise won’t be acceptable,” Akume added.
He continued: “We note with regret that in far away London, the National Security Adviser alluded to the possible postponement of the elections on the ground that the Permanent Voters’ Cards, PVCs had not been sufficiently distributed to the people.
“The production of PVCs we know, is the responsibility of INEC. They distribute to the states and the people also come forward to receive these cards. As political parties, we also have a role to play in ensuring that Nigerians, particularly our supporters have access to the PVCs.
“They are there for people to pick. INEC has produced over 67 million PVCs and of course, every Nigerian who is registered has the responsibility to come forward for them. There was the National Council of State meeting and the issue discussed there was the elections and from records, we know that all the former Heads of State supported holding of the election as scheduled. Former chief justices, those who know the law also supported the holding of the elections. But INEC later said the elections could not hold on the flimsy ground that the service chiefs said they could not provide security. Security for what?
“We have over 774 local government areas in this country and serious security breaches in the North-East are registered in only 14 local governments and therefore, there was no reasonable ground to shift the elections. We recall that in 1999, there was no election in Bayelsa during the first round of voting, elections were later held.
“Under normal circumstances, we believe the situation is also normal now, these affected areas should have been isolated for the purpose of holding elections at a later date. But this was not to be. We are all learned people, educated people to know that elections have been held in Columbia, which is perpetually at war with itself. Elections have been held in Egypt, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Mali, Tunisia and other countries. Nigeria cannot be an exception.”
“Yesterday, the reason given was lack of adequate distribution of PVCs, later, it turned to inability to provide security cover and we wonder that the multi-national force that has been assembled to fight Boko Haram is just 7000, including the Nigerian troop and we have a troop level of over 100,000 in this country. Why is it not possible to hold elections with adequate security cover for those who are supposed to do their jobs constitutionally? We believe that there is serious manipulation and a deliberate attempt to undermine and to manipulate the democratic institutions and structures,” Akume further said.