*INEC mum as collection reverts to LGA offices
**Lack of funds may stall further extension – INEC source
** Local chiefs not warehousing PVCs in Lagos — INEC
**Akeredolu declares tomorrow work- free day
**Ogun declares Tuesday, Wednesday work-free days
**No INEC staff, Apete, Ayegun, Awotan residents lament
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dayo Johnson, Adesina Wahab, Olayinka Ajayi, James Ogunnaike, Adeola Badru
THE collection of the Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs at the wards ended yesterday with bottlenecks experienced in some centres leading to calls by some stakeholders for the extension of the exercise.
From today, according to the schedule of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, those who are yet to pick up their voter’s cards will have to go to the local government headquarters to do so and they have up till January 29 to collect the cards.
Although many centres recorded scanty turnout of registrants, yesterday, many centres still had huge turnout with some registrants unable to collect their cards.
Lack of funds may stall further extension – INEC source
Sources at the headquarters of the electoral body told Vanguard that INECdid not extend the collection of the cards at the wards because of paucity of funds. We have over 8800 wards. There is no budget for allowances paid to the electoral officers for distribution of the cards,” the source said and urged those who are yet to collect their PVCs to approach the LGA offices between today and January 29.
This came amid allegations that some traditional rulers and district heads were warehousing cards and helping the commission to distribute them.
No INEC staff, Apete- Ayegun-Awotan residents lament
Residents of Apete-Ayegun-Awotan in Ido Local Government Area of Oyo State have lamented what they called lackadaisical attitude of staff of the INEC for not showing up to distribute the PVCs.
Apete-Ayegun-Awotan is a ward in Ido Local Government Area of the state, which comprises 12 polling units.
During a visit to Saint Peter School, Apete Primary School, Idi Oro Elewe and I.D.C. Primary School, Awotan, yesterday, Vanguard that there was no INEC staff to distribute the PVCs to the registrants at the listed places.
A cross-section of residents interviewed said that since the commencement of the exercise, INEC officials designated for the distribution of the PVCs had not visited more than four times.
One of the registrants, Mr. Kunle Adebayo, said: “We are calling on the REC to ensure that members of their staff are up and doing. We came out to collect the PVC, yet no INEC official showed up.”
Another resident, Mathew Adeola, complained: “There is no organisation at all. There are two windows the officials are using.
“They are supposed to make use of one for collecting, and the other for distribution but they use both for the same thing thereby making the whole place look rowdy. We are so careful in case there is a pick pocket around.
“There is supposed to be the presence of security around this place. Street boys are already sending threats that are influenced by party sentiments. The presence of police will curtail their excesses and put them in check,” she said.
Also, Kemi Adetola said: “The exercise, which is supposed to start by 8.00a.m was delayed in most of the centres. And even when the officials showed up, there were no PVCs to distribute.”
An INEC official, who pleaded anonymity, blamed the residents for the slow distribution.
According to him, many people did not have their registration slips. “That is part of what is giving us challenges in distributing PVCs.”
Tough nut in Alimosho
For some people in Agbado/ Oke Odo Local Council Development Area in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State, collecting their PVCs at the designated venue, a primary school in Agbado Area of the city, is more than an herculean task.
The mammoth crowd that thronged the venue daily and the slow pace of work, have left many prospective voters abandoning the process.
A journalist in one of the national dailies, who gave his name as Adesina, narrated how he had been to the place twice without getting his card.
“The first time I came, the crowd was just too much and we were asked to write our names on a sheet of paper. By the time I wrote mine, I was 400 on the list. With the slow pace of how they attend to people, it might take two days to get to me. I left without wasting much time.
“The second time I went there, I was able to get in and at the end of the day, I was told that my PVC has not been printed and that I should go to the headquarters of Alimosho Local Government in Ikotun at the end of January. That was the fate of many people that went there and many left in annoyance. We were told that some cards are with community leaders and some politicians. How the cards got to such people, we don’t know,” he said.
An engineer, who gave his name as Banji, was taken aback when he was told that he should go to Egbe-Idimu to check for his card.
“I live in Meiran area which is under Agbado Oke Odo LCDA and I would not know why I should be directed to an area outside where I registered. To me, the situation is like they don’t want as many people as possible to get their cards and manipulation of elections starts from exercises such as this,” he said.
Local chiefs not warehousing PVCs in Lagos — INEC
Speaking on the issue, the Lagos INEC described allegations that local chiefs otherwise called Baales are warehousing PVCs and are also helping the commission in distribution as “obnoxious.”
Lagos INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje in a phone chat with Vanguard, said the allegation was obnoxious and meant to distract the commission.
He said: “I am not aware of it. It is strange to me because we have 20 local government areas in Lagos, which of the local governments in particular? Sometimes journalists are not helping matters. They should help probe information to help the system work effectively.
“As far as I am concerned, how do we investigate it? As you and I know we have so many Baales across Lagos. It has no basis and such an allegation is obnoxious with the sole aim to distract us.”
Akeredolu declares tomorrow work- free day
Meanwhile Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has approved Tuesday, January 24, 2023 a work-free day to enable all eligible voters in the state collect their PVCs
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, urged civil servants, private workers, artisans, and other well-meaning residents of the state who are eligible voters to seize the opportunity and collect their PVCs.
He called on the people to place a premium on the collection of cards to enable them exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections.
“The importance of the forthcoming elections cannot be over emphasised. There is an urgent need for us to address the low rate of PVCs collection in the South-West.
“Beyond partisan lines, it is imperative that our people understand that the PVC is their license to enthrone desired political leadership.
“We are constrained to take this decision to enable our people to take this advantage and collect their PVCs. It’s important that we all exercise our civic responsibilities.
The governor added that “All political appointees and other government functionaries are also directed to return to their local governments and wards to encourage our people to collect their PVCs.
Ogun declares Tueday, Wednesday as work-free days
In like manner, the Ogun State Government has declared January 24 and 25 as work-free days for workers in the state public service to enable them collect their PVCs according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin.
“Following the extension of Permanent Voter Cards collection till Sunday, January 29, 2023, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Governor Dapo Abiodun has graciously approved two days – Tuesday, 24th and Wednesday, 25th January as work-free days to enable public servants to collect their PVCs from their respective local governments.
“Governor Abiodun also enjoined all executive members of public markets and private establishments in the state to allow flexibility in their schedules for residents to use the opportunity to visit the Independent National Electoral Commission’s offices or collection centres where they registered to collect their PVCs.”
The governor said that voting is a civic responsibility, and all eligible citizens must be allowed to exercise their rights to choose who governs them.
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