By Tukur Musa
No permanent voter’s card, no voting!!! This was the statement made by INEC. But unfortunately this is the worst mistake INEC is making in its preparations for for the forthcoming elections. It is with dismay that I would like to express my opinion that a lot of irregularities have been committed by the nation’s top authority responsible for conducting elections.
Section 16 of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, clearly states that issuance of voters’ card is the responsibility of the Independent National Electoral Commission; the propriety right in the voters’ card is vested in INEC. But from all indications, INEC has once again scruine things off. The just concluded distribution of permanent voters’ card was faulted with a lot of errors and irregularities. In some local governments here in Kano state, the distribution of PVC’s was just a leisure tale story. majority of the wards were not issued with the PVC’s either by errors made by INEC officials in 2010 during the registration exercise or careless habit by the so called independent electoral commission that lead to missing of the recorded voters’ data.
However, in trying to wash the dirt and bring back its identity, INEC commenced new voters’ registration for those who are ineligible in 2010, those who didn’t register, and those whose names were missing from INEC records. This is a welcome development, in the sense that every Nigerian eligible for elections can register. But foul was made earlier. The fact that for instance in Kano state, Kano emirate council through Sa’in Kano Alhaji Wada Waziri, decries that only 30% of eligible voters in Kano had either collect their PVC’s or registered, thereby leaving 70% wondering their final fate three days to final date scheduled for the registration exercise…
One begin to wonder if INEC is sincere in conducting free and fair elections capable of gaining acceptability within and abroad Nigeria? How sincere is INEC in 2015 elections? A lot of other questions were surrounded in my minds with no answers.
The fact that voters’ registration and distribution of PVC which was a major step in 2015 general elections were hampered with a lot of irregularities and accusations, thereby mark the beginning of fade away of the confidence and trust people start having on INEC from all perfectives, but the reverse is the case. From all indications this voters’ registration exercise is a very serious crucial issue: the large turnout of people witnessed despite all the difficult situations of living people are facing, but came out en-masse to register demonstrate their intention of having the final and best political weapon.
A lot of accusations and faults were vested on INEC: one of which is how only one center is allocated to each chapter for the registration exercise. Professor Jega/INEC should note that presently in Kano state there was a ward that constitute up-to 30 polling unit. How can all the people from this area register all in one place, considering the situation of common transportation and other barriers? Another accusation was a situation where some INEC officials are accused of collecting money from individuals before issuing them their permanent voters’ card or register new people, though INEC categorically states that it has apprehended some of its officials accused of receiving money from individual citizens before doing their obligatory duty and thereby handed them over to the police further actions.
To minimize some of the measure problems witnessed and accusations, INEC should extend the dates of the voters’ registration exercise up till the time any single eligible voter have accessed his temporary or permanent voters’ card. Secondly, INEC should unconditionally uplift the statement early issued “no permanent voters card, no election” considering the time frame of the elections which is expected mostly in less than 13 weeks, and considering the difficulties, irregularities and accusations faced from all angles of the society. INEC should once again utilizes this as lesson and thereby mark it as reference for its upcoming schedules.
Tukur Musa is a level 400 student of Mass Communications Department, Bayero University, Kano.