Editor’s note: In this article, Olasupo Abideen raised concerns about the high rate of uncollected PVC while defending voters by urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for perfect collection.

As a Nigerian who is passionate about the electoral process and willing to participate, he begins to wonder if the whole dynamic electoral process is designed to frustrate him or make participation a kind of survival of the fittest.

This is probably the easiest way to describe the entire process of being a registered voter and eligible to vote on Election Day.

INEC recently announced that there are 6.7 million uncollected PVCs in 17 states and the FCT. Photo: INEC
Source: Facebook

From the process of visiting the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), usually some distance from residential areas, joining the queues and eventually registering.

After enduring conflicting information about the availability of his Permanent Voter Credential (PVC), he eventually takes the trouble to visit the INEC office to collect it and receives the answer that the voter credential is not ready yet.

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This is the situation for many Nigerians who remain determined to contest the 2023 general election as the challenge with PVC collection persists.

With close to 20 million permanent voter cards not collected since 2011 and another more than nine million new ones registered between June 2021 and July 2022, the least Nigerians deserve is an effective way to ensure that all eligible voters collect their cards and participate in the 2023 general elections.

The commission itself in recent times has continued to lament the low collection of PVC in several states, which remains a matter of great concern.

For example, there are around 1.7 million uncollected PVCs in Lagos State, around 500,000 uncollected cards in Abuja, and over 160,000 people in Kogi State who have abandoned their cards at INEC offices. in the state. This is the case in all 36 states of Nigeria.

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Undoubtedly, the reprehensible attacks on the INEC offices in some parts of the country have not helped the preparatory cause of the elections with more than 50 offices attached in the last three years.

However, the threshold for holding credible elections must not be lowered, especially in the area of ​​citizen participation.

While it is the responsibility of registered voters to visit the INEC office at their local government of registry to collect the cards, as INEC does not distribute voter cards to people’s residents, the commission must develop an effective strategy to ensure that the process is smooth.

There is no doubt that INEC has recently taken advantage of the use of innovative technology to promote transparency and ensure efficiency in its process.

With complete data on registered voters and printed PVCs, the commission, with the support of CSOs, can develop a strategic standard of operation to make the process easier and faster.

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This intent will first allow for the accurate identification of eligible voters whose PVCs are in the INEC office through their names, phone numbers, email, and location from 2011 to date. In this regard, a mass email or short message service (SMS) can be sent to potential voters who have yet to pick up their PVCs with information such as local government, districts or addresses where they could pick up their cards.

Although SMS rollout is said to be rolled out, this needs to be decentralized to all locations and all citizens who have yet to collect their PVCs since 2011.

This will certainly go a long way in informing citizens that their cards are ready for pickup and the exact location where they can be picked up, while alleviating the challenges of endless visiting wrong locations or encountering unavailable PVCs.

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Basically, the idea is not to “spoon-feed” the potential voter as some may claim, but to make participation easier and more seamless.

The citizens themselves must show zeal and willingness to participate in the process by asking the right questions and consulting through the corresponding channels, especially with regard to PVC Collection, INEC Local Government Offices, Registration Area Centers, location of the polling stations and contacts of the electoral officials at your address. place of electoral participation.

Beyond this, the electoral management body must continue to provide accurate and timely information primarily to counter misinformation about the entire process. This will build some level of trust with citizens and further promote transparency as all eyes seem to be on the commission to deliver its most credible process since its inception.

With 29 million voters, which is barely 35% of the 84 million registered voters in 2019, there is an opportunity to ensure that the future of Nigeria is not decided by a minority of its voters, which are only about 10% of the total population.

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In 2023, Nigerians have a chance to use the power of their PVCs to vote for the right leaders and all stakeholders, especially INEC, should up their game so as not to undermine citizens’ confidence as elections approach. .

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