Labor Party (LP) presidential candidate Mr Peter Obi has said it is essential to allow the more than 3 million Nigerian students who are eligible to vote in the February 25, 2023 election to exercise their constitutional right to choose their leaders.
Obi also expressed concern about the inability of some Nigerians in some states, particularly Lagos State, to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
This was stated by the presidential candidate on Monday night during a meeting with observers from the European Union, Electoral Observation Mission MOE-UE.
Answering a question about the fate of some 3.5 million students who may not be able to exercise their right to vote due to school activities, Obi said: “I am sure INEC will do the right thing. I am sure that the universities will give them the respite to go vote.
“It’s important because it’s about their future. This election is about these young people and I am sure they will be allowed to vote. We will continue to bring it up to you as we go along.”
Commenting on the challenges voters are seeing in some areas to collect their PVCs, he said: “For me now, the important thing is to ensure that people collect their PVCs. There are some areas where people still complain about being denied their PVCs for one reason or another.
“INEC must pay attention to them. But I must give credit to INEC for extending the date for PVC collection, but again I urge them to make sure people collect their PVC. This election is very important for Nigerians. It is an existential choice. We want everyone who has registered to participate.”
The LP’s national chairman, lawyer Julius Abure, who also spoke on the issue, said: “It is the young who bear the brunt of mismanagement, so this election is about them. When voter registration was underway, most college students were home and registered at home.
“Right now, they are in school and if they stay in school during the election, it means they will be denied the opportunity to vote. We are asking that a week’s break be given as a holiday so that they can go vote. You would have excluded them if they have their PVC and are not in the place where they can use it to vote.
“In general, the country is insecure. We want security to improve before and during the election because if security is not guaranteed, we may have a situation where legitimate voters are afraid to go out and vote on election day. There must be guarantees that security will be strengthened.
“So we need the security agencies, the commander in chief, to continuously give assurances that security will be guaranteed on that day. And also, the security agencies themselves because we have had situations where security agencies are used to rig elections or create an enabling environment to rig elections or, in some cases, facilitate vote buying.”
Earlier, EOM-EU Chief Observer Barry Andrews had told party leaders that his visit was a routine visit in order to interact with the main presidential candidates and other stakeholders in the presidential election on 25th of February.
He said: “It is part of our job, we are having meetings with all the stakeholders in this very important election here in Nigeria. Today we have met with important participants, including LP. We also meet with APC and PDP candidates. We also met today with the Foreign Minister, the Vice President, civil society and the media. What we are doing is trying to develop an image of transparency, inclusiveness and credibility of the elections. And we will report it, two days after the election in a preliminary report at a press conference on February 27.
“We are in the early stages. We have been coming together and people have a collective sense of digging into the very root of democracy and we think we can play a role, but we won’t come to any conclusion until after the election,” he said.