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Abuja, Nigeria – The Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA), Partners for Electoral Reform (PER) and Youth Alliance on Constitution & Electoral Reform (YACORE) is observing the Phase 11 distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) undertaken by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the following states; Yobe, Bauchi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Kwara, Anambra, Ebonyi, Ondo, Oyo, Delta, Cross rivers and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This report represents an overview of our observation of day one of the exercise.
The distribution of the PVCs commenced in most polling units in the 12 states under review. However, the exercise witnessed late commencement in several states, our observers across the 12 states reported an average opening of 10am with Oyo state as an exceptional case. Reports from Oyo state indicates the exercise commenced as late as 1pm with field reports citing IMG Primary school, Oke-Ado, Molete axis, Ibadan, G&P bus stop and Idi-Ose, Ward 5, Akinyele LGA etc as examples.
Non distribution of Permanent Voters Card
We observe the distribution exercise was not conducted in several polling units across the 12 states. Registered voters who reported to the polling units turned back in disappointment as there was so distribution officer present at the polling unit to distribute the cards or offer an official explanation for the non distribution of the PVCs. For instance, no distribution officer was on ground in the following polling units in the FCT, PU 37/02/10/004 Living water, Kubwa, PU 001, Yaba Ward in Abaji. In Oyo state, no distribution officer was sighted in PU 012 Agbowo, Olomo, Iwo road, Zik hall, University of Ibadan and Ward 12, Ibadan north east.
A different scenario played out in PU 010, Ukwakpu Market Square, Ward 08 Kpirikpri, Ebonyi state, where distribution materials were sighted at the polling unit but no distribution officer present as at 2:22pm.
These highlighted incidents could heighten voter apathy if not addressed immediately. We urge INEC to investigate these cases to ensure eligible voters are not disenfranchised from voting in 2015. We also request INEC to publicly explain the reason behind the non distribution of the PVCs in those polling units.
We observed the presence of only one distribution officer in reviewed polling units. The distribution process was rowdy particularly in polling units with large number of registered voters. We witnessed undue interference of party agents. Party agents also provided support to distribution officers particularly assistance in the distribution of the Permanent Voters Cards. For instance, in Afikpo South 03, Emekwe Unit,Ebonyi State, the assistance rendered by a former councillor and party member to the distribution officer led to a fracas.
There were also reports of shortage in attestation forms in reviewed polling units, with the increased number of citizens reporting loss of their temporary voters card, we call on INEC to make available more attestation forms in polling units.
Contrary to the provisions of the INEC guidelines for the distribution of the PVC forbidding collection by proxy, our mission witnessed several incidents of collection by proxy. Examples are PU 054, BACAS and PU 018, Nassarawa Primary School in Bauchi state.
We implore INEC and relevant stakeholders to scale up voters education program to guarantee maximum participation in the exercise.
This preliminary report details some of the observed trends in day one of the 2nd Phase of PVC distribution exercise.
Head, Research, Policy & Advocacy
Chair, Partners for Electoral Reform
National Coordinator, YACORE