Godwin AJOM, Calabar
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decried the low turn-out for the collection of the Permanent Voters Cards(PVCs) in Cross River State.
According to the head of department, Voter Education and Publicity at the Commission’s office in Calabar, Anthonia Nwobi only 93,942 PVCs have been collected by registrants across the state as at January 8,2023.
She said “as at January 8 2023, the total number of PVCs collected was just 8,045 out of the 97,381 the commission received. Also, from the 2021/2022 fresh registration of PVCs we did in Cross River State totalling 233,481 cards, only 68,073 have been picked up.”
“We have low turnout for the collection of PVCs for people who did transfers as well. The commission received 70,474 applications for transfer in 2021/2022. So far, only 17,824 PVCs have been collected. This is too poor despite all our efforts at sensitizing the public.
According to Nwobi, rather than go to the various wards as announced by INEC, the people were clamouring for the commission to take PVC distribution to the polling units.
“People are not coming out enough in spite of the sensitization and intense awareness campaigns. In that regard, we have gone to the extent of deploying town criers within the residential areas to inform the people. Yet, the turnout is not encouraging at all.”
“There is the clamour for INEC to still devolve the PVC collection centres to polling units even though we have moved to the wards. Another challenge we are experiencing is the pressure by some persons on INEC distribution officers to release PVCs of their spouses, children, friends, and so on, which is against INEC’s policy.”
“If we are seen to break our own policy on collection of PVCs, the people would turn around to accuse the commission of compromise or making attempts to favour politicians. So, rather than stick to the rules, the people are seriously mounting pressure on the distribution officers to allow them collect their relatives’ PVCs. It is not possible.
“Lastly, people are impatient and would not want to comply with the PVC collection procedures at the centres. Right now, we are appealing to our people to work with us, support our efforts. We have the cards from 2019, 2021 and 2022 fresh registrations ready for collection.
“People should, please go to the ward distribution centre for collection. If they comply with the procedures, they would be attended to within 15 minutes or less and they would be able to go back to whatever they were doing. Besides, we are doing all these to avoid stampede,” she added.