…Urges residents to take advantage of the extension by INEC from 8.30am to 5.30pm, Wednesday to Sunday
…Governor says he won’t collect his own PVC until majority of Lagosians collect theirs
…Advises lawyers to also understand that they are citizens first and must contribute to nation building, not nation dismembering
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN on Tuesday appealed to all residents of the State who have registered but who have not collected their Permanent Voters Card to proceed to their polling units from tomorrow Wednesday by 8.30am to start collecting their PVCs.
The Governor who gave an update to State House Correspondents at Lagos House, Ikeja on what transpired at his meeting earlier in the day with the Independent National Electoral Commissioner in Lagos, Mr Akin Orebiyi, who paid him a courtesy visit, stated that he has been briefed about the readiness of INEC to commence the distribution exercise from Wednesday 8.30a.m to 5.30p.m in the evening daily and lasting till Sunday.
He stated that what has changed is that from the former Wards Collation Offices of INEC, the collection has been moved closer to the people at the primary places where they usually vote and which they are familiar with and irrespective of where they registered.
He also advised all those who have registered freshly to also proceed to the Polling Units where INEC has made arrangements to distribute the PVC to them, stressing that in case there are difficulties the state Government would continue to work with INEC towards providing solutions.
“I would keep an eye to see this new phase of the exercise. It allows the people the opportunity to vote and as I said, this exercise would start tomorrow. There is five days to do this, so that as many people as possible and hopefully everybody who is registered can get theirs at their poling units”, he stated.
The Governor also informed that he has been updated by the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner that the current registration exercise in Lagos has produced 5,905,000 people, adding that they are still doing some collation and that the final figure would be released when all is finally finished.
On what Lagosians should expect from the latest exercise, the Governor said It is for them to make out time and go out and make the sacrifice, adding that he would continue to insist that the umpire must get it right.
“I know people have tried. I have heard people say they have been to the places, the Ward Offices eight times and some four times and for me if you have made that kind of efforts, the real success must come in not giving up and I don’t give up and that is why I continue to address the issue”.
“I have made State broadcasts, I have granted interviews, I won’t give up on our people they must get a chance to participate so the people themselves must be willing to persist and to persevere so that they will get an opportunity to have a say in how their affairs are ordered by being able to vote at the next elections”, he explained.
The Governor appealed to such people to see the hitherto unsuccessful efforts as adversity and hopefully when they succeed they would have the final joy on election days to say they finally voted and that would be the real success story in the difficult exercise of collecting Permanent Voters Cards.
When reminded by a journalist that he was yet to collect his PVC, the Governor maintained that he won’t give up and that INEC has acknowledged that it has received quite a number of more voters cards and his is presumably amongst them.
Affirming that he would not go forward to collect the PVC until the majority of Lagosians collect theirs, he declared: “A captain does not leave a ship when there is crisis and I must make sure all the passengers are safely evacuated so I want Lagosians to get theirs first. As a Governor, I enjoy certain privileges but I can’t go ahead of them so I want them to take the fullest benefit of this exercise before I collect mine”.
Responding to a question on what his views are concerning the various court cases being instituted against the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate on his eligibility, the Governor said he has heard about some of the law suits but doesn’t really have the full details of what the claims are.
He added that to a large extent they tend to either seek to challenge certain things and that so long as they are valid challenges, they may be legitimate as no one can shut people away from the Courts.
“That is what I always say whether or not the claims they bring before the court has merit or not, but all of the judicial officers are Nigerians and they feel the impact of what is going on in their country and I always presume that they will act according to the law and do justice according to the law and not according to emotions and sentiments and in doing so also there is also a public policy consideration here that the nation must not go down because when all is said and done these is all about a contest to serve”.
Reminding all about the sacrifice made by those who fought for the restoration of democracy in the country, Governor Fashola said at the end of day, democracy and not personal interest should be allowed to triumph.
“It is a contest about ideas, one side believes that their ideas are better and another side believes that well this current idea can be improved upon. Ultimately let us all remember that it is about us and our people and our nation and people must remember that this democracy took some lives”.
“Some people lost lives so that we can exercise this liberty and freedom, people must remember yesterday and in so doing yesterday must become a compass for how to deal with today and how to proceed to the future and the liberties that we take for granted today were at one time things that we struggled to have and so for me it is democracy that must win in this contest of ideas”, Governor Fashola reiterated.
He emphasized the need for everybody to act responsibly and to see the forthcoming elections as a contest for service, adding that it is also important for people who are professionals to also understand that they are citizens first and they must contribute to nation building not nation dismembering.
He said for him no matter how persistent a client is, a lawyer’s training also tells him to honestly advise a client to say if the job is a dirty one and he should not do it, noting that in the course of his professional career, there are cases that he has rejected because he saw that the claims that the clients wanted to agitate were not meritorious and “I said look, no court is going to grant you this and I won’t argue it so you can look for another professional to do it for you”
“I also belief members of the legal profession will act responsibly and this is really a test of our love for our country. Whether we put our country’s interest above personal interest or vice versa? But ultimately democracy should win, the people should win. There are so many things that are defining about this election”.
“If the existing order is preserved by the will of the people then so be it. If also the advocates of change have the day, then so be it but it also must mean that in that situation if the advocates of change have the day it also means that Nigerians want to try something else, it is not that they dislike anybody and you know it means for the first time as a people and as a country we have completed the cycle. We would have changed a government that we think has not given us what we want not necessarily because they are bad people but because we just want to try the other side”, he explained.
While recalling some of the things he has heard about the biggest democracies and that it is very interesting that the British think they would do well with an American style Chief Executive because they feel those kind of powers are necessary to move Britain forward because in a Parliamentary system the powers of a Chief Executive are a little circumscribed and that the Americans are also thinking that the Chief executive is too powerful and it just tells you that people are dynamic in the things that they want from time to time and sometimes it is ultimately in the interest of the larger society to help them see.
On the possibility of declaring work free days to enable residents go out to collect their PVC, the Governor said the State Governor has not precluded any possibility but would be watching as the developments unfold in terms of how the people turn out to collect the cards.
The Governor was joined by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Lateef Ibirogba, Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Raji and the Special Adviser on Media, Mr Hakeem Bello during the interview.
SPECIAL ADVISER TO H.E ON MEDIA
FEBRUARY 3, 2015