THE first phase of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC) collection was highly criticized for lapses during the exercise. The second phase has come and gone and Nigerians are in high expectations of better service.
ENCOMIUM Weekly spoke with the Resident Electoral Commissioner of INEC in Lagos State, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola about the second phase and the lapses recorded during the first stage.
How will you assess the Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) distribution and voters registration?
By the grace of God, it is not only me that assessed, some stakeholders were in our office yesterday. Some political parties sent their representatives here. They said we scored above average. We started poorly but we were able to stabilize later. From what they observed on the field, we ended well.
A lot of people criticized the process, they said it was not well organized?
I said it started poorly. It is not the beginning that matters but how it was concluded. It was concluded on a good note.
There were a lot of complaints about INEC’s equipment, some of their equipment were said to have broken down and some units didn’t even have enough. What is INEC doing about this?
Like I said, we were able to stabilize after the second day. There are documents that showed that in each ward, they were supposed to have two machines but we used our discretion here in Lagos because of the peculiar problem of population. We gave about eight, six machines in some places. You would hardly find two machines in a ward. We even gave generators to all local governments for charging their batteries. We have also provided backup batteries as well. It is easy for people to say my battery has gone down. Nigerians have a way of exploiting certain situations.
We have made adequate preparations for all machines that may malfunction. During the last stage of the PVC distribution, we were trouble shooting in almost all the registration centres. We had technical people on standby. We are doing that again in the second phase. We also have 50 extra machines in each local government.
People also complained of lateness by your officers to the polling units. Why was it so?
Our men do not go deliberately late to their polling units. Some go late because they have to wait for the wards to arrive. If they go there without cards, it will be a wasted day and INEC will still pay for it. Another reason for lateness is if it is zero unit, there wouldn’t be collection at such centres but only re-registration. Aside these factors, nothing should make them go late or not turn up at all. Except circumstances beyond human control.
Some people had their names duplicated as if they registered twice. What will be done in such situation?
It is possible to have some names appearing two times but that is minimal. Once they collect their card, the other one will be recorded in the incident form and sent back to Abuja. That is human error.
How will voters who missed out in the first exercise, collect their PVC?
We have received some of their cards. We will not join cards from the first batch with the second batch. No. Once distribution has been done in their polling units and they were unable to collect theirs, they should report to the INEC office within their local governments. We are using schools and some offices as collation centres and we have a table in each ward of every local government.
For polling units where nobody had collected, we will create time for them to collect their PVC at their polling stations.
A couple of days back, a political party accused another of cloning the PVC. Is it possible to do that?
If it is possible to clone it, there is nothing we can do. But we have done everything to ensure that it cannot be easily cloned. Some people asked me and compared the PVC to ATM cards. They complained that certain features did not appear on the PVC. I made them realize that the PVC has all those features inside it so as to make it difficult to clone.
Can you assure Lagosians that they will all collect their PVC before elections?
I want to assure you that people will get their cards before elections. We are concerned about the collection of the PVC. Not just that, we want them to collect it at locations close to their homes. If it is possible for me to send distribution agents to each house, I will do that. We are not interested in having the cards with us. By the time we conclude the second phase of distribution of the PVC, we will meet with stakeholders and discuss the best way to distribute any other card left with us.
How are preparations for the second phase of the distribution?
It will be a lot better than the first one. We have factored a lot of lapses we observed during the first exercise to this coming stage.
– SHADE WESLEY-METIBOGUN