Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Commissioner in charge of South West, Professor Lai Olurode has urged all Nigerians that are eligible to vote in the 2015 general elections to make sure they collect their Permanent Voter’s Card, without which they won’t be able to participate in the exercise.
He pointed out this and much more when he granted ENCOMIUM Weekly an interview on Friday, December 19, 2014.
How would you assess voters’ registration so far?
What we are doing now is not voter registration but continuous voter registration for those who had turned 18 years since the completion of the last exercise in 2011 and those who missed the opportunity then. This has been generally successful, though there were some technical hitches with our equipment and logistics.
Would you say the exercise has been successful?
Largely successful. We must have recorded about 10 million new entries.
Which area do you think INEC has not done well in the exercise that can be improved upon?
Logistics and timely arrival of our staff in some cases, but the public should learn to be patient and never wait until the last minute before coming out to register or collect their PVC. Every day, we seek improvements in our logistics and we collaborate with private sector transport owners both for logistics and security.
A lot of people are yet to collect their Permanent Voters Cards, what is the INEC doing to address the issue?
We have advised those who missed out during the distribution of PVC at the polling units to approach INEC offices in all the 774 local governments and the area councils in Abuja.
Many names were said to have been missing on INEC list and they were duly registered and issued temporary voters cards in 2011,what would you say was responsible for this error?
We are doing our best to address the subject of missing names. Really, it is a strange phenomenon to talk of missing names. These are largely people with incomplete records, double registrants and those whose record had been corrupted or the machines containing their names had been stolen. Some, in these categories, were advised to re-register during the CVR and their cards are being printed and will be issued before the Febuary elections.
What will be the fate of the eligible voters that cannot secure PVC before 2015 general elections?
My advice is that all registered voters should collect their PVC before the elections, latest before the end of January. On our part, we are struggling to make sure that all the cards are available before then. We are working round the clock.
Our technical partners had given us the necessary assurances that all will be well. It has been a huge national project being undertaken within a very short period of time, with limited funding and with the objective of checkmating election fraudsters.
PVC being a condition precedent to the exercise of franchise, my advise is that every eligible must get this before election otherwise those who missed out for whatever reasons cannot vote. And this will be too bad.
What is your candid assessment of the primary elections conducted across the country?
The primaries generally were a mixed bag. Non adherence to guidelines issued by parties were a common feature in some cases.
This is explains the several complaints that had accompanied the outcomes of the primaries. Anyway, progress is being made. And the courts are there to entertain contestations.
The primaries were characterized by protests, criticisms and all that which point to the fact that the elections were not properly monitored by INEC. What is your comment on this?
INEC monitored all primaries to which we were invited and the job was well done but, don’t forget that we are indeed helpless by contradictory sections of the laws – Electoral Act and the 1999 constitution as amended.
Even if we monitored and observed infractions of the guidelines as crafted by political parties and the laws, the parties can still forward names of candidates that emerged from flawed primaries. The laws encourage this classic impunity.
How ready is INEC for 2015 general elections?
Preparations are in top gear for the 2015 elections and our mandate is to deliver on a most transparent, credible and largely flawless election. We are set to improve on the benchmark of 2011 elections on which international independent observers and local observers commented so favourably.
We have, since the conclusion of the last election, been interrogating our imperfections, internal self criticisms and critical appraisal of our methodologies.
We are prepared to market our products far better than we did in 2011 and we will certainly deliver superior and effective electoral services in 2015 as never before in the history of our country. But INEC alone cannot achieve much without the cooperation of other stake holders.
– TADE ASIFAT