Voters in some states in the South-West have decried the inability of the Independent National Electoral Commission to provide them with their permanent voter cards to enable them to cast their votes in the February elections.
Those in Oyo State, who spoke to one of our correspondents, accused INEC of having deliberate plans to disenfranchise them ahead of the general elections.
Some of them, who spoke to SUNDAY PUNCH at the Oluyole, Ibadan office of INEC, alleged that they were not attended to by officials of the commission, and expressed doubts that they would be able to exercise their franchise.
One of them is the Chairman of Kakanfo Inn and Conference Centre, Ibadan, Dr. Lekan Are, who decried the inability of INEC to play its role, efficiently.
He said the commission’s attitude gave credence to the allegation that it was systematically decimating the number of votes in the South-West ahead of the elections.
Are said, “There are two sets of people here: some have the temporary voter card with the hope of collecting the PVC; but INEC has refused to give them the PVC, either because their data was wiped according to INEC officials or because the machine did not capture them well.
“This is not the voters’ fault. There are so many people like that. This is a serious matter. This may be a deliberate attempt to prevent some of our people from voting and something has to be done about it. The worry is that the people are being disenfranchised and I believe that it is a deliberate effort to reduce the number of votes in the South-West.”
Another voter, Abdulahi Abdulrahman, said he was told to go to the secretariat to pick up his PVC but he was surprised that INEC had nothing for him and many others.
“We have been coming to this office for many days but given the same excuse. They have been telling us to come back, but now they say we can no longer register as the date earmarked for it has lapsed.
“Before now, we had gone to the councils but officers at the council secretariats directed us to the INEC office. They were adamant that they would not register anyone again. Look at the number of people here, does it mean that we are not going to vote? It is not fair,” Abdulrahman lamented.
Akinola Oluwaseun, similarly said many eligible voters with the temporary card were frustrated and forced to go home with no hope of exercising their voting rights.
He said, “We came here hoping to be registered but we met INEC officers, who said they could not help us. We have been to the council secretariat but we were told to come here. Yesterday, we were more than this number but many have been frustrated and they have resigned to fate, meaning they will not be able to vote.
“This act looks deliberate and INEC must address it. Is it that they lack enough PVCs or the personnel to carry out their duties?”
In Ogun State, the INEC Commissioner, Mr. Sam Olumekun, while briefing the media shortly before the commencement of the Continuous Voters Registration and distribution of the PVC in November, said a total of 1.4m PVCs were ready for distribution.
Investigations by one of our correspondents showed that there were thousands with the temporary voter card who had yet to get their PVCs.
Many of those in this category could not trace their names on INEC’s voter register.
Olumekun, while handing over to the new INEC Commissioner, Timothy Ibitoye, recently, said, “Everyone who had registered with INEC would get their PVCs before the elections.”
However, concerned residents and politicians are apprehensive, warning that many of the residents might be disenfranchised.
A member of the state House of Assembly and candidate for the House of Representatives for Ifo/Ewekoro Constituency, Mrs. Adijat Adeleye-Oladapo, stated that many of the residents had yet to get their PVCs.
She said, “There are thousands of people in my constituency who have yet to get their PVCs, even when they have their temporary card. They could not find their names on INEC’s register.
“Though INEC officials told us they will get their PVCs, each day moves us closer to the elections. What I think INEC should do is to sustain the CVR.”