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87.2m PVCs collected as Nigerians go to polls tomorrow
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87.2m PVCs collected as Nigerians go to polls tomorrow

After weeks of preparation, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has cleared 87,209,007 voters out of the 93.5 million it registered to vote in tomorrow’s Presidential and National Assembly election and the

  • PublishedFebruary 24, 2023

After weeks of preparation, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has cleared 87,209,007 voters out of the 93.5 million it registered to vote in tomorrow’s Presidential and National Assembly election and the March 11 governorship and state Assembly polls.

The 87.2 million voters were the number of people who collected their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, as of February 5 when the deadline to collect the cards ended.

The electoral umpire insisted yesterday that no one would be allowed to vote without PVC.

Indeed, there were hope and anxiety among Nigerians as candidates and political parties rounded off campaigns across the country, yesterday.

While some voters expressed hopes that the elections would offer the country an opportunity to launch on the right path of development, others feared that the process could turn violent, especially considering the violence and verbal exchanges among the presidential candidates and some key stakeholders that had trailed the campaigns which ended yesterday.

According to the data released, yesterday, the number of uncollected PVCs stood at 6,259,229. Nigeria has a registered voting population of 93,469,008.

The Tinubu-Shettima Presidential Campaign Council PCC had on Wednesday demanded a breakdown of Nigerians who have collected their PVCs, saying the data was necessary for its election planning.

At a news conference Wednesday in Abuja, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed that the commission would upload the PVC data collection disaggregation on polling unit basis to its website by Friday.

Aside journalists from domestic and foreign media, some of those present at the briefing were former President of Malawi, Joyce Banda; leaders of the International Republican Institute, IRI, and National Democratic Institute, NDI;

Chairmen of the electoral commissions of the Republic of Benin, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Tanzania and Niger Republic as well as members of the Diplomatic Corps.

State by state figures

A state by state breakdown of PVCs collected showed that Lagos has the highest figure of 6,214,970, followed by Kano with 5,594,193; Kaduna, 4,164,473; Katsina, 3,459,945; and, Rivers, 3,285,785.

Ekiti which has the lowest number of registered voters also has the lowest number of PVCs collected – 958, 052.

A summation of PVCs collected on the basis of geopolitical zones showed that the North-West has 21,445,000; South-West, 15,536,213; North-Central, 14,603,621; South-South, 13,284,920; North-East, 11,937,769; and, South-East, 10,401,484.

In his address, Yakubu said the Commission has meticulously prepared and implemented its Election Project Plan, learning from recent elections.

“This election is a huge logistical deployment. We have painstakingly procured, organized and delivered all the materials to the States for deployment. We commenced the delivery of non-sensitive materials over two months ago and they have been batched down to Registration Area/Ward and Pulling Unit levels.

“Sensitive materials have been delivered to the States and are presently being delivered to our Local Government Area offices. As such, these materials are only between one and two levels away from the Polling Units. We have achieved this by learning from our recent difficult experience with logistics. We have completed arrangements with the transport unions for the final leg of the movement of personnel and materials to the Polling Units. They have assured us of their readiness to provide all the vehicular needs of the Commission for the election”, he said.

Yakubu added that the commission had also completed all the testing of its technologies to be deployed for the election, particularly the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS and the INEC Results Viewing Portal IReV.

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“On 4th February 2023, we tested the BVAS in a mock accreditation exercise and uploaded the results to IReV. We are satisfied with the performance of the BVAS, which has been confirmed by several groups that observed the exercise. Lessons learnt from the exercise have helped us in the training of 10,600 Registration Area Technical Support Staff RATECHS. They will provide the necessary support to ensure that the deployment of the BVAS is without hitches.

No PVC, no voting

“Let me reiterate that the procedure for voting as provided in the Electoral Act 2022 clearly makes the use of the BVAS mandatory. So, also, the use of the Permanent Voters’ Cards PVCs. The ‘No PVC, No Voting’ rule subsists.

“In the last few months, we made 13,676,907 PVCs available for collection for new voters and applicants for transfer and replacement of lost/damaged cards. While we are pleased that the rate of collection is higher than in previous years, there are still, unfortunately, many cards that were not collected.

Vote-buying, a major threat

“Vote-buying remains a major threat to our democracy. We have worked closely with enforcement agencies to ensure that this is eliminated from our electoral process. We are convinced that our joint operations before and on Election Day will vastly reduce the prospect of voter inducement, which is not only illegal but immoral.

“The ban on the use of mobile phones and photographic devices at the voting cubicles is still in place. Some voters have used these devices in previous elections to snap their marked ballot papers for vote transaction. However, citizens are permitted to come to the Polling Units with these devices, as long as they do not take them to the voting cubicles. Our arrangement of placing the ballot box near the voting cubicle and away from party agents remains.

We’ve recovered from attacks on INEC facilities

“In the build-up to the general election, several of our facilities were attacked by unknown assailants in various parts of the country. I am pleased that we have fully recovered from those attacks, and we have been further assured that our facilities, staff, voters, observers, and citizens will be safe during the election.

“As a result of recent developments in the economy, we have also had to consult with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, on the fuel situation. As you all know, we require Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, and Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, to power vehicles and boast for land and marine transportation as well as our generators during the election.

“We are pleased that the NNPC Limited assured us that it will ensure availability of the products for the polls. Likewise, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has assured us that it will provide us with the small amount of cash we require from our budget to cash payment to some critical service providers for the election. I must reiterate that the bulk of payment for works goods and services are still paid for by electronic transfer.

“I want to assure Nigerians that we are adequately prepared for this election. We remain fully committed to a free, fair and credible process. I want to once again declare that our allegiance is only to Nigerians. Our commitment is to ensure that in this election we put everything in place for free choice, fair contest and credible outcome”, he added.

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What we want in Nigeria’s polls—Biden, UK, Japan, others

Meanwhile, President of the United States of America, USA, Mr. Joe Biden, yesterday, insisted that the US is not supporting any candidate participating in Saturday’s Presidential election.

This came as the United States, Australia, Japan, Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom had issued a joint statement, welcoming the signing of peace accord by the candidates and committing to the peaceful conduct of the polls.

Biden, in a statement, urged the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge just as he tasked Nigerians to eschew violence during the election.

He said: I commend yesterday’s peace accord in Nigeria, signed by the political parties and candidates running in Nigeria’s presidential election on February 25.

“By signing this pledge, the parties and candidates have committed to accept the results of the election, as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission, and to support a peaceful transition of power.

“Elections are a fundamental part of a functioning democracy, and all Nigerians deserve this chance to choose their future — freely and fairly.

“While the United States does not support any single candidate or party, we strongly support a peaceful and transparent process that reflects the will of the people of Nigeria.

“On Election Day, I encourage all Nigerians — no matter their religion, region, or ethnicity —to exercise this fundamental freedom and make their voices heard, including young voters, many of whom may be heading to the ballot box for the first time.

“The United States stands with the Nigerian people as they chart a path toward a more democratic, prosperous, and secure future.

“I appreciate President Buhari’s firm commitment that the will of the people will be respected. And in the coming days, I encourage voters to remain peaceful and patient as their ballots are tallied, and urge the political parties and candidates to live up to their pledge.”

Our desire for Nigeria

Also, in a statement, the UK, US, Japan,  and three other nations’ missions in Nigeria said that they believe that it is vital for Nigeria’s stability and democratic consolidation that the process is conducted and concluded safely, fairly and credibly.

The statement reads: “We encourage all actors to intervene proactively to calm any tensions and avoid any violence in the periods before, during and after the elections. We call on all officials at federal and local levels in Nigeria to respect the human and democratic rights of its citizens. We strongly condemn any actions that undermine the peaceful and transparent conduct of the electoral process.

“We call on parties to respect electoral laws and institutions and take a firm stand against violence and hate speech by their supporters.   We ask the security services in Nigeria to do their utmost to protect that process and prevent and deter attacks against INEC facilities, materials and personnel.

“We call on all officials, including the law enforcement authorities, to ensure a safe and conducive environment for the exercise of public freedoms – including the freedom of opinion and expression, the freedom of peaceful assembly and the freedom of association – all of which are essential in democratic societies, in particular in the context of elections.   Law enforcement authorities should remain visibly neutral and respond in a proportionate manner to any election-related incidents.

“We further urge all presidential candidates and political parties to live up to their commitments under the second Peace Accord to accept the results of the election as announced by INEC  and to pursue any challenge of the results through the appropriate legal channels.

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“Finally, we the Diplomatic Missions of the United States, Australia, Japan, Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom in Nigeria would like to congratulate Nigeria on its 24 years of democratic progress since 1999, during which it has been a symbol to others of the value of exercising democratic rights for the betterment of society.   We hope that this year’s elections further build Nigeria’s democratic tradition.”

FG shuts land borders

Meanwhile, the Federal Government, yesterday, ordered the closure of all land borders.

Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, Mr Isah Jere, in a statement, said the borders would be shut from Saturday to Sunday.

The statement reads: “The Federal Government has directed the closure of all land borders effective from 00:00 hours on Saturday February 25 to 00:00 hours Sunday, February, 26, 2023.

“Accordingly, all Command Comptrollers, especially those in the Border States, are to ensure strict enforcement of this directive.”

Banks to close early

Meanwhile, banks have sent notice of early closure to their respective customers ahead of the polls.

Some banks, who sent messages to their customers, said: “Kindly be informed that our branches nationwide will close to customers earlier than usual on Friday, February 24, 2023 by 1pm. Please be assured that you can still bank with us through our alternative channels.”

Domestic airlines suspend outbound flight operations

Also, domestic airlines have suspended flights operation on Saturday, February 25, 2023.

This move according to them was in line with the Federal Government’s no movement on Election Day directive.

It was gathered that the directive might not affect foreign airlines’ coming into the country as they may choose to operate their schedules and drop passengers.

Confirming the development, the management of Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace in a statement to the public titled ‘No scheduled flight operations on February 25, 2023’  said: “There will be no scheduled flights on February 25, 2023, due to the conduct of the Presidential and National Assembly Elections.

“Our scheduled flight operations will resume on Sunday, February 26, 2023.”

Also, Akwa Ibom’s government-owned airline, Ibom Air in a statement, stated that “This is to inform you that Ibom Air will not be operating on Saturday, 25th February, 2023. This is due to the Presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for this day.

Normal operations will commence on 26th February, 2023.”

Dana Air along with Arik Air, also confirmed that it will not have any flights on election day but would return after the elections.

Meanwhile, a source who preferred anonymity told newsmen that, passengers need to understand that the no movement does not give operators, pilots, cabin crew, flight dispatchers, ground handlers, caterers, oil marketers and all the components that make a successful flight avenue to meet their demands.

“An election is a national event and since airlines are of this nation, it stands to reason that any law guiding the elections equally guides us. Our democracy is not as ripe as that of the United States where they do not halt everything to vote.”

Also, it was gathered that Air Traffic Controllers, ATC, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, will be on essential duty to guide aircraft as over-flyers or into the country’s airspace.

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