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Professor Atahiru Jega

2015 ELECTIONS: INEC explains voters’ cards challenges

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is strongly committed to ensuring that every properly registered voter get his / her Permanent Voter Card (PVC) for the 2015 general election. Contrary to allegations in some quarters, no duly registered person has been delisted from the Register of Voters; neither will any be denied his / her PVC.

This reassurance is against the backdrop of temporary challenges that have been experienced in the third phase of the distribution of PVCs in some states, which the Commission has been making vigorous efforts to remediate.

INEC has since Friday, November 7, 2014, been distributing PVCs to registered voters in nine states across the country under the third phase of the exercise. Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) is scheduled to hold in the same states from Wednesday, November 12th to Monday, November 17th, 2014. Similar exercises have already been conducted in 24 other states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under the first and the second phases of the programme.

The Commission deferred the distribution of PVCs in four other states it had earlier listed for this third phase because the cards for those states have not been fully delivered by printers. It is partly for the same reason that the Commission rescheduled the distribution of PVCs in limited areas of Lagos and Nasarawa states. The outstanding cards will, however, be certainly distributed in good time before the 2015 general election. They are presently being produced and have been scheduled for distribution under the fourth phase of the exercise from Friday, November 28th to Sunday, November 30th, 2014.

In particular, it is completely false that INEC has removed the records of 1.4 million persons from the Register of Voters compiled in 2011 in Lagos State. It is true that at the end of the 2011 general registration exercise, the Commission announced a figure of 6.1 million registrants in the state. But when that data was subjected to the Automated Fingerprints Identification System (AFIS) software, 82,892 multiple registrations were eliminated. Also, there was the technical challenge of loss of data and incomplete data affecting about one million records – mostly in 1,792 polling units that were identified and made public before the present exercise. That was why / how the Post-Business Rule figure for Lagos State (on the basis of which PVCs were printed) came down to about 4.6 million registrants.

For avoidance of doubt, a pre-acknowledged data loss and incomplete data of some registrants is not a ‘conspiracy’ issue as has been alleged by some notable persons. It is a back-end technical challenge that is far from sealing the fate of affected persons, and for which INEC has already put in place measures to ensure redress. The Commission has made provision for eligible persons for whom PVCs could not been printed due to data loss or defective data to come out from Wednesday, November 12th to Monday, November 17th, 2014 for their data to be recaptured during the CVR. In special consideration for the 1,792 polling units in Lagos State where the challenge of data loss is much pronounced, the CVR will take place at the polling unit level, as against the Registration Area (RA) level in other parts of the state.

The Register of Voters is the most important bedrock of the credibility of any election. It is, therefore, not in the best interest of the political process, or indeed the enlightened self-interest of the political elite, to needlessly impugn the integrity of the Register. INEC hereby reassures the public of its unwavering sincerity of purpose; which is the reason it has always come clean on its operations, processes as well as challenges. The Commission regrets the inconvenience caused members of the public by the initial hitches in the present exercise and pledges to attend to every eligible registrant within the scope of its outlined schedules. The Commission also restates its determination to ensure that the 2015 general election meets up to global best standards, and solicits the cooperation of all Nigerians in this regard.

Kayode Robert Idowu
Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman


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