How INEC Karu Office Is Frustrating PVCs Collection

By Adewole Kehinde

As a Nigerian, passionate about the electoral process and willing to participate, you begin to wonder if the entire dynamic electoral process is all designed to either frustrate you or make participation some kind of survival of the fittest.

This is probably the easiest way to describe the entire process of being a registered voter and eligible to vote on Election Day.

Right from the process of visiting the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, usually, some distance from residential areas, joining the queues and eventually getting registered.

After enduring conflicting information on the readiness of your Permanent Voters Card (PVC), you eventually take the pain to visit the INEC office for collection and get greeted with the response that the voter’s card is still not ready.

This is the situation I faced on Tuesday, 3rd January 2023 at the Karu INEC office, AMAC, FCT as the challenge with PVC collection persists.

Crowds gather at the Karu INEC Office to pick up their PVCs.

Beyond these challenges of unavailable PVCs, there has been a series of reports of missing PVCs, poor communication on the place and time of collection, and alleged extortion by INEC officials in the process. The combination of all these factors is enough to dwindle citizens’ confidence in participating in the process.

Although the commission categorically stated that the last batch of cards is ready for collection from 12th December 2022 to 22nd January 2023.

This information was amplified by organizations working on elections in a bid to mobilize citizens to collect their cards and participate in the 2023 general elections. The ecstasy that followed this news, especially for potentially new voters who just turned 18 was doused by challenges experienced in the collection of PVCs across Nigeria.

With comprehensive data on registered voters and PVCs printed, the commission with the support of CSOs can develop a strategic standard of operation to make the process easier and faster.

This intentionality will first enable the accurate identification of eligible voters whose PVCs are laying at the INEC office via their names, phone numbers, email, and locations right from 2011 to date.

In this vein, a bulk email or Short Message Service (SMS) can be sent to potential voters who are yet to collect their PVCs with information like local government, wards, or addresses of where they could collect their cards.

Although the SMS is said to be deployed this has to be decentralized to all locations and to every citizen who is yet to collect their PVCs right from 2011.

This will no doubt go a long way first in informing citizens that their cards are indeed ready for collection and the exact location where they can collect them while alleviating the challenges of endless visits to either the wrong locations or meeting unavailable PVCs.

The idea is not to “spoon-feed” the potential voter as some may claim but to make participation easier and seamless.

Citizens themselves must show the zeal and will to participate in the process by asking the right questions and making inquiries to the appropriate channels, especially regarding PVC Collection, INEC Local Government Offices, Registration Area Centres, Polling Unit locations, and contacts of electoral officers at their location of electoral participation.

Beyond this, the election management body must continue to provide accurate and timely information mainly to counter misinformation about the entire process. This will build some level of confidence in citizens and further promote transparency as all eyes seem to be on the commission to deliver its most credible process since its establishment. 

INEC should up their game in order not to dim citizens’ confidence as elections draw nearer.