By Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
As the countdown to the 2019 general election in Nigeria begins, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Delta State has received 30 new Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines to enhance the process of the Continuous Voter Registration exercise in the state.
The Delta State INEC Administrative Secretary, Mrs. Rose Oriaran-Anthony, stated this yesterday in Asaba while briefing newsmen on the progress of CVR in the state vis-à-vis the seeming apathy among numerous registered voters yet to collect their individual Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) since 2015.
Mrs. Oriaran-Anthony, who admitted that that deployment of apparently obsolete DDC machines greatly slowed down the CVR exercise in the 25 local government areas of the state since 2017, expressed confidence that the addition of the 30 DDC machines would go a long way in speeding up the process in the 47 CVR centres in Delta State.
The new DDC machines would complement the old ones, whose lifespan ought to be about four years but had been in use since the 2007-2010 voter registration exercise in the country.
“The Commission has fixed Monday the 21st of May, 2018 as the commencement date for the collection of PVCs for those who registered in the CVR exercise in 2017”, the state INEC executive administrative secretary said.
She disclosed that a total of 168,402 PVCs had been received by the Commission in the state INEC from the 2017 VCR, adding that the figure “includes those who applied for transfer, both interstate (that is, those from other states) as well as intrastate (that is from one part of the state to another).
Giving a breakdown of the figures from exercise, the Delta State INEC Administrative Secretary said, “Before the commencement of the CVR, we had 2,275,264 registered voters in Delta State”, adding, “For the CVR in 2017, the state registered 176,113 post AFIS (Automatic Finger Identification System) and BR.”
She further said that “at the commencement of the CVR, we had a total number of 153,690 in 2017, 6,347 PVCs were collected for the 1st and 2nd quarters of 2018 (while) 5,104 PVCs have been collected, leaving a balance of 152,239 uncollected PVCs in the state.”
She made a passionate appeal for all citizens and particularly stakeholders to take greater interest in the country’s democratic process by eschewing all forms of violence before and during the 2019 election, and to desist from unlawful electoral activities during the period leading to the election.
Oriaran-Anthony also warned against “double registration, saying those who flouted the law on double registration not only disfranchise themselves, as their names would be automatically deleted from the INEC voters register, but also risk imprisonment as they would be prosecuted if caught.
She assured that the commission had braced generally for the forthcoming general election, and appealed to the Media, civil society groups, faith-based organisation as well as traditional and community rulers to help in the much-needed enlightenment campaign to encourage the people to support INEC to deliver a credible exercise in 2019.
She revealed that INEC had commenced earnest preparations for 2019 and stressed the importance of a credible voters register in Delta State and the country at large.
“The 2019 general election is exactly 274 days away from now and the Commission is already in election mode as numerous pre-election activities have commenced”, she noted, adding, “Training of various categories of staff are ongoing.
“A credible Voter Register is germane to the success of the election. This Commission is committed to giving to the Nigerian people a credible, free and fair election that is inclusive. To this end therefore, I am calling on all stakeholders in Delta State to partner with the Commission in sensitizing the electorate on the importance of registering, and also of equal importance, going out to pick their PVCs.
“Our youths should shun violence and join efforts with the Commission in ensuring a violence-free process. I will like to also use this opportunity to remind the political class that embarking on political campaigns now is violating the provision of the law, which states that campaigns can only commence after the Commission has issued a notice of poll and not earlier than 90 (ninety) days before election.