The Independent National Electoral commission has been accused of frustrating the efforts of would-be voters to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) with less than a month to the February 16 presidential election.
THISDAY learnt, for example, that at the Garki Primary School in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, hundreds of Nigerians almost on a daily basis throng the school, which the commission is using as one of its PVCs collection centres, often in vain to pick up their cards.
Few weeks ago, the electoral body had cried out that at least eight million PVCs were lying fallow in its offices and urged would-be voters to pick them up.
One of INEC’s National Commissioner, Dr. Mohammed Lecky, disclosed this during an interview with THISDAY.
He said, “There is no state in the country where we have achieved 100 per cent distribution of PVC. The distribution of PVC is the biggest headache for us. We need the media to help us encourage the people to come and collect their PVCs. People are not coming forward to pick their PVCs. We have about eight million PVCs yet to be collected by Nigerians.”
However, THISDAY checks revealed that many people at the Garki Primary School and other collection centres were finding it difficult to collect their PVCs.
Some of them claimed that they had been trying, since 2011 to get a PVC without success.
“They kept us waiting for ours,” a nursing mother waiting to collect her card stated. “Many of the workers here were lousy. They were rude. They kept us under the sun while they sheltered themselves in the classroom. Some of us have been waiting since 2016 to collect our cards.”
Another would-be voter, who identified herself as Cynthia Odabe, told THISDAY it was easier for a camel to pass through the needle’s eye than for her to get her PVCs.
“I was disenfranchised in the last general election. Since 2011 that I applied to collect the permanent voter card, I have tried without success to get my card. Even though my name is on INEC’s voter register, they said they don’t have my card. So, where’s my PVCs? INEC should please give me my PVC,” said Odabe though she disclosed that INEC had intervened in her case.
Another individual waiting to pick up her card also noted that the INEC representatives at the Garki Primary School were unpatriotic in their attitude towards people waiting to pick their cards.
“They treated people as if they were schoolchildren. Even schoolchildren you have to treat them with some dignity. But these INEC workers, particularly one woman among them is extremely rude and lousy.
“She behaved as if she was doing the government and citizens who had come to pick up their PVCs a favour. She was very unpleasant in speech and conduct. We want to INEC to take note of this woman,” the would-be voter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity explained.
Odabe, who is a public servant, told THISDAY that she also had “an encounter” with the woman.
“She wears glasses. I have known since 2016. She’s always been rude and unpleasant. She behaves with an arrogant sense of entitlement. But it shouldn’t be that way. As a public servant, she owes INEC and the public to discharge her duties with diligence and dignity. But this particular woman has gained a notoriety working for the electoral commission.
“To be fair, only one guy among the INEC staff at Garki Primary School has been pleasant. Others, particularly that woman is a thorn in everybody’s flesh,” Odabe pointed out.