The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has so far distributed 2,485136 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) to the electorate in Bayelsa and Kogi ahead of the Nov. 16, Governorship Poll.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at a quarterly consultative meeting of the Commission with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Abuja on Wednesday.
“A total of 889,308 PVCs were collected in Bayelsa, while 1,485,828 PVCs were collected by the electorate in Kogi as at Sept. 30,” he said.
Yakubu said in Bayelsa, the number of PVCs collected represented 96.3 per cent of 923,182 registered voters in the state, while the number of uncollected PVCs stood at 33,874, representing 3.7 per cent.
He also said 1,485,828 PVCs were collected in Kogi, representing 90.2 per cent of 1,646,350 registered voters in the state, while 160,522 PVCs were still uncollected, representing 9.8 per cent of the registered voters.
“The commission will make available detailed figures of PVCs collected in each state by Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Registration Areas (RAs) as part of our continuing effort to deepen transparency and accountability.
“Copies will be made available at the commission stakeholders’ meetings in Yenagoa and Lokoja. The same information will also be uploaded on INEC website.
“Meanwhile, all uncollected PVCs have been retrieved from our LGA offices and would be deposited at the branches of the Central Bank of Nigeria in Bayelsa and Kogi for safe keeping, pending the resumption of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR),’’ he said.
Yakubu also disclosed that the commission has accredited 135 domestic observer groups and 16 foreign observer groups for the Nov. 16 election in the two states.
He said that while 67 domestic observer groups were accredited for Bayelsa, 68 were accredited for Kogi, and eight foreign observer groups for each of the states.
The INEC boss reminded the observer groups of the imperative of submitting their reports in line with the terms of their accreditation.
“For the 2019 General Elections, INEC accredited a total of 159 observer groups out of which 120 were domestic and 39 foreign. Collectively, they proposed to deploy 73,562 observers made up of 71,256 domestic and 2,306 foreign.
“However, seven months after the general elections, the commission has so far received reports from only 72 observer groups representing 45.2 per cent, out of 159.
“I wish to remind those that are yet to formally submit their reports to the Commission to do so in earnest in both hard and soft copies as required of them under their terms of accreditation,’’ he said.
Yakubu said that for the groups that had submitted their reports, INEC had analysed their recommendations for implementation.
He, however, noted that majority of the recommendations tend to be general and not detailed and specific enough for remedial action.
“This is especially where inadequacies or failures that could lead to action taken against individuals or groups were reported.
“More detailed and accurate recommendations will help us identify locations, individuals or groups responsible for infractions and take appropriate action or in the case of exceptional performance to commend those responsible,’’ he said.
Yakubu disclosed that the commission had had engagement with security agencies to ensure unimpeded access to voting locations and collation centres for accredited observers and the media in Bayelsa and Kogi.
This according to him was in addition to adequate protection for all, including election officials and voters.
“We also agreed that the rules of engagement for security officials on election duty should be reprinted and made available to the security personnel and stakeholders,” he said.
He assured that CSOs would continue to play important role in the country’s democratic process.
“We value your engagement with the Commission and will continue to deepen it,’’ he said.
Speaking on behalf of the CSOs, the Executive Director, Inclusive Friends Association, Mrs Grace Jerry, assured INEC of the organisation’s continued support towards improving the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
Jerry, however, decried the number of female candidates for Kogi and Bayelsa governorship election.
She said that was an indication that more still needed to be done to improve the participation of women and Persons Living with Disability ahead of 2023 general elections.
She urged participants at the meeting to give recommendations that would help INEC to improve on the electoral process.(NAN)