The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the FCT has said that over 260,000 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have yet to be collected with 16,931 of the cards in Gwagwalada Area Council. Alhaji Yahaya Bello, The Resident Electoral Commissioner in-charge of FCT, made the fact known in Abuja on Thursday during a sensitisation meeting in Gwagwalada. He said that the uncollected number of PVCs was worrisome and added that the commission would not extend the closing date of Aug 17 for voter registration.
Bello charged the Chairman of the council, Mr Adamu Mustapha-Danze, and all political party executives in the area to refocus on sensitisation rather than focusing only on campaigning. He said the electorate ought to know and understand the importance and use of the cards before the 2019 general elections. “If you don’t sensitise the people properly on the need to collect their cards, who will vote for you and how will you win? “Politicians are the beneficiaries of the PVCs and not INEC; you should be more worried and concerned over the increasing number of uncollected PVCs than us. “It is your duty as stakeholders to urge the electorate on the collection of the cards, ” he said.
The commissioner said while the distribution of cards would continue until one week to the general elections, voter registration would be suspended from Aug. 17 until after the 2019 general elections. He explained that the suspension of the exercise was to enable the commission to produce more cards for the elections. Bello assured those who registered before the suspension that they would get their cards before the general elections. He added that anyone who reached the eligible age for voting after Aug. 17 would not be registered until after the elections in 2019.
“Anyone who will turn 18 years after Aug.17 will not be registered to vote,” he said. Bello commended the residents of the council for their positive response to the on-going voter registration and urged them to show the same spirit and come out en-masse to vote during the general elections. “Once you are registered and issued a PVC, we assure you that your votes on election day will be counted and your votes will count. “If 100 persons are registered and only two persons vote, only two votes will be counted. “We urge all religious leaders, traditional heads and political representatives to preach peace and violence-free elections to the people. “We cannot over-emphasise the importance of a peaceful and violence- free election.
“When you conduct yourselves in a peaceful manner as stakeholders, the people will emulate your good conduct and this attitude will simplify the work of the security agents too, ” he said. Bello reiterated that the commission would include weekends and public holidays from Aug. 1 to fast track the registration process. Earlier, Mustapha-Danze the Chairman of the council, expressed appreciation to the commission for the visit to the council. Mustapha-Danze said that the effort was timely and expressed optimism that it would increase the level of preparedness of the people toward the upcoming general elections. He also appealed to religious heads to preach the good message of peace to their followers at their various places of worship. “I appeal to our clerics in churches, our chief imams in mosques to sensitise their faithful.
“Registration is not enough. Collection of PVCs and voting is not enough also if there is no peace. “We need peace in order for our votes to be counted and to count. “Come 2019 we want to see residents in the council come out en-masse to participate in the process in a peaceful manner, ” he said. He lauded the effort made by INEC to include weekends and public holidays for registration in order to fast track the process before the closing date.
Mustapha-Danze also gave an assurance that the council would ensure that the number of uncollected PVCs in the area was reduced. Heads of departments in the council and FCT INEC, political party executives, religious and traditional leaders, security agents, market women and youths attended the event.