January 27, 2023
CONCERNS OF DISENFRANCHISEMENT WITH UNPRINTED PVCS & UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
“You cannot live a normal existence if you have not taken care of a problem that affects your life and affects the lives of others; that is the value you hold which in fact defines your very existence.”
– Wole Soyinka
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards will end this Sunday, January 29th at 5pm.
However, reports from voters in different collection centres across the country revealed that some validly registered voters were informed by the INEC officials that their PVCs were not available; while some others were asked to return on a later day beyond the deadline or after the election to collect their PVCs. This is a breach of the Electoral Act 2022 which mandates INEC in Section 16(1) to design, print and issue voter’s cards to voters whose names appear in the register of voters. INEC also, had further committed to and promised that everyone registered and, in their database, will have their PVC provided and available for collection. The emphasis on a deadline for collection is an indirect disenfranchisement of validly registered voters whose PVCs are not available due to INEC’s administrative lapses. Denying these voters their right to vote due to a failure on the part of INEC is unacceptable.
And to be clear, this is not only a problem in Lagos. Citizens have provided reports from Abuja, Rivers, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Ondo, Nasarawa, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Borno, Sokoto, Ogun, Kano, & Kwara.
We also note the concern of the students who registered at home while tertiary institutions were shut down for over 8 months. According to INEC, 40% of the 9,518,188 newly registered voters are students. If they registered at home and are now at school, INEC must ensure they can pick up their cards in the least expensive way possible.
Reclaim Naija has received hundreds of calls and texts from its observers across the country about these challenges. With six episodes of Twitter Spaces and three Instagram Lives with different INEC officials; in addition to reports submitted through its www.rsvp.ng Complaints Portal, EiE Nigeria has supported over 10,000 voters through this PVC Collection process.
Given the reported challenges, we ask that INEC do the following:
- Inform Nigerians if it is still printing cards and when all the cards for registered voters will be available for collection.
- Extend PVC Collection to ensure that everyone whose cards were not found are reprinted, and there is a clear process for them to pick up the cards.
- Work with the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) to ensure that there are no classes or exams the week before elections so students can go home to vote.
- Communicate with newly registered voter’s especially students when the PVCs are ready.
- Create a dedicated desk for civil society organisations, media and citizens to escalate the issues being observed for quick resolution.
The engine to drive this process is clear and proactive information sharing from INEC. There are high expectations for this election and INEC can not be seen to be deliberately or inadvertently disenfranchising certain groups of people.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) (www.thecjid.org) is a media innovation think tank founded in 2014 to enable a West African media that advances the values of human rights and democratic accountability. CJID builds and/ incubates innovative media platforms including Premium Times, Dubawa, Leaks.ng, and gosi.app. We also provide thought leadership to deepen the inclusive development discourse and tackle information disorder in the region.
ConnectHub (www.connecthubng.org) is a human rights platform that documents, defends and advocates against police brutality and state violence in Nigeria.
Dataphyte (www.dataphyte.org) is a media, research and data analytics committed to driving national development in Nigeria through civic technology, data access, and policy advisory. Dataphyte’s data-driven policy advocacy and accountability platforms include Dataphyte Elections, Anfani, Goloka, Dataplex and Open Data.
Enough is Enough Nigeria (www.eie.ng) is a network of individuals and organizations committed to instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria through active citizenship. EiE’s #RSVP – Register | Select | Vote | Protect is Nigeria’s longest-runing get-out-the-vote campaign. EiE was an integral part of the #OccupyNigeria movement in 2012; co-leads the #OpenNASS campaign and launched the #OfficeOfTheCitizen campaign to mark its 5th anniversary in 2015. It publishes a collection of essays to mark its decade plus of impact in 2022 – Footprints: Past | Present | Future.
#FixPolitics (www.fixpolitics.org) is a citizens-led research-based initiative advocating for structural change of politics and governance in Nigeria and on the African continent. #FixPolitics recently launched its Office Of The Citizen (OOTC) campaign in Nigeria and is currently executing its 2023 Elections:Matters Arising awareness campaign Initiative.
Kimpact Development Initiative (KDI) (www.kdi.org.ng) is a youth-focused nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that inspires citizen-led democratic development that is anchored on the principles of participation, data-driven advocacy, promotion of strong democratic institutions, and public policies.
Reclaim Naija (aka Community Life Project – CLP) (www.communitylifeproject.org) is a nation non-profit organisation challenging inequality and advancing social justice by empowering marginalised grassroots communities.
The Electoral College Nigeria (www.electoralcollng.org) is a political literacy institution that takes civic education up another notch. ECN believes political literacy is critical to every sphere of a democracy and has involvement in debates, virtual courses and training for elected and political appointees. ECN has partnerships with CJID on its Politeracy 101 course; with states on LG Chairpersons Training and the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) on debates.
Women Advocates and Research Development Centre (WARDC) (www.wardcnigeria.org) is a feminist human rights organisation supporting gender justice and good governance.
Yiaga Africa (www.yiaga.org) is a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement. We focus on in-depth research, providing critical analysis on key democratic and governance issues, crafting practical solutions, training and empowering citizens to lead change in their community.