The National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, Lagos State chapter, on Tuesday protested what it described as the “poorly and uncoordinated” distribution of the Permanent Voters Card, PVC, in Lagos.
The students, about 50 of them, gathered at the Lagos office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, carrying placards with inscriptions like “Don’t shut my voice, all over the country, Eager Nigerians cannot implement their right to vote, #INECWhereIsMyPVC”.
The students sang aluta songs and demanded to speak with the Resident Electoral Commissioner but security officials shut them out.
Led by Yakub Eleto, the Lagos state chairman of NANS, the students said the protest was to remind INEC of its promise to distribute PVCs at Local Governments Secretariats.
“The purpose of this protest is to register our displeasure about the poor, uncoordinated and purposive act to disenfranchise Nigerian students and the youth at large by INEC,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“We were here last week, were we told the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Adekunle Ogunmola, about the shoddy distribution of PVCs and voters registrations. We told him that a whole lot of Nigerian students have not gotten their PVCs, even young people have not gotten and If by now, we don’t have PVCS, it automatically means that some of us would be disenfranchised in the coming general election,” he added.
Mr. Eleto said the students want to effect a change in leadership of the country and can only do that if allowed to vote.
“If we cannot be registered or get PVCS, this means that the circle of having bad and incompetent people at the helms of affairs will continue. And the best thing we can do right now, is to first of all get ourselves registered and get the PVCs”.
Mr. Eleto told PREMIUM TIMES that the protest was not politically motivated.
“We are here on behalf of the students, not on behalf of any political party. Can you see any political party’s sign or logo around? Nigerian students are getting wiser and this time, we would part-take in effecting change,” he said.
After about an hour of protest and failed attempt to speak with officials of INEC by the students, the arrival of police officers from Sabo police station, Yaba, ensured that an official of INEC addressed the students.
An administration officer, Mr Adebayo, who addressed the students on behalf of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, said the electoral body is working round the clock to ensure all Lagosians who are eligible to vote gets their voters card.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner is in Abuja for a meeting right now, and I assure you that all hands are on deck to ensure that PVCs are distributed in Alimosho, Somolu/Bariga, Epe, which are the areas you’ve identified. We must also note that this problem is not perculliar to Lagos alone. It’s a nationwide thing.
“But I can assure you that you all will register and get your cards. The cards are not printed here but Abuja, and on the issue of if we need more hands, if need be, we will definitely call on students to help us out,” he said.
He added that he was delighted with the manner which the protest was conducted as it is a sign that the students and youth are ready to be leaders of tomorrow- a statement the students objected to. They said “we are the leaders of today”.