Ahead of Saturday’s presidential election, the Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed concern over the millions of uncollected Permanent Voter’s Cards at its local government offices in Lagos.
Out of the 5.4 million registered voters in the state, 3.8 voters have collected their PVCs, according to INEC.
“The main challenge is that at the local government offices, we have a lot of permanent voter’s cards uncollected closer to the day of the election,” Femi Akinbiyi, INEC’s Head of Public Affairs in Lagos, told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview on Tuesday.
“We believe that human beings registered for these cards. They ought to have come out. We appealed to them, we went on air, we changed pattern, took it closer to them, closer to PU (polling units), to the registration area, to the INEC offices.
“We are changing position so as to make it easier for the people. But as I’m talking, notwithstanding, we are able to hit over 69 percent of the mark in Lagos State.”
Mr. Akinbiyi reiterated the Commission’s preparedness for the election saying that they already started distributing non-sensitive voting materials across the 20 local government areas of the state.
“We are rounding our training of our ad-hoc staf,” he said. “They’ve been trained before but we are retraining them so that they re-master the art on that day.
“Tomorrow the commission is having an enlarged stakeholders meeting with the top brass of security agencies, traditional rulers, market women, media, etc. We want to brief them on our state of preparedness, then synergize and ask what to be done, at least, within the small time to the election.”
The Commission also said it would distribute the sensitive voting material by Thursday and restated that the card reading machine would not disappoint on election day.
“It always baffles one when people always set out with negative mind for anything,” said Mr. Akinbiyi. “We should be positive at least for once. We agree, any new innovation will always meet with a kind of resistance. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good.
“To convince the people, that’s why the Commission put up this smart card reader test on March 7 in 12 states. In Lagos we’ve gone round almost all the local governments.
“We made sure we demonstrated the use of card reader, asking those people in the crowd who are with their permanent voter’s card to come and test it,” he said. “They test it and saw it is simple and it’s not something hidden about it. They found it unbelievable that this thing is so simple and not complex as they thought.”
He, however, added that back-up card reading equipment would be readily available as a contingency plan.
“We have enough back-ups for the stat,” he said. “In case, one card reader malfunctions, there is ready one to replace it immediately. I won’t tell you where it is but we have it handy. For the number of smart cards we have per local government, we have about 3 per cent of the total supply as a contingency.
“Secondly, this battery does not discharge easily. It’s going to last for 12 hours. For the accreditation purpose, which the smart card reader is going to be used for, it’s going to take about five hours, from 8 o’clock to 1 o’clock. The beauty of this battery is that the battery does not discharge if it’s not in use. All these features have been put in place.”
However, in the “rare occasion” where the machine fails to work completely, Mr. Ogunbiyi said that the election would be postponed till the next day.
“Again, when people come for accreditation, if the machine can identify that this card is an INEC card and you try so many times and your biometrics could not be captured, we have other plans for those people,” he said.
“We are not going to disenfranchise those ones. They will go to one of our staff there who will look at the card and then look at the manual register and if he’s convinced that the person before him or her is the same person in the card, which the machine had already authenticated that the card is for INEC – the machine will not read any card that is not from INEC.
“But there is going to be an incidence form to be filled, to tell the world the reason why they allowed you to vote despite the fact that your finger was not captured.”