Leading to the governorship election in Ekiti state, conducted in June last year, there were agitations that thousands of eligible voters will be disenfranchised due to some administrative mix-up in INEC that will deny them their PVCs.
A month after, same music played out and even louder in Osun state. INEC claimed to have produced 1,256,574 cards for collection. at the end of the distribution, only 697,574 voters representing 55.5% could locate and collect their cards. In order words 44.5% of eligible voters were automatically eliminated from the election.
When the segmented distribution of the cards began later, complaints were not in short supply. While some polling centers were muddled up, leading to some eligible voters not finding their names and cards, other centers had their register completely missing.
While these were going on, it was not so important to draw the attention of authorities at the federal government. but recent numbers released by INEC seems to have jerked the government out of its slumber.
last week, INEC’s statement showed that 38,774,391 out of the total registered voters of 54,341,610 have collected their instrument to vote next month. This implies that 15,567,219 cards are still uncollected.
Further break down of the numbers shows that electorates within the perceived strongholds of the APC which is North East, North West and South West are in possession of 59.75% of PVCs so far distributed leaving the South East, South South and North Central where the PDP is hoping to clear the votes with 40.25% of the cards.
The true picture is that if the Presidential election is conducted today, political pundits may not have much difficulty predicting how the result will turn out.
INEC has ordered a decentralization of the PVC distribution but it is not clear how that will enhance the cleaning up of a contaminated process.
Another cause for worry is that with the desperation of politicians in top gear, the undistributed permanent voter cards may diminish or even vanish whereas those who legally own them still do not have them.
While INEC should watch out for card hijackers, the commission is expected to quickly resolve the fate of those who re-registered for no fault of their own but due to technical, administrative or logistic challenges confronting the commission.
INEC should bear in mind that if one eligible voter who desired to participate in the election could not do so because of INEC’s failures, the fairness and credibility of the election is being put to question.