By Yemi Adeleye
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says the commission is worried about the low rate of collection of the newly-printed PVCs of new registrants across the country.
Yakubu made the remark while responding to questions at the INEC/ Private Sector Forum, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), on Tuesday in Lagos.
According to him, it is worrisome that over 7 million PVCs from the 2015 General Elections are yet to be claimed but more worrisome is the rate at which newly-registered voters are coming to claim the newly-printed PVCs.
He said: “We are doing the best we can to ensure that registrants collect their cards but unfortunately many of these cards are still not collected.’’
On the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, the INEC boss said that 9.7 million Nigerians had so far registered and the number would increase.
He said that if the figure was added to the existing 69. 7 million registered voters, INEC would have a register of over 80 million in the 2019 General Elections.
“For transfers, so far, we have 474, 358 requests across all the states of the federation since the commencement of the ongoing CVR on April 27, 2017.
“For those who applied for transfers, as well as those who registered newly in 2017, we have printed the cards for 2.9 million new registrants.
“We have delivered them (the PVCs) to the states for collection by those who registered, which include new registrants, those who applied for transfers, as well as those who asked for replacement of cards.
“For those who registered this year, we are doing the backing and thereafter, we shall print the cards. We will make sure that the cards are available for collection before the general elections.
“The assurance I am giving on behalf of the commission is that all citizens who have registered in 2017 and those registering in the ongoing CVR in 2018, will get their cards before the 2019 general elections,’’ Yakubu assured.
According to him, INEC will conduct elections in 119, 973 polling units and 8,809 wards nationwide, saying that it was ordinarily impossible to create additional polling units before the 2019 elections.
He said that immediately after the 2019 elections, the commission would address issues of creating more polling units, to cater for new settlements.
The chairman added that INEC would create additional voting points tied to existing polling units, to ease voting.
Yakubu, who noted that 68 political parties had been registered, said that the figure could rise as the commission was processing more applications of 138 associations seeking registration as political parties.
On the monitoring of political parties’ campaign finances during elections, Yakubu said that it was difficult to monitor candidates and party expenditures.
He said that political parties were supposed to report to INEC their expenditures during campaigns six months after the elections, apart from annual auditing of party accounts.
“But so many have spent perhaps, outside of the provision of the law but not directly linked to the candidates’ expenditures.
“We have been working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which has built the capacity to track, particularly the big expenditures.
“We will continue to do all we can to track campaign finances and individual expenditures for the election but it is certainly not an easy thing to do,’’ he said.
The INEC chairman said that the development marred the 2015 elections where the deployment of money was used to specifically induce some of the commission’s officials before the elections.
Yakubu said that over 200 staff of the commission had been indicted on the issue, saying that it was the largest number of staff so far indicted in the history of INEC.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was attended by businessmen and women in the state.