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5 ways govt can make PVC acquisition & voting easy for Nigerians

As the 2023 general elections draw closer, many Nigerians, especially the youth who have a history of staying aloof from the electoral process, have shown unprecedented determination and readiness to make themselves heard this time.


However, despite its best effort and intentions, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) seems to be overwhelmed by the recent surge in the number of Nigerians who have come out to register for Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).

Owning a PVC is an essential requirement to earn eligibility to vote, but tales from registration centres in some parts of the country have suggested there might be inadequacy of available resources to INEC to enable it carry out this onerous task without much hassle.

The whole essence of electioneering is voting, which provides a legitimate means for citizens to install their preferred candidates in various political positions.

Voting process in better organised climes are simplified to encourage maximum participation and inclusiveness. From registration, voting, and announcement of results, the entire electoral process is designed without encumbrances that could potentially dissuade the citizens from getting involved.

Unfortunately, Nigeria’s case is a complete opposite.

Election is a key component of democracy. And democracy itself is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Therefore, a situation whereby the citizens are constantly excluded from key decision making process as this should be a source of worry for everyone.

Meanwhile, Pulse has highlighted five steps the government could take to make the make PVC acquisition and voting easy for Nigerians.

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Leave the registration window open

Putting a deadline on registration for voter card should be completely discarded. As a matter of fact, the government should make the process continuous even after general elections.

The voting age in Nigeria is 18, and anyone should be able to register for voter card once they clock that age. INEC should be empowered to conduct the exercise round the year, or on a quarterly basis to allow new entrants into the voting pool register.

This will make the process less cumbersome and also afford the electoral umpire enough time to properly strategise for major elections. There has been insinuations in some quarters that those who just registered for voter cards may not have their PVCs ready for 2023 elections.

Should this happen, it will amount to an unfair disenfranchisement of eligible voters.

Create more registration centres

One of the major flaws in the ongoing registration exercise is the absence of enough registration centres. The commission needs to create more registration centres to further decentralise the exercise and bring it closer to the people.

Reports from the field say one registration centre could only admit maximum of 100 registrants per day. It’s unfortunate that Nigerians are now being made to wake up at odd hours just to make the first 100 list at registration centres. While the spirit behind it is commendable, no nation should subject its citizens to that kind of sufferings all in the name of voting.

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The government should provide more resources for INEC to be able to set up new registration centres.

Recruit more staff for INEC

While the electoral commission may be doing everything within its capacity to maximize the available resources, it’s clear that it can make do with more hands. INEC needs all the help it can get to organise credible elections in the country.

It is already making good use of ad-hoc staff for registration and election, this probably needs to be expanded.

Early voting

This may seem a bit difficult to implement given the Nigerian terrain but it’s worthy to be considered by the authority. Early voting has been adopted and proven to be effective in countries with similar population size as Nigeria’s.

This system allows some category of voters to cast their ballots earlier to avoid the chaos usually witnessed on the election day. INEC has continued to decry the level of voter apathy among Nigerians, and this might be one of the ways the government can make the process more attractive to the citizens.

Early voting can be particularly useful during the general elections. For instance, doctors, nurses, journalists, emergency respondents and other essential service providers that may be disenfranchised on election day can be allowed to cast their ballots a week or two before the D-day, this will give room for better inclusiveness.

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Provide more security on election day

One ugly trend that reoccurs in every election in Nigeria is the issue of thuggery and killings. This contributes to the low turn out of voters and the general apathy in our elections.

The last Ekiti governorship election was deemed peaceful because the amount of security presence convinced the people to come out and vote without any fear of being attacked or maimed.

This may be difficult to replicate during a general election when security presence will be required in all the states of the federation. However, the government must find a way to assure safety of citizens on election day to incentivise them to come out and vote.

The government also needs to go tough on any politician caught to be arming thugs to scuttle election, this will eventually eliminate thuggery from the political process and makes it attractive to all.


We need to fully go electronic

Although, a lot of progress have been made in this regard with the recent piloting of bimodal voting accreditation system (BVAS) and the use of smart voter cards.

Also, the agency has introduced electronic transmission of results from polling units, which has helped to reduce significantly the issue of ballot snatching and altering of election results.

However, more can still be done.

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