The Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) is acclaimed to be our only tool to exercise our constitutionally-given right during the forthcoming general elections. It is about the only power left for the common man in determining his fate, his children and generation to come.
As I write this piece, it is a known fact that about 45 per cent of registered voters are yet to collect theirs and many eligible voters were unable to participate in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR). These will inadvertently affect the conduct of the election. They will equally affect the democratic process and threaten the credibility of the February polls.
President Goodluck Jonathan has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make the PVC available to all eligible voters. Interestingly, the opposition parties are more vehement in the call to ensure that the almost 70 million registered voters are not denied the right to vote.
It can be recalled that sometimes in January, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Sa’ad, expressed fears over the possibility of his being disemfranchised. As at that time, the Sultan told President Goodluck Jonathan, who visited his palace while in Sokoto for his second-term Presidential campaign, that he (Sultan) had not received his PVC. It is not clear if the Spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria had now secure his PVC.
INEC claims to have in its possession many PVCs, but the reality is that many may still not collect them due to change of location. Similarly, the non-transferability of the PVCs could deny many, the right to vote because even when they collect their PVCs, they may not be able to travel to vote since it could not be used elsewhere except where they registered.
What then will happen to the unclaimed PVCs? Will they be kept in the store of INEC? The feeling in some quarters is that they may become sure tools for rigging elections!
We are daily inundated with media slogans that PVCs are being distributed at polling units or registration centers, yet it is either the re-registration officers could not be located or the PVCs could not be retrieved. Were the officers not sent by INEC or were they intercepted by politicians? Whichever is the case, the voting populace will bear the consequences.
INEC Chairman has truly given directives and assurances on this, but it is quite obvious there are a lot of saboteurs in the system.
The presence of massive party supporters at the campaign rallies, whether rented or otherwise, is not a surety for winning or losing elections, it is rather the ability of the electorates to exercise their rights at the poll come February 14 and 28.
The numbers of Facebook posts, status, likes or shares are never an indicator for success, not until it is put to action by voting the right candidates. The tweets and trends on twitter are only the counting of most mentioned words or discussed topics and may not necessarily determine the popular candidates.
I have a lot of friends and colleagues who could not get their PVCs after making several efforts that claimed both precious time and money, but to no avail.
Does INEC have any solution to these problems? It is essential for the commission’s boss, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to ensure adequate protection of the unclaimed or un-tendered PVCs.
The electoral body should also do its best to be truly independent and not be subdued to unwarranted fear or favour. All staff, permanent or ad-hoc, should work selflessly and tirelessly to ensuring a credible, free, fair and acceptable elections and not subject themselves to the selfish use of politicians.
Electorates, who have their PVCs, must realise that sitting on the fence may allow wrong candidates to emerge. Hence, they should use their thumbs to bring about continuity or the change they desire.
Where you are denied of your PVC, you should rather work as a canvasser for change and stand to defend the polling exercise against injustice and atrocities.
In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “change does not roll on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man cannot ride you unless your back is bent”.
Let us all know that the change we desire is in us and should not be obscured with sentiments of known incompetence to unknown competence. The Creator will never change the condition of His creatures until the creatures are ready to change their condition themselves, either by their action, words or heart.
Fasanya is a law student of the Lagos State University, (LASU)