**INEC returns collection to local government offices

**Lack of funds may stall further extension – INEC source

**Local chiefs not warehousing PVCs in Lagos — INEC

**Akeredolu declares tomorrow work- free day

**Ogun declares Tuesday, Wednesday work-free days

**No INEC staff, Apete, Ayegun, Awotan residents laments

The collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) at the wards ended yesterday, with some centers experiencing delays. Some stakeholders have called for an extension of the exercise. According to INEC’s schedule, starting today, those who have not yet picked up their voter cards will need to go to their local government headquarters to do so. The deadline for collection is January 29th.

Despite low turnout at some centers, yesterday saw high turnout at others, with some registrants unable to collect their cards.

Lack of funds may stall further extension – INEC source

According to sources at INEC, the collection of PVCs at the wards was not extended due to lack of funding. “There is no budget for allowances paid to the electoral officers for distribution of the cards,” said the source. The source urged those who have not yet collected their PVCs to visit their local government offices between now and January 29. These statements came amid allegations that some traditional leaders and district heads were hoarding cards and assisting INEC with their distribution.

No INEC staff, Apete- Ayegun-Awotan residents lament

Residents of Apete-Ayegun-Awotan in Ido Local Government Area of Oyo State have criticized the INEC staff for their lack of presence in distributing the PVCs. This area, which comprises 12 polling units, was visited by Vanguard and it was found that there was no INEC staff present at Saint Peter School, Apete Primary School, Idi Oro Elewe, and I.D.C. Primary School in Awotan to distribute the PVCs to registrants.

Residents interviewed by Vanguard said that since the start of the exercise, INEC officials responsible for distributing the PVCs have only visited a few times. One registrant, Mr. Kunle Adebayo, said: “We are calling on the REC to ensure that their staff are doing their job. We came out to collect the PVCs but no INEC official was here.

Another resident, Mathew Adeola, also expressed frustration: “There is no organization here. They are supposed to use one window for collection and another for distribution, but they are using both for the same thing which makes the place look chaotic. We have to be careful because of pickpockets. There should be security here, as street boys are already making threats based on party loyalty. The presence of police would curb their behavior,” she said.

Kemi Adetola also expressed her frustration: “The exercise was supposed to start by 8.00a.m but it was delayed in most of the centers. Even when the officials arrived, there were no PVCs to distribute.” An INEC official, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the slow distribution was the fault of the residents.

According to the INEC official, many residents did not have their registration slips, which he stated was part of the challenges in distributing the PVCs.

Tough nut in Alimosho

Collecting their PVCs at the designated venue, a primary school in Agbado Area of the city, is proving to be a difficult task for some people in Agbado/ Oke Odo Local Council Development Area in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State. The large crowds that gather at the venue daily and the slow pace of work have caused many prospective voters to give up on the process. A journalist for a national newspaper, Adesina, recounted how he had been to the venue twice without receiving his card.

“The first time I came, the crowd was just too much and we were asked to write our names on a sheet of paper. By the time I wrote mine, I was 400 on the list. With the slow pace of how they attend to people, it might take two days to get to me. I left without wasting much time.

“The second time I went there, I was able to get in and at the end of the day, I was told that my PVC has not been printed and that I should go to the headquarters of Alimosho Local Government in Ikotun at the end of January. That was the fate of many people that went there and many left in annoyance. We were told that some cards are with community leaders and some politicians. How the cards got to such people, we don’t know,” he said.

An engineer, who gave his name as Banji, was taken aback when he was told that he should go to Egbe-Idimu to check for his card.

“I live in Meiran area which is under Agbado Oke Odo LCDA and I would not know why I should be directed to an area outside where I registered. To me, the situation is like they don’t want as many people as possible to get their cards and manipulation of elections starts from exercises such as this,” he said.

Local chiefs not warehousing PVCs in Lagos — INEC

Speaking on the issue, the Lagos INEC described allegations that local chiefs otherwise called Baales are warehousing PVCs and are also helping the commission in distribution as “obnoxious.”
Lagos INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Olusegun Agbaje in a phone chat with Vanguard, said the allegation was obnoxious and meant to distract the commission.
He said: “I am not aware of it. It is strange to me because we have 20 local government areas in Lagos, which of the local governments in particular? Sometimes journalists are not helping matters. They should help probe information to help the system work effectively.
“As far as I am concerned, how do we investigate it? As you and I know we have so many Baales across Lagos. It has no basis and such an allegation is obnoxious with the sole aim to distract us.”   

Akeredolu declares tomorrow work- free day

Meanwhile Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has approved Tuesday, January 24, 2023 a work-free day to enable all eligible voters in the state collect their PVCs

Akeredolu, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, urged civil servants, private workers, artisans, and other well-meaning residents of the state who are eligible voters to seize the opportunity and collect their PVCs. 

He called on the people to place a premium on the collection of cards to enable them exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections. 

“The importance of the forthcoming elections cannot be over emphasised. There is an urgent need for us to address the low rate of PVCs collection in the South-West. 

“Beyond partisan lines, it is imperative that our people understand that the PVC is their license to enthrone desired political leadership. 

“We are constrained to take this decision to enable our people to take this advantage and collect their PVCs. It’s important that we all exercise our civic responsibilities. 

The governor added that “All political appointees and other government functionaries are also directed to return to their local governments and wards to encourage our people to collect their PVCs.

Ogun declares Tueday, Wednesday as work-free days

In like manner, the Ogun State Government has declared January 24 and 25  as work-free days for workers in the state public service to enable them collect their PVCs according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin.

“Following the extension of Permanent Voter Cards collection till Sunday, January 29, 2023, by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Governor Dapo Abiodun has graciously approved two days – Tuesday, 24th and Wednesday, 25th January as work-free days to enable public servants to collect their PVCs from their respective local governments.

“Governor Abiodun also enjoined all executive members of public markets and private establishments in the state to allow flexibility in their schedules for residents to use the opportunity to visit the Independent National Electoral Commission’s offices or collection centres where they registered to collect their PVCs.”

The governor said that voting is a civic responsibility, and all eligible citizens must be allowed to exercise their rights to choose who governs them.

Source: Vanguard News

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