No fewer than 108,000 registered voters will not be able to vote in the November 11 Governorship election in Kogi state,the Resident Electoral Commissioner Gabriel Longpet has said.
The figure represents the number of registered Voters who have refused to show up for the collection of their Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs during last collection window of 10th September to 9th October 2023.
In an exclusive interview with our correspondent in his Lokoja office the Resident Electoral Commissioner said as at the close of the collection window on the 15th October,only 20, 000 PVCs have been collected out of the outstanding 128,000 left uncollected before the general election of February 2023.
“The last day was 9th October for collection of PVCs,we identified the number yet to be collected to be 128,000 uncollected PVCs in Kogi state,the commission thought it wise to give more people opportunity to come forward and collect theirs, since majority of those affected were those who have requested for transfer and those who have defaced their cards . We have since gone through and I am sad to say that within the period of four weeks we are not able to distribute to people the number of PVCs. People didn’t come to collect , actually,just about 20,000 out of the 128,000 were collected during the period of the four weeks.”Dr Longpet said.
On steps being put in place to ease accessibility to flood prone area the Resident Electoral Commissioner said that such area as Ibaji,Kupa,Egon and other areas already identified would be given special consideration.
“We are talking to the Airforce and Navy to see the possibility of making use of their Aircrafts and boat for conveying both personnel and electoral materials to and from those areas” he said
Dr Longpet also commented on Ad-hoc staff which he said would be warned not to use any bank not recognised by the Central Bank of Nigeria to avoid delay in payment of their wages after the election.
“Some of those who experienced delay in payment of their wages Last time were those who used online banks that were not recognised by the CBN like ‘opay, Palmpay,Kuda and other online banks. We will not accept those bank this time around to avoid unpleasant experience of not getting paid at at when due
REC:The time has come and gone,the last day was 9th October for collection of PVCs,we identified the number yet to be 128,000 uncollected PVCs in Kogi state,the commission thought it wise to give more people opportunity to come forward and collect theirs,that majority of those affected were those who have requested for transfer and those who have defaced their cards we have since gone through and I am sad to say that within the period of four weeks we are not able to distribute to people the number of PVCs. People didn’t come to collect , actually,just about 20,000 out of the 128,000 were collected during the period of the four weeks.
There have been threats of violence here and there in the state,are you concerned about this?
Yes, I am concerned but I cannot just ignore and be oblivious to what is happening around me, but my expectation is that there are laws directing what the politicians should do and what the electorates should do and there are also consequences for any one that runs foul of the laws, I don’t have the power of arrest,mine is to provide the rule and necessary frame work and talk to people as I have been doing 9n radio, television and various other means of communication that people have and obligation that they need to know what law says,that don’t campaign with miasquerade for instance,no weapons,no use of thugs,no use of foul languages and that every organ of government should be put on alert to enable political parties embark in successful campaign or canvass for votes so that we would have a pleasant experience on the 11th.
But what have been happening and what we have been hearing is something that in the domain of the security agencies to handle,I can only point out to them what the politicians are doing it not doing and allow them take charge from there.
What is the position of INEC on the use of electronic transmission of results on the election day
REC: It baffles me that people are still asking the same question in spite of explanation already given. The no electronic transmission of results,we upload results from poling units after the scores are recorded on form EC8A and BVAS used to snap scores of each political parties from form EC8A and transmitted through I-REV to the collation center. That is another level of transparency INEC is trying to introduce. In the past when people used to results getting mutilated before getting to the collation center,in this case, the actual result had already been transmitted and is available on the I-REV to aide the collation officer who will have a look at that and compare it with the physical one that will be brought to the collation center by hand and see if there are discrepancies,he doesn’t have to collate that result ,but it matches withe one transmitted through the I-REV,then it’s okay. So INEC is not saying there will be electronic transmission of results,but there will be uploading of results from the poling units to the collation center.
Why are we having stakeholders meetings where various issues bothering on the election would be exhaustively trashed before the election,but that has not happened in this election,why?
That’s not true, in fact just last Friday,there was a meeting with civil society organisations,there were also meetings with chief Executive of media houses here in Kogi by the national commission for voters Education together with the Chief press secretary to the Chairman who were here. We also held stakeholders meetings with political parties,I think the last one we held with political parties was in the 12th of this month where we officially handed the voters register to all the registered political parties that are contesting this election. We also used such forums to appeal to politicians to abide by the rules in the aspect of campaigns and rallies. We ‘ve been holding stakeholders meetings various groups,youths women and the new group,namely Young voters group,so consultations been ongoing.
What plans do you have in place for the riverine areas and those areas that might experience flood during the election?
REC: We be made adequate arrangements. Before now, officers from headquarters were here to assess our registration area centres, RAC centers where our materials are going to be kept before the day of election. We have identified those places where think flood might affect and have also made alternative arrangements to relocate those centers and poling units to higher grounds where they would be able to cast their votes. For instance, Ganaja primary school which is one of our voting centres,was flooded last year and we are envisaging such scenario this year and we have made alternative arrangements. So our RAC center in Ganaja have been relocated to a higher ground and last week when the Chairmen came here,he was informed. So we have made arrangements so ensure that no one is denied the voting rights.
How much of assurance have you be able to get from the security agencies for the election.
REC:We have the ICES , that’s inter Consultative service on Securities,we held one recently,it involves the police,the Commissioner of police who is the co-chair I am the Chairman,we have DSS,Army, Immigration, Civil Defence ,including ICPC,EFCC and all those who are supposed to provide Securities, we have identified those places likely to pose challenges in terms of security. The committee in conjunction with others agencies are working towards ensuring that we have adequate Securities. We have also identified those area like Bagana where there farmers/herders clashes, people no longer live where they used to live,we have made arrangements for their relocation to safer place where the will cast their votes. There are none poling units that are affected in Bagana ,we have made adequate provision to ensure that people vote without any fear.
The same thing with those areas such as Kupa, Egon hard to reach you have to go through Kwara or Niger states before you can get to theses places,we have made adequate arrangements to ensure that even if we can’t move the materials by road there are alternative arrangements for materials to get there using helicopters. We are talking to Airforce to see the possibilities of assisting us with the use of their aircrafts to reach those areas. We have also embarked on training poling officer domicile in those areas to reduce the risk of our adhoc having to travel with the attendant risks involved.
How many Adoc staff has been recruited so far?
REC: We haven’t finalised recruitments, training of poling officers was fine last Monday and Tuesday. Today we verified the indentities of those we have training,On Friday Saturday and Sunday,we will train the presiding offices, Assistance presiding offices ,after which we will recruit those we will use,we know the number we need before training the collation officers. So we have not recruited single person,but we have trained people already.we are in the process of verifying their identities.
One of the problems that normally follow the usage of Ad-hoc staff is delay in the payment of their allowances,has that been taken care of?
REC: For the February election,for us in Kogi here ,we make every effort to ensure that every body that participated was paid but unfortunately,these days you have all kinds of bank accounts such as O’pay, Palmpay,Kuda and so one which are not recognised by the Central Bank of Nigeria. When money is paid into these accounts they are rejected, other aspect is that people use the accounts of their relatives whose will not tally with that of the person that was engaged for the election,we have to call them back to give us a alternative bank account. Last week, when we are told that we have not paid 57 Ad-hoc staff,and when we went through our records,we discovered that some of them have been paid through the alternative bank account, what we do is to ask them to print out their account statements to confirm that they have been paid. But this time around,we will not accept O’pay Palmpay but the real bank accounts.