Nigeria: Groups Partner to Increase Voter Turnout, PVC Collection Ahead 2023 Poll

The groups launched PVC Bus Drive project, to encourage meaningful participation of Nigerian youthmong other age groups in Nigeria’s coming general elections.

A non-governmental organisation, WeVote, on Wednesday, launched PVC Bus Drive project, to encourage meaningful participation of Nigerian youth and other age groups in Nigeria’s coming general elections.

The project, launched in Abuja in partnership with YIAGA Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and NESSACTION is aimed at boosting the level of voters’ registration and turnout in the country.

Nigeria has recorded a sharp decline in voter turnout in the last two general elections as well as the off-cycle conducted in some states over the years, a development many believe have contributed to the country’s unimpressive level of development. .

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Tuesday, bemoaned the high number of uncollected Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) despite its efforts to encourage more citizens’ participation in the 2023 elections.

About 20 million PVCs out of the over 84 million copies printed ahead of the 2019 general elections remain uncollected by the electorates.

“Ahead of the 2019 general elections, there were 84 million PVCs. I think close to 20 million (PVCs have not been collected),” the commission’s National Commissioner of FCT, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau States, Mohammed Haruna, disclosed at the launch of a similar campaign in Nasarawa State.

To reduce a similar record ahead of the 2023 polls, the WeVote’s PVC Bus Drive project is to provide buses for people at different rural locations in Abuja, Ondo and Ogun to various INEC offices and back at no cost.

Getting more youth involved

The convener of the initiative, Obinna Osisiogu, at the launch attended by INEC officials, CSOs and media organisations, said the project will help those without financial means but want to register or obtain their PVCs as the exercise gradually comes to a close.

“The essence of this project is to fix, forestall or ameliorate the low voter turnout we have seen in some states. We have identified 15 states across the country with less than 100,000 voters registration.

“We have also observed the high level of uncollected PVCs in various states across the country and since we have one month till the end of the exercise, this project was designed to ensure that we get more people to obtain their PVCs by providing transportation and logistics in remote areas in the country,” Mr Osisiogu said.

With the project tagged #SixtyPercentOfUs, the convener said the goal is ensure that at least 60 per cent of the Nigeria youth population vote in the coming election.

‘INEC does not conduct election on social media’

In her remarks, INEC Deputy Director, Voter Education, Mary Nkem, lamented the low turnout of registrants since commencement of the exercise.

“If the youth in this country would come out en masse to vote, turnout the way they should, we will no longer be recording the 20, 30 percent or 15 percent we have witnessed because we know that the votes of the youth demographic alone, even if other demographics don’t show up, the turnout would still be high,” she said.

Ms Nkem also seized the moment to comment on the youth acceptance of social media in discussing national issues without exhausting similar gestures in casting their votes.

“INEC does not conduct elections on social media neither do we count ballots on Twitter or Instagram. It is only the ballot paper that enters the ballot box that INEC counts,” she warned.

Her position was further reiterated by the commission’s Deputy Director, CSO Division, Ndidi Okafor, who expressed her disappointing experience with electorates in Ekiti State.

She narrated her encounter with the state’s electorates promoting vote buying.

Ms Okafor said she was disturbed by the notion of “Edi Bo Ese Obe” which can be loosely translated as “Vote and Cook Soup” and widely encouraged among the electorates she trained in the state.

The Ekiti State governorship election is one of the off-cycle elections in the country. The state will elect its new governor on June 18.

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