As I write this, this afternoon, Monday 23rd January 2023, the sign on the website of the Independent National Electoral Commission, https://inecnigeria.org/ says there are 32 days, 19 hours, 28 minutes, 27 seconds to the Presidential and National Assembly Elections on Saturday 25th February 2023.
And INEC says it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections that would serve as a benchmark for the future.
As far as the Commission is concerned, it has done, is doing and will do its own; what is left is for us Nigerians to do out bit and be ready to exercise our civic duty of electing those to lead the country at the different levels of government come next month.
Because of complaints by several citizens about their inability to collect their voters cards, the Commission recently extended the collection date of Permanent Voters Cards to next Sunday, January 29th, instead of the earlier scheduled 22nd January, 2023.
INEC explained that it extended the pick-up period because it was encouraged by the turnout of registered voters and the surge in the number of collected PVCs across the country and is determined to ensure that registered voters have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the forthcoming elections.
The Commission said it is also investigating allegations of extortion by officials at some of the collection centres and inducement by some unscrupulous voters to circumvent processes, in order to obtain their PVCs, assuring that those found culpable will face disciplinary action and/or prosecution.
On allegations of discriminatory issuance of PVCs in some locations, INEC said this is against the law, as all bonafide registrants are entitled to their PVCs and to use them to vote on Election Day in any part of the country where they are registered. Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) have been directed to ensure that no such practices occur nationwide and take immediate disciplinary action against violators.
For the record, INEC has printed 13,868,441 PVCs for all new valid registrants as well as applicants for transfer or replacement of cards.
So now that the ball is in our court, the onus is on us to ensure that we are ready for D-Day – Saturday 25th February 2023 for Presidential and National Assembly Election as well as Saturday 11th March 2023 for Governorship and State Assembly Election. Everyone is qualified to vote if they are registered as voters and their names appear on the register of voters at the appropriate polling station.
You must therefore ensure that after collecting your PVC, you know all the steps to take on the two Election Days so that you cast your votes and the votes count.
INEC has listed the practical steps to take on Election Day, in line with the approved Voting Procedures.
On each D-Day, the polling stations are expected to open for accreditation of voters and actual voting from 8:00am to 2.00pm. Accreditation and voting will be on simultaneously. Voters on the queue before the close of poll at 2:00pm will be accredited and allowed to vote.
The procedure for voting at the polling unit will be as follows:
- At the polling unit, join the queue. An INEC official will check if you are at the correct polling unit and confirm that the PVC presented belongs to you.
- An INEC official will confirm if your PVC is genuine using the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).
- An INEC official will ask for your PVC and confirm you are listed in the Voters Register. Your name will be ticked and your finger will be inked to confirm you have voted. If your name is not found in the register, you cannot vote.
- The Presiding officer will stamp, sign and endorse your ballot paper. You will be given the ballot paper rolled with the printed side inwards and directed to the voting cubicle.
- Stain your finger with the ink given and mark the box for your preferred candidate/party. Roll the ballot paper in the manner you were given and flatten it.
- Leave the voting cubicle and drop the ballot paper in the ballot box in full view of people at the Polling Unit.
- Leave the Polling Unit or wait if you so choose to, in an orderly and peaceful manner, to watch the process up to declaration of result.
- The result of each Polling Unit shall be pasted at the Polling Station for everyone to see
If you have used your PVC in previous elections, now is the time to look for where you kept it. Do not wait until a day before the election before you start to search every part of your house, wallet or drawer. Get your PVC ready NOW! Just one more week to do so!!
Have you forgotten where you voted in the previous election or you just want to satisfy yourself that your polling unit/station has not moved?
Use the following link: https://cvr.inecnigeria.org/vvs. You can check your voter status by entering your details in the form on the page, by entering your state of registration, name and date of birth.
Like the Boys Scout, “Be Prepared”, “Be Ready” for D-Day.