By Dominic James
Friday 27th January 2023
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed Saturday 4th February for the mock accreditation exercise at which some of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System Machines (BVAS) procured for the 2023 General Election will be tested. The Commission has also commended Nigerians for showing enthusiasm to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC).
Speaking at the Commission’s meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) which began today in Abuja, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said that having taken delivery of and tested the BVAS machines procured for the general election, the next step “is to conduct field tests across the country involving actual voters in readiness for nationwide deployment.” The Commission conducted a similar mock accreditation exercise ahead of the Ekiti and Osun State governorship elections.
According to Prof. Yakubu, 12 polling units have been designated in each State of the Federation and four in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on the equality of the country’s 109 Senatorial Districts for the exercise. A comprehensive list of the polling units, including their names, PU Code numbers and distribution by State, Senatorial District, Local Government and Registration Area (Ward) will subsequently be uploaded to the Commission’s website.
The INEC Chairman appealed to registered voters in the designated polling units to appear on the scheduled date with their PVCs for the mock exercise. He explained: “Doing so will help to reassure the public of the robustness of our system and to strengthen our processes ahead of the General Election. Civil society organisations, the media and the general public are welcome to observe the process. At the end of the exercise, the 436 BVAS machines involved will be reconfigured before they are deployed for the General Election.”
On PVC collection, Prof Yakubu said the Commission was encouraged by the determination of Nigerians to collect their cards. However, he also acknowledged a few issues to be addressed.
His words: “The Commission is encouraged by the determination of registered voters nationwide to collect their PVCs and the actual level of collection so far. For instance, in Lagos State, which has the highest number of registered voters in the country, the Commission delivered 940,200 PVCs from the recent voter registration exercise (June 2021 to July 2022) for both new registrants and requests for transfer and replacement of cards.
“As of yesterday Thursday 26th January 2023, 839,720 PVCs have been collected, representing 89.3% of the total figure. This meeting with RECs will consider reports from other States of the Federation and the Commission will not hesitate to consider additional measures to ensure that all citizens have ample opportunity to collect their PVCs ahead of the General Election. We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will always be responsive to the needs of the electorate.”
With exactly four weeks to the general election on 25th February 2023, Prof. Yakubu also affirmed the Commission’s readiness for the polls. His words: “I am glad to report that movement of materials for the election to various locations nationwide is being concluded. Training of officials will commence shortly. Ongoing consultations with stakeholders will be intensified. Airlifting and delivery of sensitive materials to States of the Federation has gone far. Accreditation of national and international observers and the media is being finalised. Critical service providers in the area of transportation have reassured us of their commitment to efficient logistics for the movement of materials and personnel to various locations while the security agencies have reaffirmed their readiness for the election.”