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Nigerians Flock To Get PVCs As 2023 Election Looms

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Braving stressful waits, red tape, and repeated visits, Nigerians are rushing to pick up their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for next month’s presidential election, where three main candidates are vying to replace President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nearly 10 million new voters have been registered for the February 25 ballot, of whom 84 percent are young people aged under 34 — a key block of ballots.

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The election in Africa’s most populous country is shaping up to be an exceptional event.

For the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999, a third-party candidate is presenting a real challenge to the dominance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

With Nigeria struggling with growing insecurity, high living costs, and increasing poverty, many young voters said they were keener now to have a say about their future leader.

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Crowds gathered at Lagos schools over the weekend where election officials called out names, checked off lists, and handed out a coveted ID, the biometric Permanent Voters Cards or PVC.

Some would-be voters were successful but others were frustrated to be told to come back.

“They told me my PVC is not ready. They have to go back to Abuja,” said Chuks David, a software developer in Lagos’ Surulere area.

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“We need to get things right, and that is why I am taking the time and the stress to get my PVC.”

The Independent National Electoral Commission, known as INEC, last week extended the deadline for PVC collection by eight days.

In some states 100,000 cards were collected in just five days, it said.

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Picking up her card in Lagos State’s Alimosho district, first-time voter Gbemisola Akindola said she hadn’t seen the need for change in 2019. But this year, she said she was determined to have her say.

“Right now something is very very clear, that it’s time we transition to the younger generation ruling us and that’s why, if I don’t do it now, when would I do it?”

An official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sort out Permanent Voters cards (PVC) of voters at a ward in Lagos on January 12, 2023, ahead of the February 25 presidential election. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

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Nigeria’s elections in the past have been marred by logistical delays, violence, and claims of fraud and vote buying.

In 2019, INEC was forced to postpone the election by a week just hours before voting was scheduled to start because of difficulty getting material to polling stations.

Election officials say 2023’s ballot will be more transparent after the introduction of electronic transfer of results and a biometric voter identification technology known as BVAS at the voting stations to stop fraud.

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“This instilled confidence in our people,” Adenike Tadese, INEC head of voter education in Lagos, told AFP.

“I want to believe that is why our people are trooping out en masse to ensure that they come out to collect this Permanent Voting Card.”

‘Great and Proud’

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People queue to collect their permanent voter’s card (PVC) at the INEC office in AMAC, Area 10 Abuja on Wednesday, December 14, 2022. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun

Whoever wins the presidency faces a host of challenges from tackling insecurity across the country to reviving an economy hit hard by financial fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The security forces are fighting a 13-year-old war against jihadists in the country’s northeast, bandit militias in the northwest, and separatist tensions in the country’s southeast.

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Gunmen have repeatedly targeted local INEC offices in the southeast, burning voting materials in attacks often blamed on the Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB separatist movement.

INEC warned earlier this month that the election risked postponement or disruption if security was not tackled. The government says measures are in place to guarantee the vote.

Buhari’s APC has fielded Bola Tinubu, 70, a former governor known as the “godfather of Lagos” for his political clout who will benefit from the ruling party’s national network.

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PDP’s Atiku Abubakar, 76, is a former vice president and wealthy businessman who is on his sixth bid for the presidency.

A former Anambra state governor and Labour Party’s Peter Obi, 61, has appealed to younger voters with a message that he is different from his old-guard rivals and wants to bring real change to Nigeria.

Voter turnout is often low in Nigeria — it was just 33 percent in 2019 — and many younger people often say they feel little enthusiasm for candidates.

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But two years ago, mass protests over police brutality spiralled into rallies demanding better governance known as the #EndSARS movement, a reference to the SARS police unit that was later disbanded.

But the younger generation would be looking to the 2023 ballot box to make their demands.

“It’s important that I play my part, and pick up my PVC,” said Opeoluwa Adekoya, 27, in the Surulere district.

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“If things don’t work out in Nigeria, yes, the government is to blame, but I have my responsibility.”

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JUST IN: IMF ask CBN to extend Feb 10 deadline for old naira notes

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By Francesca Iwambe

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to extend the February 10 deadline for the use of old naira notes if the difficulties in getting new notes persist.

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According to the IMF, the call become necessary as the development had led to the disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new noted in the bank.

The call was contained in a statement made available to journalists on Wednesday.

“In light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline, should problems persist in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline,” the statement reads.

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BREAKING: Supreme Court suspends February 10 deadline for naira swap

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By Francesca Iwambe, Abuja

The Supreme Court of Nigeria has restrained the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Federal Government from ending the legal tender statuses of old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes on February 10, 2023.

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The apex court made the order following the suit filed by three State governments challenging the Naira swap policy.

Recall that governments of Kaduna, Zamfara and Kogi States had approached the Supreme Court seeking an order to stop the policy.

Naijablitznews.com will bring you more details shortly

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CBN captures more Communities as currency swap is continuous in Taraba

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Emmanuel Awari-Jalingo

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Friday extend her currency swap exercise to more Communities of Yorro, Ardo-Kola and Ibi local government areas of Taraba state.

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The Director Financial System Strategy, Central Bank of Nigeria, Ibrahim Hassan who disclosed this to our correspondent in Jalingo said, the development was in continuation of the CBN initiative targeted at ensuring that all rural dwellers in Taraba have their old naira notes swapped to new ones or deposited in banks before the extended CBN deadline for currency swap.

Hassan noted that the currency Swap Initiative was to help save communities who do not have access to bank, swap their old naira notes to the new notes.

“Just as we have been doing to ensure that people in the rural Communities of Taraba who do not have access to Bank have their old naira notes swap to new ones. CBN delegation have been drafted to more Communities of Yorro, Ardo-Kola and Ibi local to ensure success of the initiative.

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“CBN delegation for Yorro is led by Mr Jackson Imandi, the Deputy Director, the one Ardo-Kola is led by Mr. Kazeem Olatinmu while the one in Ibi local government is been led by the CBN Head of Banking Services in Taraba State, Hayatu Yahaya Shehu to ensure the villagers gain advantage of the Ten days extension for the currency swap” Hassan explained.

When contacted, the chief of Mumuye in Yorro local government, Ado Adamu Manang, that of Ibi, Abubakar Salihu Danbaw and some beneficiary of the exercise in Ardo-Kola local government, Mohammed Musa, Hafsatu Babangida and Isa Mahmud, commended the central Bank of Nigeria for the exercise as it was the best for villagers and promised to help create massive awareness for people to swap their old naira notes to the new ones.

According to them, businesses were already collapsing as people were no longer accepting the old naira notes even before the extended window.

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