There has been allegations and counter-allegations of the purchase of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) by political parties in the country ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) feature prominently in these allegations.
In August 2018, the Chairman of APC in Yobe State, Alhaji Adamu Chilariye accused the PDP of illegally buying the PVCs of unsuspecting members of the public.
The same allegation was made by pro-APC group, Dennis Idahosa Campaign Organisation, last month, alleging that the PDP is buying PVCs from residents of Ovia Federal Constituency of Edo.
The Director General of the campaign organisation, Mr Charity Amayanevbo, made the allegation while speaking with newsmen in Benin.
According to Amayanevbo, the opposition party buys a PVC for N5,000 from the registered voters in the federal constituency.
In August 2018, Sahara Reporters, reported that traders have been asked to present their Voter Identification Number (VIN) before they can be granted the Federal Government collateral free loan (Trader Moni).
The request for VIN was contained in the Trader Moni application form.
Apart from VIN, which is described as “Permanent Voter Card (PVC) Number”were Bank Verification Number, occupation and market address.
Last week Thursday, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), in Oyo State, Barrister Mutiu Agboke, told journalists that some politicians in the state had approached the commission in order to buy PVCs.
The story of vote buying is common in virtually all the states of the federation and unfortunately, some voters are ready to do ” business” with the politicians because of high rate of poverty in the country as a result of poor economic conditions the country is facing currently.
All these point to the fact that INEC has a lot to do in order to ensure that these desperate politicians who are hell bent in truncating the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in February and March, do not succeed.
There is need for massive sensitisation campaign in all nooks and crannies of the country to educate the voter on the implications of selling their PVCs.
The commission needs to partner credible and nonpartisan Non- governmental Organizations (NGOs), the media, international organizations and foreign missions of various countries in Nigeria like the United State Department for International Development (DFID) and others for an effective and efficient sensitization campaign against the selling and buying of PVCs.
The commission as a matter of exigency should put structures in place to ensure that its database is not hacked by these criminal elements who do not want the growth of our democracy.
As the elections draw closer, the commission should fix the final date for the collection of PVCs by those who are yet to collect theirs.
This is very important, so that the uncollected ones will be deactivated to avoid giving room for the manipulation of the electoral process by unscrupulous politicians.
Both the permanent and ad-hoc members of staff of the commission should be trained and retrained on the ethics of their jobs and constantly be reminded of the consequences of professional misconduct and unethical practices. This will put them on their toes in the discharge of the responsibilities and save the name of the commission.
INEC should also liaise with security agencies for intelligent gathering and open its doors for the people to lodge complaints or report such matter to the commission. This will help so that action can be taking immediately and punishment meted out against culprits. This will help to ensure synergy between the commission, security agencies and the people.
Our democracy is still fragile and nascent. Anything that is capable of jeopardizing it, must be avoided. Therefore, INEC must use all necessary weapon in its arsenal to combat the scourge of PVC buying and save our democracy.