President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the Independent National Electoral Commission Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to ensure that all registered Nigerians got their Permanent Voter Cards before next month’s general elections.
Jonathan said after swearing-in the INEC national commissioner representing Oyo State, Prof. Akinola Salau, in Abuja on Wednesday that the nation could not afford to organise a general election where some people would be disenfranchised.
He said, “So the chairman of INEC, all Nigerians must get voter cards; we cannot conduct an election where some people will not have the rights to vote on election days.
“People must decide who should rule them at all levels through elections conducted by INEC.”
The President told Jega that he had heard some Nigerians, including governors, complaining that they had yet to get their PVCs.
He however said he was pleased with the complaints because they indicated Nigerians confidence in the nation’s electoral process.
The President said, “To me, I am quite pleased, not pleased in the negative sense, about the awareness that has come on board. Nigerians want to have their voter cards.
“Before 2011, no Nigerian complained about voter cards and that’s why when some politicians talk, I just laugh.
“Some people came on board and sanitised the electoral process but others want to take the glory. We have to commend ourselves. People should commend us.”
Jonathan advised INEC to be neutral in conducting the elections because the eyes of the world would be on Nigeria.
Jega later told State House correspondents that he would ensure that every registered Nigerian got his PVC before February 14.
Reps summon Jega, stakeholders Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has summoned Jega and other stakeholders to a meeting to deliberate on INEC’s readiness for the general elections.
The meeting will take place on January 20, according to a notice issued on Wednesday by the House Committee on Electoral Matters.
The committee is chaired by. Mr. Jerry Manwe, a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker from Taraba State.
Part of the notice, which was signed by the Acting Clerk to the committee, Mr. Oscar Okoro, reads, “The purpose of this event is to underscore the current burning issues on 2015 general elections and to proffer necessary solutions.”
The committee explained that issues such as security, the level of funding for INEC and how internally displaced persons would vote during the elections would be discussed.
The invitation to Jega and the stakeholders confirmed an exclusive story by The PUNCH on December 29 that the committee would meet with the INEC boss in January on the preparations for the polls.
Manwe, who earlier revealed the committee’s plan, had raised concerns over security and funding.
He had said, “We expect credible,free and fair polls ordinarily, but this will again depend on funding for INEC and security.
“ Our committee will summon Jega to speak with us on the level of preparedness for the elections. Jega has to come and meet with the committee because there are sensitive issues we have to look at; one of them is insecurity.
“Funding and security play a role in the credibility of elections; so, we will have to look at all these with the INEC chairman.”
In June last year, the House had raised the alarm over alleged shortfall in funding for INEC, especially for the 2015 polls.
After going through the proposals for the 2014 budget, the committee said it found out that out of N120bn the commission proposed for the 2015 elections, the Budget Office of the Federation only made a provision for N45bn.
“Out of the N120bn that INEC proposed, only N45bn was given to the commission by government.
“It means that the commission is short of a huge difference of N75bn.
“As the Committee on Electoral Matters, our work is to alert the relevant authorities to our findings and the implications for the 2015 elections”, the committee had warned.