The Independent National Electoral Commission on Wednesday raised fears about the 2023 elections following the 20 million Permanent Voter Cards which were said to be lying unclaimed in its vault.
The commission also criticized the poor participation of citizens in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise.
INEC Deputy Director (Voter Education), Mary Nkem, stated these in Abuja during the launch of the PVC Bus Drive project, organised by a non-governmental organisation, the Advocacy for Civic Engagement.
She, therefore, called on Nigerians, especially the youth population to be actively involved in the process of electing new leaders that would effect true change and move the country forward.
According to her, it is votes and not social media that would determine the winners of the 2023 general elections.
Nkem said, “This CVR exercise began on June 30 2021; but we have discovered that between that time and a few weeks ago, the turnout has been relatively low.
“If the youths in this country would come out en masse to cast their votes, we will no longer be recording 15 or 20 per cent voter turnout in our elections, because we know that the population of the youths alone can make a difference.
“The youths no longer visit the social media, they basically live there today. Therefore, when you want to reach out to them, you must go to where you will meet them – social media.
“However, I will like to say that INEC does not conduct an election on social media neither do we count ballots on Twitter or Instagram.
“Our ballots are counted in the ballot box. It is only the ballot paper that enters into the ballot box that the commission counts.
“So, what does that mean? It means that on election day people must go out to cast their votes. For you to be able to do so, you must be a registered voter and in possession of a PVC.”
The Executive Director, Advocacy for Civic Engagement, Obinna Osisiogu, said that PVC Bus Drive Project would support at least 60 per cent of eligible young voters to register, collect their Permanent Voters Cards and vote in the 2023 elections.
According to him, the project was initiated to eliminate the logistical barriers hindering some Nigerians, particularly those residing in rural areas from participating in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise and collecting their PVCs thereafter.
Osisiogu explained that ACE working in collaboration with Yiaga Africa and the UNDP would provide free bus service in two area councils in the FCT, as well as across the LGAs in Ondo and Ogun states to enable the people to access the INEC office nearest to them as part of the traditional and non-traditional means of political mobilisation.