Yusuf Alli.THE NATION. May 9, 2013
INEC, in a document made available by its Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kayode Idowu, said there would be no fresh voters’ registration. The Permanent Voters Cards(PVCs) to be issued to Nigerians will last 10 years.
The commission said after 10 years, the National Identity Card will be used by eligible voters. INEC said it would sell off 78, 000 units of the laptop component of its DDC machines since it would no longer conduct voters registration.
The document was released against the backdrop of insinuations that about N566.2billion was spent on the elections.
The document said: “However, contrary to lingering speculations, the actual cost of the 2011 elections, including all costs involved in the voter registration exercise is N66.3 billion for Recurrent Expenditure and N56.6 billion for Capital Expenditure – making a total of N122.9 billion or, if you like, $800.6 million at an exchange rate of N153.5 to $1, which prevailed at the time.
“This represented a savings of some N9 billion on a total of N131.4 billion that was appropriated, and a far cry from N566.2 billion speculated.”
The commission also clarified why the Federal Executive Council approved N2.1 billion budget for INEC to produce 33.5 million Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The document added: “The approved fund is for the second batch of PVCs being produced for the 73.5 million eligible voters registered by the Commission during the exercise conducted in January-February 2011.
“The government had last year (2012) approved N2.6 billion for production of the first batch of 40 million cards, while the latest approval is for the second phase of the same project. The PVCs will replace the cold-laminated temporary voter cards that were issued during the voter registration in 2011.
“Experience has shown that these temporary cards are not only fragile, but also susceptible to abuse by unscrupulous persons, who were in the past reported to have illicitly massed up the cards and put them in the hands of cronies to use in manipulating elections.
“Procedures put in place by INEC since the 2011 general elections have considerably lessened the susceptibility of these cards to such abuse. But the PVCs the Commission will in due course issue to registered voters are far much more fraud-proof. They are chip-based, with the chip on each card containing all the biometric data of a legitimate holder.
“During elections, the PVC will be swiped with a card reader at the polling unit to ensure 100 per cent authentication and verification of the voter before he/she is allowed to vote. In effect, only a legitimate holder can present the card at a polling unit to cast his/her vote; while an illegitimate holder can be detected and prevented from using the card.”
The document explained that the production of the PVCs was cost effective. It said: “As for its economics, the PVC is being produced at a modest cost of about N65 per card, and it will have an average life span of ten years.
“It is precisely to prevent a fresh outlay of capital after the expiration of this life span that the INEC chairman, at the FEC meeting where approval was given for the second batch, pointed the way to making the National Identity Card the document for voter identification in future elections in Nigeria.
“The expectation is that by the time the PVC’s life span expires, the national ID system should have come fully on stream and there should be no need for the country to incur fresh costs on separate identity document for voters.”
“Every expenditure by the present INEC under the leadership of Prof. Attahiru Jega has been necessitated and strictly undertaken as an investment – with an eye on saving the country further costs in the future. That was the reality of the 2011 voter registration exercise.”
The commission also denied alleged plans to conduct a fresh voters registration.
INEC said: “For avoidance of doubt, sir, there is no plan for any fresh registration exercise and there is certainly no cause for one. The 2011 voter registration exercise was successful and provides a solid basis for this country to finally discard the expensive cycle of massive registration exercises usually undertaken before General Elections in the past.
“The data of 73.5 million eligible voters gathered in the 2011 exercise is widely adjudged the most credible in this country’s history, and the Commission has ever since been cleaning up and consolidating the data to eliminate cases of duplication or multiple registration.
“All that INEC plans now is the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) mandated by Section 10 of Electoral Act 2010, as Amended.
“This procedure, which is a global best practice, allows for regular update of the National Register of Voters with the data of persons who freshly turned 18 years; while the records of those who are certified as deceased get cleaned out.
“Incidentally, the electoral laws of this country have always provided for the exercise, but the provision was always observed in the breach until the present Commission came on board and resolved to implement it as prescribed.
“The CVR will be rolled out by INEC nationally in the course of this year and will remain a permanent feature of the country’s political process.” INEC gave a breakdown of how it compiled the voters register in 2011.
“INEC had previously explained the logic of the huge cost of the 2011 exercise, and it bears restating here for accuracy of the records of history. This Commission is fiscally responsible, and it is for that reason it recently negotiated the sell-off of 78, 000 units of the laptop component of DDC machines it will not need for the CVR to some state governments.”
The commission promised that the 2015 poll would be better than 2011.It added: “INEC is assiduously working and will spare no effort to upscale the integrity of Nigeria’s electoral system beyond the modest achievements recorded in 2011. “Already, the Commission is pursuing plans and programmes that will make the 2015 elections the best in Nigeria’s political history. We can confidently say that the future of Nigeria’s electoral system can’t be brighter.”