A public policy analysis and manifesto rating organization, Deep Dive Intelligence, claimed its findings have revealed that the Independent National Electoral Commission is contributing to the mass disenfranchisement and voters’ apathy in Nigeria.
The organization also said its study revealed that there is a high, systematic suppression of voters going on in the southern part of the country.
Deep Dive said the findings were based on the fact that nine states with the highest number of abandoned Permanent Voters Card (PVC) are in the South, with Lagos State being the highest number with abandoned PVCs, 2.2m.
It noted that inversely, states with a high rate of PVC collection are states with high illiteracy and poverty rate.
Deep Dive then wondered if it is valid to say, southerners are the most political unconscious people in the country or political elites are using INEC to strategically reduce the numbers of votes coming from the Southern part of the state.
But the organization proffers reasons which it said could be responsible for the high rate of abandonment of PVC by Southerners.
For one, it posited that INEC allocation of fewer human resources and equipment to Southwest states resulted in longer queues which discouraged people and make them abandon their PVCs or not register at all.
While noting that states with a high number of abandoned PVCs also states with low poverty rates, the organization also argued that residents of these states engaged in some form of formal/informal jobs making it difficult for them to get permission off work between the official 9 AM -3PM to be on queues for PVC daily.
Deep Dive, however, lamented that in spite of the development, the electoral body has not taken any active measures to correct the problem, thus unintentionally suppressing voters in the affected regions through its inactions.
It added that if INEC allowed the situation to continue, voters in the next general elections would be mainly illiterates and Nigerians with high poverty rates. This, it noted, would create room for politicians to easily buy votes and deceive the eligible voters who have PVC to vote for them.
In solving the problems, Deep Dive recommended that PVC collection and CVR registration timetable should be changed from the current 9 AM – 3 PM daily to 7 AM – 6 PM daily.
It also suggested that weekends (8 AM – 6 PM) should be added to PVC/CVR timetable in affected states.
In addition, the organization urged INEC to publish a 2-3 page statistics on PVC collection & CVR data for election monitoring groups, NGOs, international development organization to monitor the pulse of events ahead of the 2019 general elections weekly.