President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday directed the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to ensure that all registered Nigerians get their Permanent Voter Cards before the general elections in February.
Jonathan gave the directive shortly after swearing in INEC national commissioner representing Oyo State, Prof. Akinola Salau, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President said 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 voters cards; we cannot conduct an election where some people will not have the rights to vote.
“People must decide who rules them at all levels; not just about presidential elections, even at the lowest level of elections conducted by INEC – the state assembly elections, House of Representatives, Senate and Presidency, all Nigerians must vote.
“INEC must do everything possible to make sure that all Nigerians have their voter cards because we cannot afford a situation where some Nigerians will not vote that day.”
Jonathan noted that some Nigerians are getting worried whether the commission can conduct credible elections.
He added that some state governors are complaining that they have yet to get their PVCs.
He argued that if state governors could be complaining, it means that many Nigerians are yet to get their cards.
The President however said he was pleased with the complaints because the clamour for PVCs was an indication that Nigerians have developed confidence in the nation’s electoral process.
He observed that there was no such clamour before the 2011 general elections.
Jonathan said his administration should be commended for sanitising the electoral process.
He said, “To me, I am quite pleased, not pleased in the negative sense, about the awareness that has come on board that 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.
“Before 2011, how many Nigerians complained about not having voters card? Because elections were not conducted with voters cards, nobody cared.
“We are all adults in Nigeria and we knew what was happening. But some people came on board and sanitised electoral process but others want to take the glory. We have to commend ourselves.
“That today, ordinary Nigerians, biggest business men, religious leaders are complaining that they want their voter cards, nobody talked about that before 2011.
“So people should commend us and I am pleased that people are talking about voter cards.”
Jonathan noted that Salau should have resumed office long ago but government had to step it down because of some undisclosed issues.