The Prof. Pat Utomi-led Big Tent Coalition of political parties and civil society groups for Obi-Datti has called for a further extension of the Feb. 5 deadline for collection of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The coalition, on Thursday, in Lagos, also appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to engage private sector in the distribution of the PVCs) to registered voters.
The group is rooting for the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi and his running mate, Dr Yusuf Datti.
Utomi, the leader, National Consultative Forum (NCFront), made the requests when he led the Big Tent team on a protest to the Oshodi/Isolo Local Government Secretariat, where many Nigerians were gathered to collect their PVCs.
The professor of political economy alleged that Nigerians were currently going through hardship and pains to beat the new Feb. 5 deadline for the collection of PVCs ahead of the polls.
Speaking at INEC office at the council Secretariat, he argued that a situation where Nigerians would leave their houses as early as 8am, and by 1pm, only few persons had collected their PVCs, was not good.
“I am here at the distribution centres where PVCs are supposed to be collected by Nigerian citizens, who have taken the pains to register so they can exercise their citizens’ duty of casting the ballot,” he said.
According to him, the extended deadline for the PVCs collection may need further review because many people were still not able to collect theirs.
“I have had a team from the Big Tent here since 8am and this is past 1pm and only five people from the thousands massed outside there have been able to collect their PVCs since 8am,” he said.
He called for another extension, to be accompanied with different strategies, for positive results.
“It needs to be extended further, but more importantly, we need better approaches,” he said, advocating the involvement of the private sector in the distribution.
He said: “I want to suggest that INEC can hand it over to the private sector.
“I am sure that if you charge the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry and such other bodies, they will take these cards, determine their polling station locations and send out people to distribute the cards in those stations; we will get efficient outcomes in two days.”
He said that students should also be given at least one week break to be able to go and vote.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that INEC had fixed Dec. 12, 2022, to Jan. 22, 2023, for the collection of PVCs before it was extended till Jan. 29, and thereafter till Feb. 5 in the latest extension.
INEC has fixed Feb 25 for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, and March 11 for the Governorship and states Houses of Assembly Elections.