Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has said that the state government will declare work-free hours for workers across the state to collect their Permanent Voter Cards in the last week of the registration exercise.
The governor disclosed this when the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mutiu Agboke, led an advocacy team of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s top officials to his office, in Ibadan, on Tuesday.
Earlier, the REC had informed the governor that 756,000 PVCs were still unclaimed as at the time of their visit.
While challenging INEC to step up the drive towards ensuring more residents of the state collected their PVCs, the governor said it was unacceptable that such a high number of the cards still remained uncollected.
Ajimobi, therefore, charged INEC to come up with innovative ways of ensuring that a significant portion of the unclaimed PVCs were collected by their owners before the next general elections.
He said that this would ensure increased participation of citizens in the political process in the state.
Ajimobi said, “We will do everything humanly possible to encourage our people to collect their PVCs before the general election, including declaring work-free hours for civil servants in the last week of the voter registration exercise.
“When you say our people are not collecting their PVCs and they are also complaining of not meeting INEC staff at the designated centres or that the machines are not working properly, then you need to look into this.
“We have to look into ways of addressing these issues. Please educate your people to do their work as expected, even if it requires recruiting ad hoc officials. And, if you require our support in whatever form, let us know.
“We have told our local government chairmen to mobilize and make the exercise easy for the people. But this must necessarily be done in conjunction with INEC officials.”
Ajimobi also urged the REC to ensure that the 2019 election was free and fair by putting up a system that would engender trust among the stakeholders.
While thanking the governor for his decision to grant civil servants work-free hours to enable them to collect their PVCs, he said that the commission was also uncomfortable with the unclaimed 756,000 cards.
Agboke said, “We are reaching out to major stakeholders in the state, such as traditional rulers and the House of Assembly, among others, in our bid to ensure a successful general election next year. We are not pleased that we still have 756,000 PVCs yet to be claimed by their owners.
“INEC commenced the distribution of PVCs on April 27, 2017. We had three phases last year and this year we are already on the third phase. The exercise will be suspended on August 17 until after the 2019 general elections.”