Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Monday has explained the reason for delay in the printing of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) for new registrants.

Yakubu in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the five-day Induction Retreat for INEC’s National Commissioners in Lagos said the delay is caused by its robust cleaning up of the voter’s register.

According to him, the commission is encouraged by the response of citizens to the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, as it has recently devolved physical registration beyond the state and local government offices nationwide.

“Millions of Nigerians have registered so far and we have been giving weekly updates of the progress of the exercise for the last nine months.

“The commission is aware that new registrants, as well as those who applied for transfer or replacement of the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), will like to know when the cards will be available for collection.

“The reason why we have not made the PVCs available is because of the robust system of cleaning up the registration to ensure that only genuine registrants are added to the voters register using the Automatic Bimodal Identification System (ABIS) for fingerprint and facial clean up.”

The chairman said that INEC had completed the ABIS for the first and second quarter of the CVR, adding that the commission would meet next week and detailed dates and locations for the collection of PVCs would be announced.

On the importance of the retreat, he said that the burden to conduct free, fair, credible, acceptable, and inclusive elections was upon the commission, hence the need for each commissioner to be ethical and knowledgeable.

Yakubu disclosed that INEC now had full complement of 12 National commissioners, adding that the retreat would enable the new commissioners to learn a lot, especially with the coming force of the new Electoral Act 2022.

“The commission has introduced a number of new innovations that it needs to perfect ahead of the general election, hence the need to continuously engage with citizens and stakeholders.

“However, while these innovations and stakeholder engagements are critical to preparations for elections, we should bear in mind that equally critical to the conduct of successful elections is our credibility as election managers.

“Our impartiality dogged adherence to rules, commitment to the sanctity of the ballot and sound knowledge of the electoral process are also critical.

“This retreat is important, especially coming shortly after we released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 General Election in which party primaries are scheduled to commence next week and end on the first week of June, that is between April 4 and June,” he added.

Yakubu reassured Nigerians of INEC’s commitment to credible polls in 2023, saying that the commission had concluded work on the Strategic Plan 2022-2026 and Election Project Plan for the 2023 general elections.

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