Braving stressful waits, red tape, and repeated visits, Nigerians are rushing to pick up their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for next month’s presidential election, where three main candidates are vying to replace President Muhammadu Buhari.
Nearly 10 million new voters have been registered for the February 25 ballot, of whom 84 percent are young people aged under 34 — a key block of ballots. The election in Africa’s most populous country is shaping up to be an exceptional event. For the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999, a third-party candidate is presenting a real challenge to the dominance of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
With Nigeria struggling with growing insecurity, high living costs, and increasing poverty, many young voters said they were keener now to have a say about their future leader. Crowds gathered at Lagos schools over the weekend where election officials called out names, checked off lists, and handed out a coveted ID, the biometric Permanent Voters Cards or PVC. Some would-be voters were successful but others were frustrated to be told to come back.
“They told me my PVC is not ready. They have to go back to Abuja,” said Chuks David, a software developer in Lagos’ Surulere area.
“We need to get things right, and that is why I am taking the time and the stress to get my PVC.” The Independent National Electoral Commission, known as INEC, last week extended the deadline for PVC collection by eight days. In some states 100,000 cards were collected in just five days, it said. Picking up her card in Lagos State’s Alimosho district, first-time voter Gbemisola Akindola said she hadn’t seen the need for change in 2019. But this year, she said she was determined to have her say.