Mr Adekunle Osibogun, a British trained International Trade and Investment Lawyer is the Founder of Adekunle Osibogun Foundation and Convener of Young Progressive Nigerian Initiatives (YPNI). In this interview, the rights activist spoke of his tour of the eight Local Government Areas in Ogun East Senatorial District to sensitise people on the need to register to vote and collect their Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ahead of the 2019 general elections and other issues. YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE reports
What was your experience during the recent PVC sensitisation campaign tour of Ogun East senatorial district sponsored by your foundation?
I will say the experience was quite humbling in the sense that there is a high level of enthusiasm amongst the populace towards the upcoming 2019 election, especially their interest to vote in the 2019 elections. We however observed that a lot of people are not aware of the important role the PVC (Permanent Voters Card) will play during the 2019 elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission has indicated that the PVC will play a key role in the upcoming election process, and this I believe is already being reflected in the allotments of the new PUs (Polling Units). I observe that the regions with the higher PVC collection rates were allotted a higher number of PUs. Consequently the South West region got the second least number of PUs, behind the North Central where citizens have been displaced by the herdsmen crisis, the North East which has been ravaged by the Boko Haram and the North West which has been notorious for underage registration and voting. Unfortunately, majority of the populace in Ogun East Senatorial District have gotten only their temporary voting cards, some of them haven’t even registered at all, while there is a large number that complained of either lost or damaged cards.
What do you think is responsible for the low collection in the Southern part and higher collection in the Northern part?
I haven’t surveyed the northern parts of Nigeria to know the reason for the high collection rate, but I can speak about the low collection rate in the southern parts of Nigeria. I will attribute the primary reason for the low PVC collection rates to bureaucracy. We have citizens who wake up as early as 5am to go and queue at INEC offices, spend the whole day there and may still be unable to pick up their PVCs. Now, that’s discouraging. For us to encourage ourselves to pick up our PVCs, which is a civic duty as we all know, it is important that we make the process a lot easier and more seamless. Without a shadow of doubt, there is a need for more registration machines, especially in Ogun East Senatorial district, where the registration machines are not sufficient. It is important that INEC intensifies efforts by increasing number of registration machines in the South; investing in awareness and sensitisation campaigns amongst the populace for those with lost or damaged cards or those seeking to transfer their registration; and by reducing the bureaucracies prevalent in the PVCs collection process, especially in the southwest geopolitical zone which we know has a larger population than the collection rate being recorded. It is noteworthy that the bureaucracy in transferring your registration within a state takes approximately ten months, regardless of if the transfer is within PUs in the same district, and the customer service can always be better.
Would you say Nigerians are prepared for 2019 general elections?
I will say Nigerians are better enlightened going into the 2019 General Elections than any of our previous elections, but their level of preparedness is low because majority of the populace are yet to collect their PVCs. Based on the vibes coming from INEC, the PVCs will be the instrument that will qualify citizens to participate in the voting process for the 2019 General Elections. So, no matter how enlightened we are, no matter how passionate we are, if we haven’t all gotten our PVCs then all our efforts will be in vain because we will all be unable to participate in the voting process, which defeats the purpose of democracy. So, while a lot is being invested into getting Nigerians to pick up their PVCs, each individual citizen must be determined to pick up his/her PVCs, towards making the 2019 General Elections a successful hitch free democratic election.
Generally, are you satisfied with the preparation of INEC for 2019?
I will give INEC a 50 per cent pass mark for their efforts thus far and their strategy, especially on PVC collection nationwide, but they can do more. INEC can do more especially in the South-West region because the level of PVCs collected in the South-West as a whole compared to the growing population of the South-West is very low. It’s therefore urgent that INEC now pays special attention to the registration and collection of PVCs in the South-West to ensure the elections in the South-West Region are a true reflection of the hopes and aspirations of the people.
What is the driving force behind the Adekunke Osibogun Foundation?
The Adekunle Osibogun Foundation is a private foundation that supports and inspires civic engagements and services in local communities, strengthen, promote, and where necessary protect the socio-economic rights of young Nigerians through intervention programmes in areas of education, entrepreneurship, leadership, citizenship awareness, agriculture, and youth empowerment. The origins of the foundation go back to 2009 when I met with other young patriots in Abuja to set up a platform to encourage and promote a sense of patriotism among Nigerians, which eventually birth the Young Progressive Nigerians Initiative (“YPNI”) for the benefit of our peers and local communities. After the establishment of YPNI, I was motivated to financially support my commitments to promoting patriotism amongst Nigerians and enhancing the quality of life of Nigerians through initiatives that promote national development, entrepreneurship and educational opportunities.
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