Yiaga Africa, a non-governmental organisation promoting participatory democracy, human rights, and civic participation, has called for the abolition of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) as the sole means of voter identification during elections.
Hussaini Abdu, YIAGA Africa board chairman, made the call in Abuja on Friday during the official presentation of the organisation’s report on Nigeria’s 2023 general election.
Mr Adbu said the measure would address the myriad of challenges associated with collecting PVCs and voter accreditation, which disenfranchises many voters during elections.
He stressed the need to review the requirement for voter identification following the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System that stores biometric information of voters.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should, therefore, abolish the use of PVC and adopt the use of other legally acceptable means of identification for voter verification such as driver’s license, international passport, national identity card,” he said.
He also called on the National Assembly to amend the electoral legal framework to enable INEC to produce the voter register from the national identity database compiled by the National Identity Management Commission.
This, according to him, will reduce the cost of elections, facilitate regular updates to the register and foster harmonisation of the national database.
The chairman said the report further called for more policy reforms for INEC to strengthen the electoral process.
According to him, electoral reforms can deliver credible elections if stakeholders, especially INEC and political parties, comply with the rules and guidelines.
“An overhaul of the appointment process of INEC commissioners is needed to restore public confidence in the electoral commission.
“In addition, there is a pressing need to unbundle the commission and shift certain institutional responsibilities it bears currently to other institutions.
“For example, the responsibility of political party registration and regulation and electoral offences prosecution should be removed from the commission,” he said.
On strengthening INEC’s institutional independence, Mr Abdu said the report recommended that professional skills and qualifications should be considered when making appointments into INEC.
He also said the appointing authority should subject nominees to public scrutiny before transmitting nominations to the Senate for confirmation.
“We also want INEC to be unbundled and, as such, recommend that the National Assembly should, through legislation, establish a Political Party Registration and Regulatory Commission and an Electoral Offences Commission.
“This will reduce INEC’s enormous and onerous responsibilities, which in the long run will improve its efficiency, effectiveness, and credibility,” he said.
He equally advised INEC to address the ambiguities, complexities, and inadequacies of the electoral legal framework and enhance the integrity and accuracy of voter registration.