The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), says no fewer than 71,462 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) were yet to be collected in Ebonyi.

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Prof. Godswill Obioma disclosed this when he led management of the commission on a courtesy visit to the speaker and members of the Ebonyi House of Assembly on Friday in Abakaliki.

He explained that the visit was part of the commission’s engagement process with critical stakeholders ahead of the 2019 general elections.

He explained that out of the 77, 487 PVCs ready for collection, less than 10, 000 had been collected as at August.

He said that the apathy to the collection of the voter cards in the state was unacceptable, adding that the visit is to brief the lawmakers on the development as well as solicit support for effective public sensitization.

“We decided to visit the speaker and members of the house of assembly to solicit for their cooperation and collaboration with a view to reaching out to the public and sensitize them on the need to collect their PVCs before the 2019 general elections.

“It is unfortunate that out of over 77000 PVCs released by our national headquarters from the 2017 and 2018 registrations to Ebonyi, only about 6,025 PVCs have been collected.

“We are here to solicit your cooperation, collaboration, and support in mobilizing and sensitizing eligible voters in your various constituencies who registered and are yet to collect their cards to come forward and get them.

“With less than 200 days to the general elections, it is important that all eligible voters in the state who are yet to obtain their voter cards should go to INEC offices in various local government areas to collect them.

“Collection of PVCs will continue until one week to the general elections, while the CVR exercise will end on Friday, Aug. 17.

“We have extended the time for registration, while Saturdays and Sundays have been included in the registration days to enable more people to be captured in the exercise, ” Obioma said.

He said that over 13,5000 voters had registered within the first quarter and the first phase of the second quarter of the 2018 registration.

He urged the electorate to take advantage provided by the commission to participate in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise and other electoral processes.

Obioma pledged the commitment of the electoral body to remain unbiased and impartial in the conduct of the 2019 elections in Ebonyi.

He added that the commission would provide a level playing field for all the political parties.

The resident commissioner, who described the legislature as the bastion of democracy, called on the lawmakers to ensure that every eligible voter in their areas was properly mobilized to participate in the elections.

Responding, the Speaker, Mr. Francis Nwifuru, expressed the readiness of the lawmakers to support INEC to sensitize and mobilize eligible electorate to register and obtain their PVCs ahead of the 2019 general elections.

He appealed to the commission to ensure that a free, fair and credible election was organized in the state, adding that Nigerians were full of expectations that INEC would deliver on its promise of a credible election in 2019.

The speaker said that the legislature would go on recess on Tuesday, Aug. 14 to enable members to go back to their constituencies to sensitize their constituents on the PVC collection.

“The slow pace of PVCs collection in the state will be improved upon because we are going to sensitize our people and mobilize them to go and collect their PVCs.

“The legislature is the bastion of democracy and as true representatives of the people, we must ensure that they are mobilized to vote; they can only vote with their PVCs.

“We are embarking on recess from Tuesday and we are going to use the recess to meet with our constituents on the issue, ” Nwifuru said.