By Elijah Akoji
In this report, SOLACEBASE utilized cases in Madobi, Tudun-Wada, and Fagge LGAs in the three senatorial districts of Kano State to reveal why millions of PVCs are yet to be collected in the state.
Kano State’s population is currently at over 15 million, which makes it the second most populous state in Nigeria. As of 2019, records of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) show that Kano State had over 5 million registered voters which placed Kano in the second position behind Lagos State.
But with the Continuous Voter Registration exercise, the latest figure is now 6,025,850. However, many of those who registered may not vote because they have failed to collect their PVCs.
The immediate past Kano State INEC resident electoral commissioner, Prof. Riskuwa Arabu Shehu, at a press conference in August, decried how millions of PVCs laid at the commission’s office without owners collecting them.
Shehu described the act as negative to the electoral process, lamenting how millions of naira are spent to produce the cards.
SOLACEBASE investigation in Madobi, Tudun-Wada, and Fagge LGAs across the three senatorial districts of Kano reveals reasons for the poor collection of PVCs.
In Ruga community of Madobi LGA, with over 20,000 people and more than 10,000 potential voters, but not many would vote because the community is cut off from the electoral processes.
Ruga is a hinterland community predominantly dominated by farmers, and according to the 2019 INEC Polling Unit Directory (PUD) of Kano State, there is no trace of either a polling unit or a voting point in Ruga community.
Eligible voters have had to travel about 10 kilometers on a bad road to Makeda and Burji to register for their PVC, and they are requested to travel the same kilometers to Makeda and Burji LGA headquarters for collection of their PVC.
Residents decried the long-distance journey as one of the major disincentives to collect their PVCs.
While the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) laments the poor collection of PVC since 2019, neglect of communities such as Ruga might be the contributing factor to the high numbers of uncollected PVCs in Kano state.
It took the benevolence of a politician in Ruga to transport over 70 youths and the elderly to register for PVC at Kubarchi Polling Unit in Makoda, which is the nearest.
Danfulanni Bala, the village head of Ruga, explained how the situation has discouraged them from going to collect their PVC.
He said, “Before 2019 some of us mobilized ourselves and went to do the permanent voters card. We were never informed how to go about it or where to go and do it or when to come and collect it, considering the distance we have to travel, a lot of us refused to go back for the PVC till date.
“This year a particular political party member located us, brought some buses, and took a lot of people to the nearby polling unit which is over 15 kilometres. The bus brought them back. I doubt if they have even started giving the new PVCs. If they have, then you see we are not even aware.
“What you don’t know is the fact that most residents are not even aware of how to go about collecting their PVC. While their biggest problem is how to even go there, most of them have resolved not to use their money in any way to transport for that reason.”
Insecurity is our major concern not PVC- Tundun-Wada Residents
Tudun-Wada, the LGA of the All Progressive Congress (APC) majority leader in the House of Representatives, Hon. Allhassan Ado Doguwa, is just about 5-kilometer drive to the dreaded Falgore forest- one of the major hideouts for bandits and kidnappers terrorizing residents of Kano State.
In Yar Fulani community, residents have refused to collect their PVC due to fear of attack. There have been reports of attack by bandits on the community. At least 5 suspected criminals were recently arrested along Yar Fulani-Falgore road that leads to the LGA headquarters where residents are to collect their PVC after registration.
Bala Dahiru, Commander of the Vigilante Group for Tudun-Wada, revealed that the group intercepted over 25 suspected criminals terrorizing Tudun-Wada area and handed them to the police
“Their acts have crippled activities here, and as the election draws closer, we want to ensure everywhere is safe for voters to come and vote,” he stated.
While this has affected their businesses, residents of Yar Fulani and Gazobi were aggrieved by the government’s silence, and had resolved to boycott the election process since the government has failed to protect them.
For Ahmed Danlami, a resident of Yar Fulani community, safety of his life is his priority and not PVC.
“I actually registered for my PVC during the 2019 election period, but I have refused to collect it because that is not my priority now. We need to be safe first. Almost every week you will hear of someone being kidnapped either here or the neighbouring community.
“My community is close to Falgore forest. We are being terrorized by kidnappers, and never for once have we been helped by the government. We tried by registering to get it during the PVC registration process, not because of the election but as a means of identification. For now, I can’t risk myself going to the LGA headquarters or INEC office. What if I am kidnapped on my way?” Danlami lamented.
Yunusa Abubakar, another resident, is yet to recover from the shock of the murder of his father by criminal elements on his way back from the farm just few months ago.
“All people think about now is election and campaign. We are dying on a daily basis. My father was killed on his way back from the farm, and his two cows were taken away from him. So, if there is anything I should be worried about now is my safety not the collection of PVC or any election activities,” Abubakar said.
In Gazobi, residents lament alleged lack of regard for their welfare. They said they registered in their community but were asked to travel to the LGA headquarters or INEC office to collect the PVC.
“How will we register here in Gozabi Primary School and we are now being told to travel to the LGA headquarters to collect the same PVC? We are faced with security challenge. Everyone is being careful and staying safe. We won’t take that risk. Whenever the government is ready, they should bring our PVC for us.” Jummai Habibu said.
Salisu Dankoli describes the poor collection of PVC in the state as a problem caused by the communication barrier between INEC and the people.
“Rural communities are dominated by typical rural people who most times find it difficult to access information. So, if they are not properly informed, then they will miss out. Most people here in Gozabi were forced to register for their PVC. The government should be kind enough to inform them well on the process to take to get the PVC, not when they are randomly told they will have to go to the LGA to collect their PVC.,” Dankoli, the headmaster of Gozabi Primary School, said.
The right to information during and after the election is a major right of every eligible voter across Nigeria regardless of their location.
Zaharadeen Isa, the INEC coordinator for Tudun-Wada, lamented the poor turnout in the collection of PVC but denied the reasons attributed to the development, though admitted that voter education had been poor.
“Some of these rural residents have their personal grief towards the system, particularly some of these communities where they have a particular contestant. Meanwhile, for the issue of insecurity raised, we are not aware that’s the major reason.
“Although our voters’ education, awareness, and sensitization since 2019 have been very poor, we have been working with the assumption that most people use the internet and listen to radio, so these have been the two major platforms we have been using. We have never thought going across communities will be helpful, but I will confess that will be a very difficult task to accomplish,” Isa said.
Rural Residents Disinterested
Danjuma Audu, director of voter education and publicity, INEC Kano office, claimed that rural dwellers in the state usually display lack of interest in election process.
“We as a commission have done our best. We have utilized all means, including using church and mosque leaders to reach out to people considering the PVC collection since 2019.
“There will always be a justification for people when they do what is wrong. We all understand that insecurity is a general issue in Nigeria and INEC is fully aware of some of the communities porous to security threats.
“If residents lament about awareness and voter education, then I am afraid to say most of them are not serious. We put adverts on radio, television, and even on the internet. We might not have gone across communities. Going across communities to sensitize them, that will be a whole lot of work. It’s nearly impossible,” Audu declared.
Riyawudeen Adamu, a political analyst and lecturer at the department of political science, Bayero University Kano, blames the government for not prioritizing rural residents.
“In politics, I have always said this: there is a special way to treat the vulnerable, and I consider rural residents vulnerable in this case. How they comprehend and understand information varies. They must be considered because they are even the voters. Most people in urban cities just sit at home on election day and don’t go out to vote, but these rural residents are consistent.
“If they complain about any abnormality or challenges, the government should take them seriously. It is also classified as political balance. You don’t think the voting poor is in urban cities. No it is very wrong.”
This publication is supported by the Civic Media Lab