NEWS DIGEST – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advised traditional rulers in Anambra to encourage their subjects to collect their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).

Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in Anambra gave the advice during interactive session between INEC officials and members of Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council on Monday in Awka.

Orji said that the state had more than 344, 000 uncollected PVCs in its custody.

Orji said it was imperative for those who registered during the recently conducted Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) to collect their PVCs, saying that the best way to advance the nation’s democracy was for people to vote during elections.

The REC told the royal fathers that after the recently concluded CVR , the number of voters in Anambra now stood at 2.44 million from 1.7 million.

“The evaluation conducted by INEC headquarters after the registration, Anambra emerged first in the South-East zone with the registration of more than 800, 000 additional persons and took eleventh position nationwide.

“All we are saying is that after this effort of adding to the number of registered voters, it will amount to no significant achievement if these PVCs are not collected and their owners fail to vote during the 2019 elections,’’ he said.

Orji used the meeting to inform the royal fathers that Jan.16 to Jan.21 had been designated for the distribution of PVCs in each of the 326 electoral wards across Anambra.

“To make sure the owners of these 344, 000 PVCs pick their cards, we have hired 326 members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to assist 326 INEC officials in distributing the cards between Jan.16 and Jan.21,’’ he said.

He hinted that more than 20, 000 personnel would be used for the conduct of the forthcoming general elections in Anambra, adding that training of the ad hoc staff and security personnel would commence next week.

Orji disclosed that his office had received 347 new electric generating sets for the conduct of 2019 general election.

He said that each ward would get one generator while 21 others would serve as back up.

Orji said INEC was making adequate arrangement to curb vote buying, ensure early distribution of materials on elections days and achieve credible polls.

Igwe Sunday Okafor, the traditional Ruler of Okpuno Community in Awka South Local Government Area who stood in for the state Chairman of the Traditional Rulers’ Council commended Orji for making Anambra register additional 800, 000 voters.

Okafor promised that traditional rulers in the state would extend the message on the need for owners of the PVCs in INEC custody to pick their cards and as well participate during the elections.

Other traditional rulers who spoke urged INEC to step up arrangements towards tackling the menace of vote buying, as well as intimidation of voters by security operatives and political thugs on election days. (NAN)