BY MAYOWA SAMUEL
Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission to consider extending the deadline for the collection of the Permanent Voter Cards.
Ortom stated that his appeal for the extension was to enable all those who registered to obtain their cards to vote at the polls.
The governor also advised the Commission not to postpone the elections on the grounds of insecurity, adding that the skepticism about the election which arose following a statement from INEC over fears of insecurity should be discountenanced.
The Governor stated this on Wednesday when he visited the new Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Benue state, Sam Egwu at the INEC headquarters in Makurdi.
Ortom said, “Our prayer is that whatever happens, let us go ahead and conduct the elections because Nigerians and Benue State people are eagerly waiting for it. Let us not create a situation where enemies of this country will take advantage, the elections must be conducted.
“In my own little way of suggesting and helping INEC and of course, the Federal Government, if there are specific areas where insecurity is intense and there are problems, they should work towards shifting the elections not postponing the elections and when the other places are completed, they can go back and complete it and announce results.
“I understand the leg of collecting Permanent Voters Card, PVCs at the ward level is terminating on Sunday and then the other ones at the Local Government. I want to appeal if it is possible, because this one is not about politics, it is not about partisanship, it is not about political parties, it is about everybody, but looking at what the result is for today, I want to appeal if that can be extended for one week.
“If it is possible, the Benue State Government will appreciate it so that everybody will have the right to collect his or her PVC. If it can be extended, that will be fine, but if not, we can still manage with the directive of INEC,” Ortom stated.
While congratulating the REC on his appointment and posting to the State, the Governor said “all that we seek and desire from you is to ensure the rules of your engagement, ensure fair play, ensure equity, ensure justice, ensure fairness for all. Don’t do anything to sympathize or to favour me or any other political party.
“On behalf of the Government and people of Benue State and our party, the PDP, I want to welcome you and to wish you the very best and to assure you that for us, we are not going to do anything that will create challenges for you but to cooperate, for we know that power belongs to God.”
The Governor used the opportunity to appeal to Benue people and all the political parties to eschew violence stressing that “violence will not make anyone win any election. Let us be peaceful, INEC which is the umpire body has given us the guidelines, let us keep to it.”
In his remarks, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Egwu, stated that although the collection of PVC at the ward level would end on Sunday, the process would continue at the Local Government level till a few days to the elections.
Egwu, however told Governor Ortom that his request for the extension would be forwarded to the Chairman of the Commission, pointing out that it was in the best interest of the Commission to give out all the PVCs.
The REC told the Governor that the Commission was working assiduously to ensure that people who were displaced and living in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps across the state with their PVCs were allowed to participate in the elections.