My good people of Osun,
Good day to you.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in its duty of conducting a free, fair, transparent and credible election, has reeled out the time-table and is kick-starting the process with the verification of voters’ register and distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVC). This will take place between Friday March 7 and Sunday March 9.
PVC is a smart card based Voters Identification Card that looks like an ATM card. It is an electronic card that contains vital information about the holder: his or her photograph, biodata and thumbprint. It will be given to only those that registered to vote at the 2011 elections and possess a Temporary Voters Card (TVC). Even if you have lost your Temporary Voters Card, you will still be able to collect the new permanent card.
This card is very important. Please get your own; without it you will not be able to vote in the August 9 governorship election and next year’s general elections.
This card is not transferable, meaning you cannot impersonate someone else; it cannot be counterfeited; you cannot have more than one copy; and you cannot manipulate it in any form. This is a warning to anyone designing any plan to manipulate the card, impersonate someone else or use it illegally in any form, that he or she will be caught and risks going to jail.
From 8.00am on Friday, you will peacefully proceed to your polling unit in your ward and present yourselves to INEC officials for verification after which you will collect your Permanent Voters Card.
If your name is not on the register, remain calm, do not panic. There is no cause for alarm. Adequate provisions have been made to address your case and to ensure you collect your own card.
Be vigilant but conduct yourselves peacefully and in an orderly manner, like an Omoluabi, which you are, in the three days that the exercise will last. Do not give room for the use of force and coercion by law enforcement agents.
My good people, we have provided jobs, built schools, constructed good roads and other infrastructure towards your material empowerment and we will continue to do more. But the right to vote and choose your leader is the highest level of empowerment any government can ever provide for its people. As John Locke put it, no man has the right to govern another without his consent. Political empowerment therefore is a God-given right that must not be taken lightly or toyed with.
Historically, governance has taken different forms, from monarchical absolutism to fascism, military autocracy and despotism, but now this trust is expressed in a one-man-one-vote multi-party democracy.
Registering to vote is a sacred responsibility for the people. You must therefore take it seriously by ensuring total participation in all the processes. This is why this exercise is very important.
However, because elections empower the people, there will be resistance from those who want to keep the people in slavery and bondage. They are agents of destabilisation and confusion who would rather wish that elections do not take place or at best are manipulated and the people prevented from exercising their God-given right to choose their own leader. They will want to short-circuit the process and pre-determine the end result from the beginning by keeping as many people as possible away from the voters’ register. We want to warn such people that the law enforcement agencies will be alive to their responsibility and take all necessary actions to make the exercise hitch-free and a resounding success.
You must therefore be resolute in your stand for democracy, to register for election, to vote and to make your vote count. Do not be intimidated. Do not be scared; and do not be despondent.
I am also calling on all the political parties to ensure that they are adequately represented at the venues to guide their members through the process and how to conduct themselves appropriately.
To enable you have ample time for the exercise, I have declared Friday March 7 a work-free day. I enjoin you all to verify your name on the register, collect your card and put yourselves in a good position to vote on August 9 and afterwards.
I am also identifying with our Christian faithfuls who have commenced the Lenten Season, a period of fasting for 40 days. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance from sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. It is a period, more than ever, to get closer to God. Since it precedes Easter, it is a period for believers to come to greater awareness of the purpose of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ and the redemption he purchased. The essence of this is love – towards God and fellow man – and to make us better persons in our daily conduct.
I wish you a fruitful and successful Lent and may your prayers and worship be acceptable unto God.
Osun a dara!