2023 Election: Why We Can’t Extend Voter Registration – INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday declared that it is relatively impossible to extend the Continuous Voters Registration, CVR, which was suspended on Sunday.
INEC said extending the voter registration exercise will hamper its preparations for the 2023 general elections.
Recall that several concerned Nigerians had demanded that the CVR be extended to enable eligible would-be voters to register to participate in the coming elections.
The Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, who spoke on a Channels TV program said the commission needed to suspend the exercise to enable it to begin other processes to weed out all multiple registrants.
He said, “Now that we have officially suspended the CVR process, we have to consolidate; aggregate the data and thereafter run the biometric accreditation system to weed out all multiple registrants,” he said during the breakfast show on Friday.
“Thereafter, Section 19 [Electoral Act 2022] says we must do a one-week display of the voter register for the commission to accept claims; objections as it relates to either omitted names or names of individuals that ought not to be on that register as identified by people in the area.
“And how do you do that? You have to produce the preliminary register of voters for this purpose which means they have to be millions of these would-be voters. That will be posted in the entire wards and local governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and that is a huge work.”
He explained that after this, the electoral umpire will also produce and distribute the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the new registrants.
“So, there is a whole lot to be done,” he said, noting that Section 17 of the Electoral Act only mandates the Commission to stop voter registration less than and not exactly 90 days to the election.
Aside from this, he said, “it is not only this that INEC will be doing”.
Igini said Nigerians should rather be concerned about voter turnout in the next election despite the outcry that greeted the suspension of the registration.
“What gives spice to the practice of democracy is mass participation,” the INEC official said.
The INEC REC expressed satisfaction with the recent wave of enthusiasm by Nigerians in the electoral process, likening it to what happened in the country in the lead-up to the 1993 poll.
Before his comment, the electoral body had suspended voter registration on July 31, saying 12 million persons were newly registered.
A breakdown of the data showed that about 71 percent of the newly registered voters are youths. It also indicated that 8.7 million are between the ages of 18 and 34 while about 2.4 million are between ages 35 and 49.