The Indications emerged, yesterday, that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has bowed to pressure and considered the request for an extension of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aisha Dukku, disclosed this, yesterday, while briefing journalists on the outcome of a meeting between the committee and the electoral body.
Dukku said following the resolution of the House requesting an extension of the CVR by 60 days, the committee met with INEC on Tuesday to brainstorm on challenges encountered by Nigerians seeking to register and vote in next year’s polls.
She said after the meeting, the electoral body promised to look at the resolution and come up with a position.
The lawmaker, however, said the extension, according to INEC, might not last up to 60 days.
The minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, expressed concerns over the flouting of House resolutions by government agencies. He said there were indications that INEC was not willing to comply with the resolution of the House.
“We passed a resolution on INEC by way of consideration to extend the tenure of continuous voter’s registration, which they had wanted to stop. And I’m also aware that the court of competent jurisdiction also gave a judgment to the effect of urging INEC not to stop or end the continuous registration. But from feelers that I am getting, it’s like INEC is even threatening to appeal against that judgment, jettisoning the resolution that was passed on this floor.
“So, Mr. Speaker, I will like the chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters to educate us on the efforts that they have made. The second leg of the motion is for them to follow up and ensure compliance, that is the point of my order,” Elumelu said.
Contacted last night, INEC denied extending the June 30 deadline.
A message by Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said: “The commission has not announced an extension of the CVR deadline.”
•SERAP hails, NGOs seek more time
Notwithstanding, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has hailed the extension but noted “it still falls short of statutory requirements and international standards. We’ll see INEC in court next week to make our case for INEC to fully comply with the Electoral Act.”
In the same vein, the leadership of the Unified Nigerian Youth Forum (UNYF) said the 60-day extension would not be enough to capture more prospective voters.
It said about seven million young Nigerians who would be clocking 18 years just a few days after the expiration of the new deadline on August 29 would be disenfranchised from voting.
The group in a statement by its President, Abdulsalam Kazeem, appealed to the commission to expand the voter registration and validation infrastructure to capture young Nigerians who are patriotic and willing to exercise their civic responsibility come 2023.
“Going by INEC’s new proposal the registration will stop by August ending which means that many eligible Nigerians will be deliberately disenfranchised and our members included. It looks outdated for INEC to propose closing her portal five months before the general elections in this technologically driven century…
“We as a Forum sincerely hope that INEC would reconsider extending the voters registration exercise to cover significant numbers of those who are willing but unable to get their PVC to date due to queues, corrupt process, inadequate registration centers, favoritism and late report to duty post by most INEC officials saddled with the tasks.”
The Leadership and Entrepreneurship Advocacy (LEAD) Network Africa canvassed for the December deadline. It reminded INEC of its founding mandate, which states: “On no account should anyone who presents himself to be registered to be denied.” It said until people are scarce in every registration center, the process should not end.
“But in this case, there are thousands of Nigerians hoping to get their PVC on a daily basis. So I will suggest that the process should continue until two months before the elections so that millions of Nigerians will not be disenfranchised,” he said.
•INEC registers 8m additional potential voters
Meanwhile, INEC said it registered 8,057,167 potential voters between June 28, 2021, and June 20, 2022.
Mrs. Tonia Nwobi, spokesperson for Cross River said the figure covered physical and online registrants.
She said 4,862,849 were physical registrants, while 3,194,318 persons had registered online before the mode was suspended on May 31.
She also said 222,072 of the registrants were recorded in Cross River. She gave the five states with the highest figures of registrants as Delta, 378,129; Osun, 372,609; Bayelsa, 370,264; Rivers, 358,725 and Lagos with 338,955.
She said states with the least number of registrants are Imo with 79,285; FCT, 88,823; Yobe, 90,398; Enugu, 108,397, and Ekiti, 124,844 registrants.
Report from Chinelo Obogo, Sola Ojo, Kaduna, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja