By Princess-Ekwi Ajide – Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has asked political parties to maintain a membership register in hard and soft copy and to make such register available to the Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses and conventions as required by the provision of Sec. 77 of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Chairman of the Commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who made the request at the second quarterly consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja, said, though it is a mandatory requirement and all parties are required to comply only one political party has complied so far.
He noted that doing otherwise will seem like going into an election without the register of voters and there can be no credible primary or general election without a credible register of voters.
Professor Yakubu, said to enable more Nigerians register as voters, the Commission created additional centres to devolve the Continuous Voter Registration, CVR exercise beyond its State and Local Government offices nationwide thereby activating a total of 2,673 centres nationwide, trained more personnel, deployed additional machines and intensified voter education.
According to him, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of new registrants since the CVR exercise resumed for the fourth and final quarter, as 405,587 eligible Nigerians have completed the registration at the various centres which is about 31% increase on the average figure of 125,000 weekly registrations since the exercise commenced in June last year.
He however, expressed concerns about the safety of their equipment, personnel and Nigerians who come out to register at the various registration centres as well as the printed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) made available for collection by registered voters saying that based on the urgency of the situation in Anambra State, the CVR has been suspended in all the 42 additional centres and confined to their State and Local Government offices except Nnewi South and Ogbaru LGAs where the exercise has also been temporarily suspended
The INEC boss reiterated that despite the security challenges, the Commission is resolute in its determination to conduct the 2023 General Election as scheduled and every eligible Nigerian must be given the opportunity to vote, including citizens in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.
He expressed confidence in security agencies saying they have the capacity to deal with the security challenges ahead of the 2023 General Election especially as they have started preparations for the election early therefore, has ample time to deal with the current situation to enable the Commission and all stakeholders to deploy nationwide for the election for a peaceful electioneering and conduct of elections.