BY BEN AGANDE
ABUJA—Twenty-four hours to the end of the voters’ registration, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Thursday said it had registered about 54.9 million people as at Monday this week, two days after the exercise was originally scheduled to end before it was extended by one week.
The voters’ registration kicked off on the January 15, 2011, amidst widespread technical hitches that dogged the Direct Data Capturing, DDC, machine as the finger print component of the machine failed to capture the finger prints of most voters.
Following the nationwide outcry that greeted the exercise in the first few days, the National Assembly amended the Electoral Act 2010 to allow INEC more time to register as many voters who are willing to register as possible, prompting the commission to extend the exercise by one week which will end tomorrow.
A statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the chairman of INEC, Mr Kayode Idowu, Thursday, noted that by the commission’s projection, “62million people will be registered by the close of the registration on Saturday, February 5, 2010.” This is, however, 8 million short of the target of 70 million that the commission had set as the figure of Nigerians that are eligible to vote.
The statement reads: “About 54.9 million people had been registered nationwide as at Monday, January 31, 2010 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the ongoing voter registration exercise.
“With barely two days to the end of the seven-day extension of the exercise, the daily average nationwide has lowered to 3.2million, as against about 4.3million per day a week earlier. It is expected that the daily average will decline even furthermore as people get registered.
“Going by the present level and pace of registration, it is projected that no fewer than 62million people will be registered by the close of the registration on Saturday, February 5, 2010” he said.
Meanwhile, names of candidates for the April elections would be formally released by the Independent National Electoral commission on Sunday.
A source at the commission told Vanguard yesterday that ‘although the commission had initially targeted Saturday for the release of the official list, it seems highly unlikely that we would meet the target we had set for ourselves’.
The commission will also begin the process of uploading all the registered voters to a central data base in the commission’s headquarters on Sunday, a day after the voters registration exercise officially closed.