THE Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, exercise being conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, is another opportunity for millions of Nigerians to enrol in the national voter’s register. The exercise is in compliance with Section 10(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which stipulates: “Without prejudice to Section 10(5) there shall be continuous registration of all persons qualified to be registered voters.”
The exercise is currently being conducted at the headquarters of all the 774 local government areas of the country and the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. It is envisaged that in the near future the exercise will percolate to the ward level to bring registration points nearer to those in far-flung places from their local government headquarters. According to INEC projections, the exercise is expected to continue until January 2019, just before the commencement of the General Elections of that year.
The exercise is to enable citizens who turned 18 since the last registration as well as those who did not register to enrol as voters. During this CVR, those who seek to transfer their registration areas from one state to another or within a state from one polling unit to another are also expected to do so.
Those who have not collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) are also expected to use the opportunity to collect such. We commend the present authorities at INEC for initiating the CVR which previous leaderships of the Commission failed to do.
However, this exercise has not been free of hiccups. Among the problems facing the process are challenges associated with the Direct Data Capture Machines, DDCMs, in the face of electricity shortages facing the country, apathy by voters, dissonance among the political class and funds.
There are also complaints of registration of under-aged children in some parts of the country, which is against the law. This must be looked into.
Besides the limited publicity given the exercise by the Commission, we have also noted the silence of the political parties on the exercise. One of the major responsibilities of political parties is that of mobilisation of their members and voters. Regrettably, the political parties have consistently failed to mobilise the electorate for registration exercises, leaving it to INEC which also had fallen short of expectations.
We charge the political parties to arise from their stupor and play their constitutional roles to ensure the success of the exercise. We also urge the election regulatory body to ensure that funding is well provided for to avoid past incidents of officials downing tools in the middle of the exercise.
Finally, we call on all Nigerians to enrol en masse and be in a position to vote in credible candidates. It is our collective civic responsibility.