Calls for continuous voter registration
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Ahead of 2023 general elections and others slated in 2021 and 2022, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, The Nigerian Alliance, TNA, Wednesday, wrote to the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, over declining voter turnout.
The letter with subject ‘Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Continued Voter Registration Exercise’ was signed by Convener, TNA, Ifeanyi Okereafor, Co-Convener, TNA, Norris Campbell, and Head, Public Relations, Paschal Ojezele.
The letter raised some concerns over the 4th of November 2020 promise made by INEC after the 2019 general elections to resume the process of Continuous Voter Registration, CVR, in the first quarter of 2021, which ends March 31, 2021.
TNA is a group of young, politically active Nigerians interested in improving the electoral process and increasing the participation of young people in legislative elections.
To achieve this, TNA conducts social mobilization projects, media advocacy, electoral and legislative workshops, and also voter education events.
The statement reads in part, “In line with our vision to push for electoral reform and in particular, the passage of the current amended electoral Act, we are here today, to remind the electoral body of its duties which are provided for under Sections 9 and 10 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) to carry out Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) after the elections.
“Following the general elections in 2019, INEC had on the 4th of November 2020 promised to resume the process in the first quarter of 2021, which ends today. We are here, therefore, to find out why the Commission has not carried out this important exercise, and to equally inquire if there are legislative hindrances to the CVR.
“We are concerned about declining voter turnout in the last four elections circle; we are also aware of the difficulty of new and willing voters being unable to be registered; registered voters have been disenfranchised because of delays and difficulties experienced in transferring their polling unit; we are also aware of the challenges voters face in the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).
“But as we get closer to the 2023 general elections and the conduct other off-season elections in Anambra (November 2021), Ekiti and Osun (in 2022), our group, The Nigerian Alliance (TNA) intends to incentivise the CVR process towards addressing election apathy by urging young, intelligent and capable Nigerians to embrace the opportunity of a ballot-box revolution to take over state legislative houses and the House of Representatives.”
The statement also assured the commitment of TNA, “Our commitment to the electoral process is to ensure that Nigerians get value from elections and that women, young Nigerians and people living with disabilities have unfettered access to a representative, democratic governance.”
In conclusion, the statement expressed hope and optimism for INEC to do the needful without further delay.
“Finally, we hope that the electoral body would recognise the concerns of the Nigerian people about the need to urgently commence the CVR process, because with every passing minute, hour and day, teenagers are turning eighteen, and more people are eager to register.
“TNA is willing and ready to play a role in helping the electoral body to achieve its statutory goals by providing education and enlightenment to the younger population about how to engage in the registration exercise.
While receiving leaders of TNA at INEC’s Headquarters in Abuja, the National Commissioner, INEC, and Chairman, Outreach and Partnership Committee (OPC) Dr Adekunle Ogunmola, in an interactive meeting with The Nigeria Alliance assured that the Commission would soon embark on the Continuous Voter Registration.
As a prelude to the CVR, Ogunmola said the Commission is trying to expand people’s access to the Polling Units, PUs, by converting overflows from crowded voting centres to proper PUs and bring them closer to the people.