The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the National Population Commission (NPC) to periodically avail INEC the data of deceased Nigerians to further enhance the credibility of the nation’s register of voters.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the request when he received the Chairman NPC, Alhaji Isa Kwarra, who paid him a courtesy visit at INEC headquarters in Abuja on Friday.
He said that the commission needed the data to remove names of dead persons from the voter register
Yakubu said that INEC had the largest biometric register of Nigerians, with photographs and fingerprint information for voter authentication.
He said that in order to make the voters’ register more robust, INEC had been periodically cleaning it up by removing ineligible persons or multiple registrants from it using a combination of technology.
“At present, technology cannot help us to identify and remove dead persons from the voters’ register.
“Therefore, I wish to once more appeal to the Chairman of the NPC, in your capacity as the registrar of births and deaths in Nigeria, to periodically avail us of the data of deceased Nigerians.
“This is important so that we can use the official information from your Commission to further clean up the voters’ register.
“Perhaps you may wish to start by availing us with the list of prominent Nigerians who have passed on, civil and public servants compiled from the official records of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other Nigerians from hospital and funeral records across the country,” Yakubu said.
He said that doing this may be a herculean task, but INEC was confident that NPC had the capacity to do so.
Yakubu said that over the years, the two commissions have been collaborating in carrying out their statutory duties and would continue to explore more areas of cooperation to serve Nigerians better.
He said that INEC has the statutory responsibility in organising elections, reviewing the division of the States of the Federation into Senatorial Districts, Federal and State constituencies as well as Wards in the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory.
Yakubu stated that over the years, the two commissions had embarked on one of the most imaginative and extensive inter-agency collaborations in Nigeria, in the area of delimitation of boundaries of electoral constituencies.
He said also that over the years, officials of the two commissions undertook a joint project to demarcate the boundaries of INEC’s Registration Areas (RAs)/Wards with NPC’s Enumeration Areas (EAs), the initiative known as the RA/EAD Project.
The INEC boss said that the idea was to enable commission to easily delimit and periodically review electoral constituencies based on NPC’s figures whenever there was a new population census, saying this cannot be achieved without accurate population data.
“This is partly why no constituencies have been delimited in Nigeria since the last exercise was carried out 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON).
“Working together with the Population Commission, we are determined to make a difference this time around, just as we solved the problem of voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria.
“We have already prepared and produced a Discussion Paper on electoral constituencies in Nigeria looking at the issues more broadly, including the imperative of a new population census.
“We will share copies of the Paper with the NPC at this meeting.
“So far, within the framework of the RA/EAD project, we have jointly covered 261 LGAs nationwide.
“I am aware that NPC has covered more LGAs. Going forward, we are finalising a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which will be signed very soon.
“In the MoU, we have more clearly defined the scope and duration of our collaboration as well as the responsibilities of the two Commissions,” he said.
Yakubu assured Nigerians that INEC and the NPC would continue to strengthen their existing collaboration to work for Nigeria and Nigerians.
Earlier, Kwarra said the NPC management was at INEC to further enhance the existing collaboration between the two commissions.
He said while NPC had not conducted population census over the last 16 years, the commission was preparing towards conducting it in 2022, subject to the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We have been working towards realising this objectives by delimitating the entire land mass of the country; we started in 2014 we are hopeful that by the end of October, we will complete the demarcation in all the 774 local governments in the 36 states and the FCT,” he said.
Kwarra added that the commission has also established a national frame for census as well continuously updating the death and birth registration.
He said that while NPC has had successful collaborations with INEC, it would continue in that regard to deepen the country’s democracy and development.
In company of the NPC chairman were commissioners, directors and other management team of the commission.