By Providence Ayanfeoluwa
LAGOS— The Coalition of Igbo groups in Lagos has raised alarm over Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC’s change of deadline for voters pre-registration from June 30 to May 30, 2022.
The group also urged INEC to reconsider its plan to end the voter registration on the dates as previously stated, May 30 and June 30, 2022, recommending that the exercise be continued till September 30, 2022 which would be five months before the election.
In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting in Lagos, the group said INEC had three weeks ago changed the deadline for the pre-registration aspect, bringing it back from June 30 to May 30 for whatever reason.
Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos, Mr. Everest Ozonweke, who read the communiqué at a media briefing, said the changes made on the date didn’t serve anyone any benefit, adding that elections were critical to good governance.
Ozonweke said those who registered in 2010 were yet to get their voter’s cards, even as he lamented that most of its members and millions of Nigerians were having serious challenges with collecting their cards
He said: “A majority of the electorate voting in an election is critical to get a reasonable verdict of the actual will of the populace for any democratic system.
‘’In view of this, registering eligible members of the population to be able to vote is a critical part of promoting a healthy and fair democratic system.”
‘’The 2023 elections are due in 11 months. That is almost a year from today. We therefore cannot understand why INEC will end pre registration on May 30 and update registration and transfer by June 30, almost a year before the election.’’
Also speaking, Secretary Alalgbo Development Foundation, Emmanuel Mok, said INEC didn’tneed more than one month to print and distribute cards.
He said: “Nigeria has had election where cards where distributed almost a month to election, voters registration is simply for peoples details to be captured in soft copy online. INEC only needs to send to card printing machine and the machine would roll it out.
“The cards can be printed till two months to election, INEC does not need more than one month to print and distribute cards. They have structure, distributed all over local governments. From the local government, there are wards, from the wards, there are councilors from each wards across the nation.’’
Speaking on behalf of women, President, Igbo Women Assembly, Nneke Chimezie, said INEC and the government must synergize to encourage participation among women, especially traders and young people.
Chimezie said: “We want to get women to register and be part of the election process. Women are the nation managers but due to conditions in this country women are lagging in nation building.
“If you look at INEC criteria for registration, you would agree with me that so many women haven’t registered because 50 percent of them are traders. They are street traders who do not have good phones that can aid registration. Most women and young people are not registered because some of them do not have the app on their phones.’’