By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Saturday,vowed to conduct the best elections in the country in 2023, assuring that votes will count contrary to the doubts being expressed in some quarters.
This came as the nation’s electoral umpire disclosed that the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration,CVR will continue beyond its June 30 deadline, explaining that its decision to extend the registration was to enable persons willing to register do so. INEC chairman,Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this, during the Youth Vote Count Concert held at the Old Parade Ground,Abuja.
The concert,sponsored by the European Union,EU,was intended to create awareness among youths on the need for them to embrace the voter registration and motivating them to register and obtain permanent voters card ahead of 2023 general election.
Prof. Yakubu, speaking at the event, disclosed that over 14,000 persons have registered to get their permanent voters card in the past five days since the Youth Vote Count began in the nation’s federal capital city.
“For those of you who registered on the INEC result viewing portal, you were seeing the results from polling units on election day in Ekiti state . Ekiti was good, Osun is going to be better, 2023 will be the best, your votes will count”,Prof. Yakubu said.
He said,”On behalf of INEC, let me assure you that registration will not end on the 30th of June for as long as we have you people trying to register to obtain your PVCs, we will continue to register you, and we will continue to make sure that you get your PVCs.”
He added:”In the last five days , from Monday to Friday, we registered over 14,000 Nigerians in this place (Old Parade Ground) alone and we are still registering.
“We have 50 voter registration machines, two weeks ago, we deployed more machines to states, more machines left yesterday and more machines will leave today, all over the country.”
Açcording to him,”By Monday, there will be more machines to register more Nigerians. We will not stop the registration untill we are satisfied that those who wish to register are given the opportunity to do so.”
“I want to assure you that the PVCs will be ready for collection latest October this year, long before the election. So all of you will have your PVCs. I want to thank you for making the PVCs the most popular ID card in Nigeria today. But when you collect your PVCs, don’t use it for other things , the PVCs are for election, not opening of bank accounts, so please use your PVCs for election,”he further said.
Also speaking,the European Union,EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, described the turnout of persons for registration as a start of a great change in Nigeria.
“This is the start of a great change, the youth turnout in Nigeria is historically low, it was than 30 percent in 2019 and even less than five percent in many areas of the country. This time, we know that it would be different, we can feel it, we can feel the energy. Nigerian youths are mobilising, they are telling us that this time they will be ready to be the driver of change,”he said.
“Young Nigerians, you are the massive force, you wield the power to drive positive change in this country . Your PVC is your power, your vote is your power, use it. Go out and register, go out to collect your PVC and go out on the day of the election to cast your votes because your votes will count and your votes will make a difference, don’t give up your power, don’t sell your votes. If you sell your votes, you sell your future, don’t let anyone take your future away from you so go out, vote your leaders, challenge them, hold them accountable. Stand for your values and for your positions. This is the way to build democracy, this is the way you can get a better governance, a better future and a better Nigeria,”he charged Nigerian youths.
Açcording to the EU Ambassador,”The European Union will stand by you, we will continue to support you, and we will continue to work with you to make Nigeria democracy stronger. “
He thanked all those who made the event successful.
“This is the result of a great partnership. Let me thank all the exceptional people and partners that have made this possible, let me thank INEC, all our partners, civil society groups and our celebrities.
“Every long journey starts with a first step and the first step is to register , but then remain engage and let’s continue the journey until the day of the elections because your vote is your power,”he further said.