THE upbeat atmosphere surrounding Nigeria’s democracy has been further enhanced with the announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, that the number of new registrants for the Permanent Voter’s Cards, PVCs, has jumped to 10.4 million.

This figure, if optimised and deployed in the 2023 elections, is capable of bringing the change in leadership and governance that the country has been wishing for. Politicians must be put on notice that the leadership the 2023 elections will produce will be a different ball game from what we have been used to.

Rolling out the details, INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, revealed that as of Monday, July 4, 2023, the number of new registrants stood at 10,487,972. Completed registration was 8,631,696(online – 3,250,449 and  physical – 5,381,247).  This is further broken down to 4,292,690, males; 4,339,006, females; 67,171, PWDs; and 6,081,456 youths. According to the INEC boss, the number of Nigeria’s eligible voters now rounds off at 84 million, which is more than those of 14 other West African countries combined.

We applaud the roles the Commission has been playing towards promoting free, fair and transparent elections in 2023. These include the adoption of the voter authentication and accreditation system technology, BVAS; driving the amendment of the Electoral Act to enable direct transmission of results from the polling units to the Commission’s servers in Abuja; year-long registration of new voters and subsequent deadline extension to accommodate the new youth enthusiasm to vote in 2023.

INEC has also collaborated with other stakeholders and social advocacy groups to sponsor the vote-count sensitisation campaigns aimed at bringing in more youthful voters into the mainstream of our democracy. These gestures are helping to boost the confidence of Nigerians that the 2023 elections will be a success.

However, the tasks ahead are still very enormous. INEC must now ensure that all prospective voters who present themselves at the Commission’s offices for registration are registered. People are still experiencing frustrations at the registration centres. Non-indigenes are still finding it difficult to register, especially in some areas in Lagos.  INEC must prevail on its staff to be professional and patriotic on their duty posts.

The Commission must ensure that the PVCs get to their owners, and that they are readable throughout the country. We do not want to hear complaints that the process has been manipulated to favour some candidates or to the disadvantage of the electorate in some parts of the country.

INEC should also deploy its newfound missionary zeal to get the over 20 million unclaimed PVCs collected by their owners. People should be directly messaged when their PVCs are ready, while complaints are quickly and professionally attended to.

We must all cooperate with INEC to ensure the 2023 elections’ success.

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