Obi, Tinubu, Atiku
The three main parties’ presidential candidates: (from left) Peter Obi, LP; Bola Tinubu, APC, and Atiku Abubakar, PDP.

•110m may vote in 2023 as 14,137,024 youths register

By Clifford Ndujihe

Amble for PVC may shape polls SINCE political parties concluded their presidential primaries, the polity has been vibrant as millions of people across the country, especially youths, scramble to get registered as voters.


As of Monday June 27, 2022, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had registered 14,137,024 youths (aged 18-34); 6,280,190 middle-aged people (aged 35-49); 2,778,232 elderly (aged 50-69); and 364,597 old people (aged 70 and above).

105.9 million
Specifically, the electoral umpire said as of June 27, it had received 23, 560, 043 applications including those applying for voter transfer, replacement of PVCs and update of voter information records. No fewer than 6,146,335 of this figure are students.


With this, INEC currently has 105.9 million registered voters and the figure may hit 110 million as the commission had, following a court order, extended the registration period indefinitely.


The exercise would have lapsed on June 30. Some concerned Nigerians went to court and got an order to stop INEC from ending the exercise. Accelerated hearing of the case will continue on July 4 (tomorrow). Until the matter is resolved the INEC said voter registration will continue.

Massive registration
The outcome of the primaries of the major political parties, especially the presidential, has been identified as one of the major reasons for the unprecedented upsurge in the number of applicants for PVCs.


The All Progressives Congress, APC, produced former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju BolaTinubu, as its presidential flagbearer while People’s Democratic Party, PDP, chose former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. A former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, who was PDP vice presidential candidate in 2019, left the party a few days before the presidential primaries, saying he could not buy delegates.


He joined the Labour Party(LP) and picked its presidential ticket.
Also, former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso, who left the APC, recently, landed in the New Nigeria Peoples Party ( NNPP) and was handed the party’s presidential flag.

Youths
A sizable number of the youths said they are supporting Obi and Kwankwaso to change the status quo as represented by APC and PDP.


Most of the youths thronging the INEC centres for registration said via many social media platforms that they are for Mr. Obi (OBIDIENT) or Senator Kwankwaso (KWANCERNED), leading to comments that Tinubu and Atiku camps are jittery and threatened by the rising support base of the duo.


The comment gained currency when some traders at Alaba International Market, Lagos, who closed their shops and went to voters’ registration centres for the exercise were attacked by thugs.


A similar scenario happened in Jos where leaders of a major religion in the country prevented people from registering.


However, Media Aide to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar; and Senator Dayo Adeyeye, the national coordinator of the South-West Agenda for Asiwaju, a major support group for Tinubu, have pooh-poohed comments that Atiku and Tinubu were threatened by Obi and Kwankwaso’s rising support base.


Apart from support for Obi and Kwankwaso, there is also a mobilization to stop a Muslim-Muslim ticket allegedly being considered by APC.


Tinubu, a Moslem has submitted the name of Masari, another Moslem as his running mate. APC leaders claimed that Masari’s name was submitted as a placeholder that Tinubu will send a replacement. Will he send the name of a Christian or another Moslem? Top on the list of those being considered are former governor of Borno State, Senator Kashim Shettima, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, and Kano State governor, Umar Ganduje among others. Party sources said to stand a better chance of winning, APC is likely to present a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

Muslim-Muslim ticket
Meanwhile, huge opposition to Muslim-Muslim ticket is building up across the country.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Catholic Bishops Conference, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, and some prominent Nigerians are among those against the move.


Indeed, the PFN held a National Executive Council, NEC, meeting on June 16, 2022, where it charged Christians to obtain and show their PVCs.


Giving insight on the development, Dr Lawrence Ekwok, Cross River State Chairman of the PFN, said: “On June 16, 2022, we held a National Executive Council meeting of the PFN in Lagos comprising all the 36 state chairmen and Abuja, the FCT, along with all the national officers led by the National President, Bishop Francis Wale Oke.


“One of the resolutions taken at that meeting was to declare June 26, which is the last Sunday of June Permanent Voters Cards, PVC, Sunday in all Pentecostal churches across the country. What that means is that leaders of churches are to ask their members to attend services with their PVCs. The essence of that is to be able to know how many of our members have PVCs. “

Surge in registration
However, INEC ended the online pre-registration on May 30. With the increase in the number of those seeking the PVC and mounting complaints, INEC deployed more Voter Enrolment Devices, IVEDs, to areas where the pressure was highest.


“These areas are all the states in the South-East region, Kano, Lagos and the FCT,”
Festus Okoye, spokesman for the commission, who said that INEC leadership met with Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, said the commission “received reports from our states indicating an unprecedented surge in the number of citizens that wish to register as voters and the challenges they face across the country. In some states, the sudden turnout of prospective registrants is overwhelming.


“Consequently, the Commission convened an urgent meeting with all the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Thursday 9th June 2022 to review the situation so that eligible Nigerians who wish to register can do so. The necessity to urgently deploy more voter enrolment machines to ease the congestion at the registration centres was identified as a priority.


In response, the Commission immediately released additional 209 machines deployed mainly to the five Southeastern states, Lagos and Kano where the pressure is most acute.
The Commission will monitor the situation over the next few days. Thereafter, we will meet to review the progress of the exercise.”

Voter apathy
Despite the upsurge in the number of people seeking the PVC and the likelihood of Nigeria having more than 110 million voters in 2023, it is not yet certain if this will translate into a massive turnout of voters at the polls.


In the history of electioneering in the world’s largest black nation since 1979, the country has not recorded 70 percent turnout. The best so far was the 69 per cent recorded in 2003. And worst was the 34.75 per cent recorded in 2019.

Why voters shun polls
During elections it is not unusual to see barrel-chested youths playing soccer on empty roads and streets instead of going to cast their ballots. Some elderly people also do not go to exercise their franchise. The reasons often cited include violence, rigging, poor governance, unpopular candidates, weak campaigns by parties and candidates, poor enlightenment by INEC, parties, candidates, NGOs and other stakeholders and weak patriotism on the part of the electorate.


Speaking on the matter, presidential Candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu, told Sunday Vanguard that the massive registration of voters will add little or no value if people don’t get their PVCs.


According to him, the inability to collect voters’ cards harmed previous polls and efforts to deepen Nigeria’s democracy.


Asked his take on the massive turnout of people for voters’ registration, he said: “It is good but the issue has not been about registering. It is about people collecting their PVCs. If registered voters collect their cards and vote things will change. “The question is will they vote and why are they voting? If they had been voting rightly, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and President Muhammadu Buhari would not have won.

PVCs
“The problem is that INEC makes it difficult for people to collect their PVC. Ordinarily, if you register, you collect your card immediately but they make you go to another place later in future. Some will go to the new place and won’t get the PVC. A lot of people get frustrated and abandon the process.”


However, some youths and people have vowed to follow the process to a logical conclusion. With many of the youths declaring their support for Obi, social media has been abuzz with comments that Tinubu and Atiku are threatened.

Social media ballot different from real ballot — Paul Ibe
Asked if Atiku is threatened by the rising profile of Obi, his Media Aide, Mr. Paul Ibe, said: “Social media ballot is different from the way real voters vote. Everything will end on the ballot box. What is there to be afraid of someone making waves on social media? We will meet on the field. Nigerian voters will determine the fate of the candidates. We are working and marketing our candidates.

Nigerians know Atiku as a unifier, who will make the difference and rescue them from the hands of people who have impoverished us.


“Supporters of other candidates are free to make their claims. We are working with decorum. 2023 will be a referendum on the failed policies of the APC. Atiku is a viable alternative given his years of experience in government, performance as vice president and handling of businesses.”

Tinubu can’t be jittery over Obi – Dayo Adeyeye
On his part, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, who described the massive turnout of people voters’ registration as a sign that “Nigerians are committed to the sustenance of democracy, especially as it is coming from the youths,” said everything would work in favour of Tinubu at the end of the day.


Averring that Obi was not a threat to Tinubu, he said: “How can we be threatened or jittery over Obi or Kwankwaso? We don’t consider them a serious challenge. If you base your strength on the showings on social media it does not mean you are strong on the field. “We are not jittery or bothered. Tinubu has the support of Nigerian masses across the six geo-political zones of the country. The whole thing (Obi campaign buzz) will fizzle out shortly.”

Voters’ turnout in presidential polls since 1979
Registered voters – 48,499,091
Voters turnout – 17,098,267 (35.25%

1983
Registered Voters — 65,304,818
Voters Turnout — 25,430,096 (38.94%)

1993
Registered Voters – 33,156,055
Voters turnout —14,293,396 (43.10%)

2003
Registered voters — 60,823,022
Voters turnout — 42,018,735 (69.08%)

2007
Registered Voters – 61,567,036
Voters Turnout – 35,397,517 (57.49%)

2011
Registered voters – 73,528,040
Voters turnout – 39,469,484 (53.68%

2015
Registered voters – 67,422,005
Voters turnout – 29,432,083 ( 43.65%)

2019
Registered Voters – 82,344,107
Voters Turnout – 28,614,190 (34.75%)

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.