In a move to show concern for Nigerians who have not got their Permanent Voters Card (PVC), Nigerian Federal Representatives have asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend registration by 60 days.
Earlier, the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, assured that the Commission will not cause the disenchantment of Nigerians who are willing to register as voters in the current Continuous Voter Registration (CVR).
We are concerned like all Nigerians. We are appreciative of the fact that young people and Nigerians generally are trooping out in large numbers to register. For us, it’s a measure of confidence that people have in the system and that is why they are coming out to register. We’ll never let the young people of Nigeria down. Whatever it takes, we will ensure that those who are seeking to register have the opportunity to do so.Prof. Mahmood Yakubu
He, however, did not mention an extension of the deadline of the CVR.
In light of this, the House of Representatives has urged INEC to extend the June 30, 2022, deadline for voter registration by 60 days, to enable more eligible Nigerians to register, get their PVC and participate in the 2023 general elections.
The House mandated its Committee on Electoral Matters to engage with INEC to “examine and proffer solutions to the shortage of registration machines and manpower.”
The engagement is to also see to the deployment of an additional 30 voter registration machines in each of the 774 local government areas, train and deploy ad hoc staff to improve the shortage of manpower at registration centres and provide security for the ad hoc staff.
A member of the House, Benjamin Kalu, had at the plenary on Wednesday moved a motion titled ‘Need for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to Extend the Deadline of Continuous Voters Registration, Deploy Additional Staff and Voters Registration Machines Across the Country.’
Kalu said, “The House is cognisant of the large numbers of unregistered eligible voters willing to be registered as evidenced by crowds seen at various registration centres resulting in congestion.
“The House is concerned about reports of shortages of voter registration machines, inadequate manpower and personnel at registration centres, which may lead to frustrations among prospective registrants and in some cases, unrest at some registration centres.
“The House is also aware of calls from concerned citizens and civil societies urging INEC to extend the voters’ registration deadline to accommodate eligible voters desiring to register for their Permanent Voters Cards.”
Kalu stated that the right to vote is “critically important to the health and legitimacy of our democracy, as well as electoral integrity.”
He said, “If nothing is done to improve the shortage of voter registration equipment and extend the deadline for voter registration, millions of Nigerians will be disenfranchised, thus jeopardising the integrity of the 2023 general elections.”
On PVC collection, INEC, June 1, noted that 20 million voters’ cards remain unclaimed, and criticised the poor participation of citizens in the ongoing continuous voters’ registration exercise.
You will guess that more Nigerian youth are awake and have decided to participate in 2023. This has caused the surge of registrants at the centres, and INEC’s call to have more machines taken to pressed areas.
This sudden realisation that participation is paramount for a better country has largely been inspired by a campaign by some Nigerians who have used their platforms to ask that people go register to collect their PVCs.
However, an extension of the registration exercise may cause a lax attitude again, as late-coming is a constant trait of many Nigerians.