Despite calls for an extension of the Continuous Voters’ Registration (CVR), Nigeria’s election management body explains reasons it had to put the exercise to a halt on Sunday
By Ibrahim Gaddafi Tanko
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has explained its decision not to reinitiate and continue with the suspended continuous voters’ registration (CVR), by an additional two months.
This announcement is coming on the heels of a request by a coalition of over 70 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), demanding an extension of the exercise by two months to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters in next year’s polls.
Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekami, stated emphatically that the commission will be unable to extend the exercise, given that there are other activities to be tidied up before the 2023 general elections.
It noted that bringing the exercise to a halt on Sunday, 31st July 2022 became necessary, so as not to hamper preparations for the 2023 general elections.
In the statement, the election management body amongst other reasons stated that it is required to “clean up the voter register to remove multiple registrations using the Automated Biometric Identification System ABIS.” It also noted that “the CVR will resume after the 2023 general Elections and all those who couldn’t register now will have the opportunity to do so.”
With the data released by the commission, out of approximately 10,487,972 Nigerians who carried out their pre-registration online, only 3,444,378 Nigerians representing 32.8 percent completed the process at physical Centres.
The development thus implies that 7,043,594 persons, representing over 67 percent of those who began the online registration process, are not eligible to acquire a permanent voters card (PVC) before the 2023 general elections or participate in the voting exercise.
According to INEC, 12,298,944 Nigerians had initially completed their voters registration, but only 8,854,566 of the number were individuals who did their registration entirely at physical centres.
The Commission had in June 2021, resumed the exercise by launching an online portal where qualified Nigerians could pre-register by filling in their bio-data and other associated credentials. The process required thereafter that they proceed to designated INEC centres to complete the process physically as a condition precedent to complete the registration process.
It had earlier suspended the registration extension on June 30, acceding to the demands by CSOs and the injunction of a Federal High Court which stopped it from ending the exercise, thus extending it to July 31.
Civil society organisations under the aegis of the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room made a case for an extension of the exercise to incorporate prospective voters, explaining that reports at its disposal revealed a cumbersome CVR process despite INEC’s assurance of a seamless exercise.
Arguing that “there is still a window for extension in accordance with the Electoral Act, 2022,” the Situation Room noted that with the CVR ending 31st July 2022, many interested Nigerians will be left disenfranchised from the 2023 polls “even when the Commission can stretch itself a bit more to continue registration voters.”
The CSOs also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the issues of insecurity by overhauling the national security architecture, widening unemployment, and pervasive poverty.