The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Thursday, unfolded its plans towards ensuring the success of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR), which resumes on Monday.
The exercise, which was last conducted before the 2019 General Elections, was slated to resume in the first quarter 2020, but was abruptly halted due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the commission was not only ready to proceed with the exercise but has also made arrangements to ease the process for both Nigeria’s citizens and its staff.
He said the commission had launched its portal where potential voters could commence the registration process online by filling the forms and other documents before completing the exercise at available offices.
He also disclosed the commission’s plan to deploy 5,346 staff to the 2,673 registration centres nationwide.
“We are now ready to resume the CVR on Monday next week. We have acquired all the equipment for the exercise, updated our registration software and planned for the deployment of 5,346 staff to the 2,673 registration centres nationwide.
Among the equipment for the exercise is a new registration machine called the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED). This device is built around the concept of a Tablet computer and will replace the lap-top based old Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM).
“I am glad to say that our engineers designed the IVED in-house before it was fabricated abroad. It is more mobile and efficient than the DDCM and could also be deployed to other activities, particularly the accreditation of voters during elections. The new machine will be unveiled at this press conference,” Mr Yakubu said.
The commission broke a 25 years jinx barely last two weeks ago when it announced the successful creation of additional 56,872 Polling Units (PUs) to the initial 119,974 PUs in the 36 states and Nigeria’s Capital City, Abuja.
Nigeria now has 176,846 full-fledged PUs, a development many believe could improve voters’ access and reduce the disenfranchisement of voters across the country.
While the development seems pleasant to some, Mr Yakubu noted the fear of others as the country’s electoral process struggles for a more technologically inclined process.
“On this note, let me allay the fears expressed by some Nigerians that many citizens may be disenfranchised by the new digital arrangement,” Mr Yakubu said.
“The Commission is aware that not all Nigerians have computers, smartphones, access to the internet or residing in urban and suburban areas. Some citizens may also have one form of disability or another to make it impossible for them to register online.
“The Commission is also aware of its responsibility under the law to provide every eligible Nigerian with the opportunity to register irrespective of where they live or other circumstances of life.
“I wish to assure you that in addition to the online registration portal, there will be some 2,673 centres where citizens can register physically nationwide.
“Furthermore, the exercise will be carried out continuously over a period of at least one year thereby providing enough time for the Commission to reach all the nooks and crannies of the country. No eligible Nigerian will be disenfranchised.”
Mr Yakubu described the now subsided incessant attacks on the commission’s properties in some parts of the country as plots of the attackers to “undermine the Commission’s capacity to organise elections and other electoral activities, including the CVR. Luckily, only buildings, equipment and materials have been destroyed.”