The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) today announced that the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise will resume on Monday 28th June. To ensure a successful rollout, the Commission has acquired all the required equipment and updated its registration software. A total of 5,346 staff will be deployed to the 2,673 designated centres. The CVR, which was suspended on 31st August 2018 because of preparations for the 2019 General Elections, will continue till August 2022.
Only Nigerians, 18 years and above and who had never registered are qualified to to do. However, the exercise is also open to registered voters who: have had any problem during accreditation for any past election with either their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) or their fingerprints not being read by the Smart Card Reader (SCR); want to transfer their voting location from one place to another; want to correct issues with their data, such as misspelt names or dates of birth; and registered voters whose PVCs are lost or damaged.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who made the announcement at a press conference held at the Commission’s headquarters in Abuja, also revealed that a new registration machine called the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) will be used. The device, a tablet computer, will replace the laptop based old Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM), which was used for the last CVR. Prof. Yakubu said the device was designed by INEC Engineers in-house but fabricated abroad. “It is more efficient than the DDCM and could also be deployed for other activities, particularly the accreditation of voters during elections, “he affirmed.
In response to public demand for better service and repeated calls by stakeholders, Prof. Yakubu said the Commission would for the CVR, introduce a dedicated portal for online registration. According to him, the idea is for intending registrants to commence the registration process online by filling the forms, uploading their pictures and required documents and making an appointment on the web portal for a date and time to visit an INEC State or Local Government office to give their fingerprints and complete the registration.
Besides, the INEC Chairman said registered voters can also carry out all other activities such as transfers, correction of personal details and replacement of damaged or defaced Permanent Voters’ Cards. (PVCs) online.
His words: “We hope that through this portal, we shall reduce overcrowding at our registration centres, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, make the registration processes generally easier, thereby giving Nigerians a pleasant electoral experience.
“The portal will go live in the early hours of Monday 28th June 2021. However, I must quickly reiterate that the online registration is a public service and therefore free of charge. There is no INEC-approved cybercafe, no online registration centre and no scratch card to be purchased for the exercise. All you need is a device, including your mobile phones, that can connect to the internet. Citizens can complete the online pre-registration anywhere and at anytime they choose. Just follow the simple but detailed step-by-step procedure on the portal and contact the INEC Help Desk where necessary. The details are on our website.”
Prof Yakubu also allayed the fears being expressed by some Nigerians that many citizens may be disenfranchised by the new digital arrangement. He said the Commission was aware that not all Nigerians have computers, smart phones, access to the internet or reside in urban and sub-urban areas. He also acknowledged that some citizens might have one form of disability or another that could make it impossible for them to register online.
He said: “The Commission is also aware of its responsibility under the law to provide every eligible Nigerian 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.”
Prof Yakubu said the Commission was deeply concerned over the recent attacks on its offices across the country. He said: “In most cases, these offices have been burnt or vandalized. Clearly, the aim of the attackers was to undermine the Commission’s capacity to organize elections and other electoral activities, including the CVR. Luckily, only buildings, equipment and materials have been destroyed. Although the attacks have subsided, the Commission is still deeply worried by the threat that they could pose to registrants and our staff during the CVR.”
He said that from the various consultations with stakeholders, a consensus was reached that the Commission must place a high premium on securing the lives of registrants, staff members and the protection of the expensive registration equipment to be deployed for the exercise.
He continued: “Consequently, they advised that the Commission should adopt a graduated approach to the CVR exercise by starting online. After appraising the situation, the exercise can then proceed physically at State and LGA offices before finally deploying to all the 2,673 centres nationwide. Based on this advice, the Commission decided to adopt a roll-out and roll-back approach to the exercise such that the registration centres will not only be accessible but safe and secure. After a careful consideration of the suggestions, the Commission decided to modify the CVR schedule (see table below)
|i.||Commencement of online registration only||28th June 2021||Online through the INEC registration portal (https://cvr.inecnigeria.orgor https://cvr.inec.gov.ng )|
|ii.||Commencement of scheduled appointments for online registrants||19th July 2021||INEC State and Local Government offices nationwide|
|iii.||Commencement of physical CVR||19th July 2021||INEC State and Local Government offices nationwide|
|iv.||Commencement of physical CVR at all other Registration Centres||Date to be determined based on evaluation of security situation||All 2, 673 Registration Centres nationwide|
Giving the background of the CVR, the INEC Chairman noted that a good register of voters “is a precursor to a good election.” He said the registration of voters was a major function of the Commission under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).
He explained further: “In exercising its powers under the law, the Commission undertook a fresh registration of eligible voters with every General Election until 2011 when the first reliable biometric register of voters was compiled. Thereafter, the Commission embarked on intermittent registration of voters on the eve of major elections. However, in April 2017, this Commission for the first time began the implementation of registration of voters on a continuous basis as provided in the Electoral Act. As a result, 14,283,734 new voters were added to the register by the time the process was suspended in August 2018 in order to prepare for the 2019 General Election.”