By Nathaniel Gana
13th July 2021
Barely two weeks after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) opened the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) portal on 28th June, a total of 542,576 Nigerians have undertaken the online pre-registration, according to the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
Out of this figure, 456,909 were fresh registrants. At the same time, 85,667 applied for voter transfer, replacement of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), Update of Voter Information Records and other services.
In the same vein, the breakdown of the total number of pre-registration applicants showed that 356,777 or 66 per cent were young people between the ages of 18 and 34 years; 134, 719 were middle-aged between 35 and 49 years; 44, 896 applicants were between 50 and 69 years, while 6, 184 were senior citizens between 70 years and above.
Prof. Yakubu, who unfolded the statistics during the Commission’s meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) held today in Abuja, also revealed the registrants’ occupational distribution. He said: “On the occupational distribution, 156, 446 are students; 38, 217 artisans; 24, 421 farmers and fishermen; 150, 145 businessmen and traders; 35, 831 employed as civil and public servants and 8, 334 housewives. The remaining 129, 182 registrants did not specify their occupations.”
On gender, the INEC Chairman said 321, 781 males and 220, 795 females applied. In its desire to serve Nigerians better and determine the number of assistive voting devices such as Braille ballot guide and magnifying glasses to be deployed at polling units for persons with special needs on election day, the Commission requested registrants to indicate if they had any form of disability. “So far,” Prof Yakubu stated, “we have data for 6, 558 registrants who have indicated their type of disability.
He said the Commission is aware that not all Nigerians have access to computers, smartphones or the internet, as a result of which they could not take advantage of the CVR portal. His words: “We have repeatedly assured every eligible registrant that there will be an opportunity for physical or in-person registration at designated centres. Even the online registrants will have to complete their registration at those centres. We aim to activate some 2, 673 centres to which we intend to deploy 5, 346 officials for in-person registration.
“However, after consultation with stakeholders, the Commission is proceeding systematically as we review the security situation across the country. We agreed with stakeholders, including the security agencies, to start from our State and Local Government offices. This means an initial 811 locations nationwide, made up of 37 State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) offices and 774 Local Government Areas. We have configured enough machines and commenced deployment nationwide for further training of officials in readiness for the commencement of the physical registration.”
Prof. Yakubu assured Nigerians that the CVR would run for the next one year. He said the Commission had approved a detailed timetable and schedule of activities (See Table 1) for the CVR exercise, including the display of the register of new voters for claims and objections by citizens at various stages of the process as required by law. According to the timetable, the exercise would run from 28th June 2021 to 11th July 2022. The list of the 811 Centres for the take-off of the physical registration nationwide, including their locations and dedicated telephone numbers for each State Office nationwide has been uploaded to the Commission’s website and social media platforms.
The INEC Chairman also spoke on the likelihood of the scheduled commencement of the physical registration process on 19th July coinciding with the Eid-El Kabir public holiday. He said: “The Commission is not unaware that we have scheduled the commencement of the physical registration for Monday 19th July 2021. Already, there are indications that this date or immediately thereafter may be a public holiday. We are also aware that some of the online registrants have scheduled their appointments for the completion of their registration on dates that are likely to be public holidays. The Commission will meet on Thursday this week to review the situation and provide clarity on the matter.”
While thanking Nigerians for their overwhelming support of the CVR exercise, Prof. Yakubu assured them that the Commission would continue to deepen the use of technology to ensure electoral transparency and credibility.