A clearer picture of how the next Governor of Anambra State would be elected on 6th November emerged yesterday when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced a total of 2,525,471 registered voters for the election.
At the same time, the Commission revealed its discovery of some 62,698 persons who registered twice in Anambra State, despite several warnings to validly registered voters not to attempt another registration, when the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) resumed nationwide on 28th June.
Speaking at an emergency meeting convened by the Commission in Abuja yesterday to brief leaders of political parties about its preparations for the Anambra State Governorship, the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, noted that after the end of the CVR’s first quarter, 138,802 citizens completed the registration, which included applications for transfers and requests for replacement of lost, damaged or defaced Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs).
Prof. Yakubu said that in the process of cleaning up the registration data, “we discovered that many previously registered persons re-registered afresh. As a testimony to the effectiveness of our new system for checking double and multiple registrations, the Commission found out that some 62,698 persons who are already registered voters in Anambra State went ahead to register again.
“These double or multiple registrations are invalid by law. We have archived these registrations and will not print new PVCs for them. Their old PVCs remain valid and they can use them to vote at the Polling Units where they registered and probably voted in previous elections.”
He said the same cleaning up exercise was going on nationwide, after which the Commission would provide further details to Nigerians on the outcome in other States of the Federation and the action to be taken on the matter.
The INEC Chairman said: “Let me remind all Nigerians that the law prohibits double registration. The Commission appreciates the fact that the deployment of technology, including the online pre-registration, has simplified the process and made voter registration in Nigeria easier. However, the same technology has also made it easier for us to detect multiple registrations.”
Providing further details on the registration exercise in the State, Prof. Yakubu explained that at the end of the First Quarter of the CVR exercise on 5th September 2021, the number of valid registrants in Anambra State stood at 77,475. This figure was added to the existing register of 2,447,996 eligible voters used for the 2019 General Election. “Accordingly,” he said, “the number of registered voters in Anambra State now stands at 2,525,47. We shall provide a detailed breakdown of the figure for public information in the days ahead.”
Prof. Yakubu also stated that the Commission had completed 10 out of 14 activities in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the governorship election with the publication of the final list of candidates in the State and Local Government Offices in Anambra State on 7th October. All the 18 political parties participating in the election were also given a soft copy of the updated register of voters at a meeting held at the State Office in Awka. The PVCs are being printed, and the Commission would contact their owners via text messages or electronic mail to pick the PVCs up when they are ready.
Continuing, the INEC Chairman said: “We have almost completed the recruitment of ad hoc staff for the election. In all, about 26,000 election duty staff are required. Although there are still some minor shortfalls, we believe that we will complete the recruitment in time for their training scheduled to commence on 19th October 2021. The training of other categories of staff, such as Electoral Officers (EOs) and Assistant Electoral Officers (AEOs) has been completed, while the training of Supervisory Presiding Officers (SPOs) will commence soon.
He continued: “Turning to voter accreditation, I wish to assure you that the Commission is committed to deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for electronic fingerprint and facial accreditation of voters. The pilot deployment of the system in the Isoko South 1 State Constituency bye-election in Delta State held last month was very encouraging. For example, successful full biometric accreditation was 32.8% in the constituency during the 2019 General Election. However, using the BVAS in the same constituency during the recent bye-election, successful accreditation sharply rose to 97.4%. The Commission will continue to deploy appropriate technology to improve our electoral process. Let me once again reiterate the position of the Commission that going forward, nobody will be allowed to vote in any election without successful biometric accreditation.”
Prof. Yakubu recalled that the Commission’s State office in Awka was attacked in May this year, resulting in substantial or partial damage to the main building, collation centre, and store.
Besides, he noted, about 60 per cent of the non-sensitive materials for the election, including 326 generating sets and several Hilux vehicles, which had been assembled at Awka, were equally destroyed. “I am glad to report that we have fully recovered from that attack,” he said. “The buildings have been completely reconstructed and renovated in readiness for the election. All the non-sensitive materials have either been procured afresh or sourced from neighbouring States and our Zonal stores. We are working assiduously with security agencies to ensure that such an attack does not happen again.”
However, he admitted that security remains a significant challenge to the Commission’s preparations. He observed that the heinous attacks in the State have truncated campaigns, making voter mobilization and sensitization impossible for political parties.
His words: “Anambra State is not in the usual election mood. It is in the light of the security situation in the State that the Commission held an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) last Tuesday. The meeting was frank and productive. We are assured of the determination of the security agencies to protect voters, election staff, election observers, the media, transport providers and candidates during the election. Already, security around INEC facilities in the State has been ramped up. We are also confident that the heightened deployment of security officials, which is expected in the coming weeks, will further give citizens the confidence to turn up and vote on Election Day. We shall continue to work with the security agencies to ensure that the election is successful and violence-free.”
Prof. Yakubu implored all political parties and their candidates not to exacerbate the feeling of insecurity in the State through unguarded utterances and actions. “This could compound the security situation and make the work of the Commission, political parties and security agencies even more difficult. It may also lead to voter apathy.”
He added: “This moment calls for statesmanship and maturity hence the decision to convene this emergency meeting. We are confident that the outcome of this engagement will be productive and helpful to the Commission and political parties as we continue to prepare for the Anambra Governorship holding on Saturday, 6th November 2021.