NIGERIA: The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), which is the principal body tasked with the organization of elections in Nigeria has announced a temporary suspension of the ongoing continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise. The exercise which usually allows prospective voters who have just come of age or for one reason of the other misplaced their voters card to apply and thus be able to perform their statutory rights as citizens of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Well, that would no longer be the case as this would now only be possible after the 2019 general elections as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released a statement saying it has decided to suspend the registration of new voters.
According to Augusta Ogakwu, Secretary to the commission, who announced this in a memo to resident electoral commissioners, the exercise will be temporarily suspended on August 17 to enable sufficient time for data capture and production of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
She said the suspension decision was taken after consultations with stakeholders regarding the electoral process, especially pertaining to the voter registration.
“The stakeholders expressed satisfaction with the commission’s preparedness for the conduct of the 2019 general election and enjoined the commission to continue to do more to ensure free, fair and credible elections,” read the memo, dated July 6.
“On the CVR, the stakeholders noted the need to comply with statutory timelines and unanimously agreed that sufficient time be given between the data capture, processing and production of PVCs.
“Based on the recommendations of the stakeholders and taking into consideration the statutory obligations to end the revision, update, certification and publication of the voters’ register for the general elections, the commission decided to suspend the ongoing CVR at 3.00pm on Friday, 17th August, 2018 until after the general election.”
Ogakwu, however, added that collection of PVCs will continue until a week to the commencement of general election on February 16, 2019.
“The commission will undertake, overhaul and intensify its publicity initiatives in order to ensure that all qualified Nigerians who wish to register are able to do so and collect their PVCs before the general election,” she said.
As expected, this has raised a lot of eye brows as to the timing, reason and motive behind such a decision. Some Nigerians and opposition parties believe this is a scheme by the ruling party to disenfranchise the masses from performing their duties in the next elections which they perceive may not be in their favour.
Only time will tell whether this has anything to do with the declaration by Nigerian ethnic nationalities, self-determination groups, civil society organizations and professional and youth organizations after their meeting in Lagos that they have no confidence in the president.
In a statement released after the Two-Day meeting, the group said:
"We pronounce that the current dangerous situation which places the younger generation of Nigerians at the receiving end of all the violent incidences is unacceptable and must be halted," the group said. "Clearly, the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has failed in the discharge of its primary responsibility of securing citizen's lives and properties."