The Chairman of the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC), Professor MAHMOOD YAKUBU, said the commission is set to commence the nationwide Continuous Voters Registration exercise.
The Chairman made this known at a press conference held at the INEC headquarters in Abuja on Thursday 1st April, 2021.
According to the Chairman, the exercise was supposed to have commenced in the first quarter of 2021, but there were challenges that needed to tackled.
He noted that “although the commission promised to commence the continuous voters registration in the country, prevailing circumstances stopped the recommence of the CVR in the first quarter of 2021. Our thinking at the time was that at the turn of the new year, we would have completed all outstanding off-season Governorship elections and that the pandemic would have eased. We also needed time to put in place new systems that would facilitate safer registration of voters, should the pandemic persist”, he said.
The chairman pointed out that, there are three cardinal reasons why the exercise could not start earlier. The first is the establishment of new systems that would ensure safer CVR exercise in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, the Commission is building a new online registration portal that would enable new registrants to commence registration online and subsequently complete the capture of their biometric data at designated registration centers. This is designed to reduce crowding. Through the online portal, they can schedule their visits to the registration centers to suit their convenience.
Above all, a CVR Locator is integrated into the new portal which will enable online registrants to locate the nearest registration center available to them to complete their registration. Previously, registered voters who wished to transfer their voting locations, apply for replacement of their PVCs or correct their personal information had to appear physically at the registration centers. The development of this portal, which is being done in-house by our engineers, has taken a little more time to complete than the Commission anticipated.
The second reason according to the Chairman is the Commission’s determination to expand voter access to Polling Units.
You would all recall that recently the Commission embarked on a nationwide engagement with Nigerians in which it raised the fundamental issue of declining voter access to Polling Units across the country. The engagement clearly demonstrated that the existing Polling Units are inadequate. They were initially designed to cater for a projected 50 million voters but presently serve over 84 million voters. In addition, many of the Polling Units are inaccessible to voters, especially Persons With Disability (PWDs), and are not conducive to implementing the Commission’s election regulations, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In line with the above, the commission has commenced a far-reaching programme of converting Voting Points and Voting Point Settlements into full-fledged Polling Units and relocating poorly situated Polling Units to better locations.
Thirdly, the Commission has decided to introduce a new voter registration equipment and technology. The present generation of voter registration equipment, which the Commission introduced in 2011, is the Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM). The Commission is therefore migrating to the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), which is based on an Android tablet. The procurement of the new devices, the modification of the registration software by their in-house engineers to make it compatible with the Android Operating System, as well as integrating it with the online registration portal require a little more time, the chairman noted.
So in consideration of these challenges and the measures taken by the commission, it is now set to commence the continuous voters registration on Monday 28th June 2021.
The following critical activities by the commission will be accomplished within the following timelines leading to the recommencement of the exercise:
Expansion of voter access to Polling Units – 11th May 2021, Building and testing of the online registration Portal – 15th May 2021, the Arrival of the new generation of registration devices – the IVED – 31st May 2021, the Recruitment and training of Voter Enrolment Staff – 14th June 2021 and the Restart of CVR – 28th June 2021.
The Chairman therefore urged all Nigerians who are 18 years of age and have never been registered to vote to do so.
He also called on all those who have issues ranging from accreditation, loath of PVC, transfer of voting locations, corrections of typographical errors to do so during the CVR exercise.
The CVR exercise will commence nationwide and will be carried out continuously for over a year until the third quarter of 2022.