Owing to several complaints by voters and others, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday, said it would clean up the voters’ register that will be used for the 2023 general elections.
The INEC boss, who spoke at a national stakeholders forum on elections, organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, NCSSR, described the
cleaning up of the voters’ register is very critical to the impending polls.
He said: “We have been transparent in making the register available both online and manual copies in 9,583 locations nationwide (8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas) for scrutiny by citizens as required by law.
“The voters’ register is the largest database of citizens in Nigeria. Like all databases of this size, it cannot be perfect. However, the Commission believes that Nigerians are the real owners of the voters’ register.
“They are therefore in the best position to point out ineligible persons on the register, including deceased persons, that will help the Commission to improve on this critical national asset.
“I want to reassure you that based on the observations made by Nigerians, we will dutifully clean up the register ahead of the election”.
Besides, Prof. Yakubu, said there was no truth in the insinuation that the Commission would not allow Nigerians to view election results uploaded from various polling units, in real time.
He said the Electoral Act, of 2022, required the Commission to deploy the technology on election day for voter accreditation and the upload of polling unit results to the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.
“These processes will be achieved through the use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). I wish to reassure Nigerians that the BVAS has come to stay as the only means of voter accreditation.
“There will be no incident form on election day. Results from polling units will be uploaded to the IReV portal in real time. Nigerians will view the results as they are uploaded.
“For the last two years beginning from August 2020, the Commission has published results direct from polling units in 105 off-cycle Governorship and bye-elections in real-time and the results can still be viewed on the IReV portal.
“The 2023 General Election will not be different. There is no truth in any insinuation to the contrary. This should put to rest the erroneous notion that Nigerians will not have the opportunity to view polling unit results uploaded by Presiding Officers in real-time on Election Day”, he added.
On the collection of Permanent Voters Cards, PVCs, the INEC boss, said the process was delayed to allow the Commission to conclude the process of identifying and removing ineligible registrants that may attempt to use them during the election.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will soon release the timelines and procedure for the collection of PVCs.
“We understand the anxiety of Nigerians to collect their PVCs and appeal for a little patience as we speedily conclude the necessary safeguards for a transparent process”.
More so, Prof. Yakubu stressed that INEC was determined to frontally tackle the issue of excessive campaign spending by political parties and their candidates, as well as what he termed as the “diabolical practice of vote buying at polling units on election day”.
He said the Commission will soon publish a summary of the guidelines on finances and election expenses of parties and candidates.
“Beyond that, we are mobilising every national institution with the responsibility for tracking and combating the illicit flow of funds as well as the broadcast and print media regulatory agencies to confront the problem head-on. The details of this will be unveiled shortly”, the INEC Chairman added.
Meanwhile, in her remarks, the convener of the NCSSR, Ene Obi, commended INEC for displaying the preliminary register of voters online for claims and objections.
She noted that though the Commission made improvements in the off-circle governorship elections it conducted since the 2019 general elections, “there are still several challenges of utmost concern”.
“Nigeria is currently grappling with multiple security challenges across the country. We also witnessed the most monetized political primaries ever in the just concluded political party primaries for the 2023 general elections.
“What do these all portend for the 2023 General election?”, Obi queried.
She said the Situation Room will continue to work towards improving Nigeria’s elections so as to ensure that the process is free, fair, and reflects the choice of citizens.