At least 93.5 million Nigerians have registered to vote in the 2023 general elections, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Stating the total number of eligible voters to participate in the exercise as preliminary registered eligible voters, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu noted that 12.29 million Nigerians have successfully registered as as new voters as part of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise which has just been completed. .
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday at the third quarterly meeting with political parties, Yakubu said that after rigorous data cleaning using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), more than 2.78 million people have been identified and removed as ineligible registrants.
Therefore, he said, the commission has identified 23 of its registration officers for severe punishment for attempting to carry out multiple registrations of Nigerians.
The electoral body leader’s revelations came as the All-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) gave him a vote of confidence for his innovations to reshape the electoral process.
Political parties specifically welcomed the deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) and the INEC Results Visualization Portal (IReV) during the recently concluded elections in the country and for the general elections this year. next.
Speaking at the meeting on BVAS and IReV, the CENI President said the decision to roll out the two innovations for the upcoming polls was cast in stone.
He said the Commission had started training master trainers on election technology last week to ensure a transparent process.
He pointed out that from Thursday, the Commission will start the same training at the zonal level and then train all its ad hoc staff for the 176,846 polling stations nationwide.
Therefore, he reaffirmed that there is no turning back on the deployment of BVAS for voter accreditation.
He said: “There is no rollback on the transmission of results to the INEC IReV results viewing portal in real time on election day.
“There will be no incident form allowing ineligible people to vote using the PVCs of other people’s permanent voter cards during the election.
“We are committed to ensuring that the 2023 general elections are transparent and credible, reflecting the will of the Nigerian people.”
Yakubu specifically noted that at the end of the CVR exercise recently, 12,298,944 Nigerians managed to register as new voters and that after rigorous data cleaning using the biometric identification system (ABIS), a total of 2,780,756 (22.6 percent) were identified as ineligible and invalidated filers.
He said: “Among those whose registrations were invalidated were double/multiple registrants, underage persons and outright bogus registrations that did not comply with INEC’s business rules.
“Therefore, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188.
“In terms of demographic distribution, 7.2 million new voters, or 76.5%, are young people between the ages of 18 and 34, while there is a slightly higher number of women (4.8 million or 50.82 %) than men (4.6 million or 49.18%). ) voters. In terms of occupation, 3.8 million (40.8%) are students.
Yakubu noted that hard copies giving full details of the distribution of new voters were included in the folders of stakeholders attending the meeting.
For staff who engaged in misconduct during the recent CVR, he said the Commission has so far identified 23 check-in agents involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has been taken. committed against them.
He said the Commission will continue to protect the integrity of our voters list.
Yakubu said it was essential for credible elections, adding that it was also a national asset and by far the largest citizen database in Africa and one of the largest in the world.
According to him, “The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them carried out their duties conscientiously.
“Unfortunately, some of them did not. The dummy recordings were made by some of our recording officers involved in the field exercise and could be easily traced.
“Each check-in machine is managed using an access code linked to a dedicated email assigned to staff.
“So there is an audit trail that gives the total number of people registered by each official involved in the registration exercise. In some cases, some of them have made up to 40 or more attempts to register a fake voter.
“As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 registration officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has been taken. We will continue to protect the integrity of our voters list. This is essential for credible elections.
“It is also a national asset and easily the largest citizen database in Africa and one of the largest in the world.
“The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The Preliminary Register of Voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. This is a preliminary as Section 19 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to post the hard copies of the voter register for each registration area (ward) and local government area (and simultaneously publishes the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for review, complaints and citizens’ objections no later than 90 days before a general election.
As a result, Yakubu said in the coming days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 register pages, while the hard copy will be posted for each of the 8,809 registration areas (wards) and 774 local government areas nationwide. national.
Further, he said the entire register will be posted on the INEC website for complaints and objections, as required by law.
He said that the display of the physical register will take place in the designated centers from Saturday 12 to Friday 25 November 2022.
He said: “Further details, including the procedure for filing complaints and objections, will be published by the Commission next week. I would like to appeal to all Nigerians to take the opportunity of the posting to review the list and help us clean it up further so that the final voter register for the 2023 general election can be compiled and published.
“The Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of the printing of the remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those who have requested the transfer or replacement of their lost or damaged cards.
“In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure transparent PVC collection. We are aware that Nigerians are waiting for an improvement in the PVC collection procedure. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards.
For his part, the president of IPAC, Engr. Yabagi Yusuf Sani, who spoke on behalf of the political parties, said the INEC leadership was on track for the 2023 general elections.
He reaffirmed IPAC’s confidence in the leadership of INEC for their continued demonstration of diligence, uncommon zeal and patriotism in pursuing the agency’s statutory mandate.
Sani also condemned the attacks on the INEC Chairman by dark personalities who used unregistered and unknown groups to launch slanderous online attacks against Professor Yakubu solely because of his commitment to introducing technologies to improve the electoral process.
Based on our assessment, he said “INEC has been on the right track, IPAC management further wish to take this opportunity to condemn the emerging campaign of buffoonery and defamation of certain shadowy personalities and cowards who clearly embarked on a treacherous and unpatriotic plot to overthrow the outstanding landmarks the CENI has recorded in recent years in the annals of the nation’s electoral history.
“For us at IPAC, the real object of the venom darts directed at the person of the president and the institution of INEC is only a decoy.”
He said the real target of the machinations is the circumvention of the deployment of BVAS, electronic transfer of results and other security features that INEC has skillfully and painstakingly put in place to enhance the integrity of the electoral process.
“The false claims they orchestrate, especially on online platforms, are part of the strategies to set the stage for their planned attack to achieve their nefarious goal in legal frameworks.
“It also aims to blackmail and intimidate Professor Mahmoud Yakubu into surrendering by undermining the position of the Commission on strident and airtight security measures against diseases of rigging and other electoral malfeasance that had perpetually tarnished integrity of elections in the country. past.
“However, we believe they won’t get what they want, no matter how desperate they are and no matter how much their pranks and machinations are there,” he said.
Sani said the use of technology in the conduct of elections in Nigeria has become sacrosanct and a fait accompli.
“Every player in the power game in the country must come to terms with the new reality that they can no longer rig elections brazenly and with impunity.
“Mr. President, you can count on the usual support of IPAC and, as it is, the goodwill and support of most citizens of the country in the current circumstances. We urge you to stand firm and strong in the knowledge that you have your hard-earned reputation to protect; that the eyes of the whole nation, and indeed the wider world community, are keenly focused on you.
“Ultimately, your choice on current issues will go a long way in defining your legacy, long after our generation. In other words, history calls to you,” he said.
Speaking further, he also expressed his concerns about the emerging negative signals against the peaceful and credible conduct of the 2023 general elections which he said include the brazen violation of the provisions of the Election Law and other applicable laws on the use of the money with impunity during the last off-season gubernatorial elections in Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states.
He said the IPAC leadership has also noted the spike in the use of divisive language and hate speech by several leaders and spokespersons of certain political parties in the media and at political rallies.
“We want to assure you that the reprehensible, irresponsible and reckless statements that are already heating up the political system with the potential to lead to the even more dangerous dimension of inflaming mutual hatred, animosity and violence along the fine fault lines nation’s challenges are being addressed by IPAC,” he said.
He said efforts to ensure decency and issue-oriented campaigning will show in the conduct of its members, who he said are the registered political parties, candidates and their spokespersons.