As the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ended yesterday, after an earlier extension to enable more eligible voters partake in the exercise, the electoral body has insisted that there would be no further shift in the deadline of the process.
The Commission, however, said the exercise would continue after next year’s general elections.
According to Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, this is due to the time required to, among other things, undertake all the backend activities needed to produce the PVCs.
He said those who were unable to register during the period and even despite the extension, would have to wait until after next year’s general elections when the CVR would resume, adding that the Commission has registered 13.6 million new voters since April last year, when the process started.
“It was in the Commission’s bid to enable as many Nigerians as possible obtain their PVCs that the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise was launched on April 27, 2017.
“It was the first time in the history of the Commission that the CVR would be implemented on a truly continuous basis, as envisaged under the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). Before now, INEC carried out voter registration only at particular periods,” he told The Guardian.
On allegations that some prospective registrants had to tip INEC staff to get registered at all or fast-track the process, Oyekanmi said: “The CVR is free of charge and Nigerians are not required to tip INEC staff members. Anytime we receive reports of this nature, we investigate. If any staff member is found culpable, sanctions will be applied.
“I must say that in some of the cases that we investigated, it turned out that those collecting money were not INEC workers, but touts who cashed in on the situation to make quick money for themselves. Some of them have been arrested and handed over to the Police.
“However, I want Nigerians to also know that INEC has very hardworking workers who are putting in a lot of efforts to ensure that the Commission achieves its objectives. They are often unsung, but without them, the Commission cannot achieve anything.”
There was a further upsurge of eligible voters seeking registration during the last week in many centres across the country.
In virtually all the centres, the crowd was unprecedented, with many looking forlorn, as it dawned on them that they might not be registered and hence not be able to vote in the coming elections. Some of them vented their frustrations on INEC officials, who they blamed for their inability to get registered.
But Oyekanmi attributed the recent upsurge in the number of people turning up at the registration centres to the rush to beat the August 31 deadline for the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
On collection of PVCs, he said that is not a problem at all our centres, compared to those seeking to register, adding: “If you go to the right centre, your PVC will be waiting for you. But if you go to the wrong centre, you will not be able to get your PVC.”
Although, the collection of PVCs continues until one week to next year’s general elections, he, however, urged registered voters yet to collect their PVCs not to wait until the deadline draws close, as experienced during the CVR, before they do so, saying the earlier, the better.
He disclosed that the Commission was intensifying efforts to sensitise Nigerians on the need for those who have registered, but yet to collect their PVCs to do so, working in partnership with major stakeholders, including civil society organisations, religious bodies and leaders and the traditional rulers, just as he said all registration centres were also making PVCs available for collection.
He added: “Nigerians can also check their status on our website via http://voterreg.inecnigeria.org and follow the instructions.
Alternatively, they can check by sending an SMS in the following format- State, Last Name and Voter Identification Number (VIN) to 0817 164 6879. They will receive a response within 20 minutes.