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SERAP wants voter registration deadline extended

By Matthew Ogune (Abuja) and Silver Nwokoro (Lagos)
30 May 2022   |   4:04 am
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to extend the voter registration exercise...

Yiaga canvasses BVAS for Ekiti guber poll, partners UNDP for 60% eligible voters’ mobilisation

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, to extend the voter registration exercise, as was done for party primaries, for more eligible Nigerians to get captured.

Against its earlier stance, INEC, last week, extended by six days, from June 3 to June 9, the closing date for conduct of primaries by political parties. Also, the online pre-registration ends by today, May 30, while the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) terminates by June 30.

In the letter dated May 28 and signed by its deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said: “Voters are also critical stakeholders in the electoral process. Treating all eligible Nigerian voters fairly would advance the people’s right to vote and to participate in their own government.”

Extending the voter registration deadline, according to the group, would provide more time for eligible voters, including young people, the elderly, people living with disabilities, as well as those resident in states experiencing security challenges and living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) IDP camps to participate in the 2023 elections.

It continued: “Extending the deadline for voter registration would be entirely consistent with constitutional and international standards and the Electoral Act.”

Any such extension would also not impact negatively on INEC’s election calendar and activities.”

The organisation urged charged the electoral to be independent and impartial in the discharge of its constitutional and statutory duties.

“The public perception of the independence and impartiality of INEC is essential for building public confidence in the electoral process and ensuring the credibility and legitimacy of the 2023 elections,” SERAP noted.

IN a related development, Yiaga Africa, yesterday, expressed concern over voter inducement by political parties participating in the forthcoming Ekiti State governorship election.

In its third pre-election observation report on the state released in Abuja, the non-profit organisation also warned INEC against conducting the poll without effective deployment of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS).

It said the commission could not afford to fail in this regard, insisting that the BVAS achieved a reasonable success in the Isoko South 1 state constituency by-election in Delta State.

Yiaga advised the electoral umpire to conduct a mock voter accreditation with the BVAS before its eventual deployment for the Ekiti gubernatorial poll, even as it advised the commission to increase its voter education/information efforts, especially in underserved communities.

SIMILARLY, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Yiaga Africa are to mobilise at least 60 per cent of eligible Nigerians to register, collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and cast their ballots in the 2023 elections, using traditional and non-traditional tools of political mobilisation.

The two bodies made the pledge, at the weekend, in Abuja, during the award N1 million grant to 13 young Nigerians to mobilise minimum of 5,000 young voters each to register in the ongoing CVR exercise, collect their PVCs and vote in next year’s general elections.

UNDP Nigeria Resident Representative, Mohamed Yahya, said increasing voter’s participation and making the processes accessible to young Nigerians were key to the country’s future.

He said the #Powerof18 Initiative had proven that Nigerian youths were not only ready, but also possess the ingenuity, talent and determination to make a significant impact at the poll.

The UNDP official explained winners of the contest would work closely NEC and Yiaga Africa’s civil society partners in their respective states to implement the project from June to December this year.

In his remarks, Yiaga Africa’s Executive Director, Samson Itodo, observed that the initiative was another testament to the creativity and innovativeness of young Nigerians, besides their passion and willingness for political participation.