INEC Registers 9.7m New Voters

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• EU spends over €100m on elections in Nigeria

Segun James

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has disclosed that the electoral body has registered over 9.7 million new voters since April 2017, saying the number will increase if more youths participate in the process.

Also, the European Union (EU) has disclosed that it has spent over €100 million for election processes in Nigeria since 1999.

Yabuku disclosed this wednesday during IENC’s Youth Vote Campus Outreach Programme sponsored by the European Support to Democratic Governance in Nigeria (EU-SDGN) at the University of Lagos.

Yakuba stated that even though majority of the registrants are youth, the commission however noticed that few of them are students, a situation which prompted the need for the campus outreach.

According to him, some of the few students that have registered actually did so to use their Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) for other purposes, such as banking facilities and identification instead of actual voting, adding that this attitude must change.

He told the students of the university, majority of whom have not registered, that the commission has opened a registration centre in the university in order to encourage them to vote, adding that the Not Too Young To Run Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari has put more powers in the hands of the youth in order to be the change that the country needed.

Yakubu said studies had shown that the youths have been the most patriotic of all Nigerians, telling them that no proper election can take place in the country without the active participation of the youths.
He wondered at the apathy for registration by the eligible student, saying even though they were reluctant to register, they are the ones that the commission have been using to conduct elections in the over 12,000 polling stations in the country.

While calling the most patriotic of Nigeria he regretted that some of them have paid heavy prices in the process of conducting elections in the country.

He told the students that their vote will ultimately count, saying that the INEC has the largest database of citizens in Nigeria, a situation which will soon help ensure that nobody, once registered can vote twice anywhere in the country and that every vote counts.

When asked about the recall process of legislators in the country, Yakubu admitted that the process is not only difficult but very expensive.

Yakubu said that none of the 27 attempts at recalling any legislator since 1999 has succeeded.

He therefore advised that it’s better to vote in someone who the people believe in, and that will do what the people need and want than to resort to a costly recall process which may not work.

Also speaking at the event, the Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Keti Kalsen, has disclosed that the EU has spent over €100m to support election processes and practice for advancement of democracy in Nigeria in the last 20 years.

He stressed that the money was spent to support Nigerian policies and ideas and not to influence the country in anyway.

Kalsen made it clear that the EU is not trying to influence Nigeria to be like Europe, instead it is more interested in the advancement of democracy the world over.

According to him, the EU believes that what is good for Nigeria will ultimately be good for Europe.
He urged the students and other youths to come out not only to register but to vote and be voted for, saying that “your are not just the future, you are the present. Take advantage of it.’

Kalsen said the reason EU was sponsoring the campus outreach programme was because it believed very strongly in the Not Too Young To Run policy of the federal government, adding that in most nations all over the world, the youths have indeed taken over and are in charge.

Also speaking at the event moderated by Mr. Seun Okinbaloye of the Channels Television, top Nigerian entertainment celebrities like Omotola Jolade-Ekeinde, Ayo AY Makun, Baskemouth, Helen Paul and a student leader in the University, Babtunde Durowoju, urged the students to come out and be the change they want in 2019.