With INEC’s Fresh Voter Registration at 10.1m, 2023 Becomes Highly Competitive, Anyone’s Game
•We’ll deliver the best general election, Yakubu boasts
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday, disclosed that its fresh registration of voters nationwide had hit 10.1 million on Monday, July 18.
With this development, however, the 2023 general election might have become highly competitive and anyone’s game with political parties now having additional 10 million voters to poach for support during the elections.
This, nonetheless, INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, has said the commission under his watch would deliver the best general election in the history of the country come 2023.
However, discussing the new registration breakthrough, INEC disclosed this in its weekly update, quarter four, week 13, released two nights ago on its social media platform.
According to the electoral body, 10,139,247 registrants had completed their registrations out of which 3,357,188 were done through online, while 6,782,059 were done via physical registration.
It said 5,022,392 of the registrants that completed their registrations were males; while 5,116,855 were females and 75,422 were Persons With Disabilities.
Also, the age distribution, according to the statistics from INEC, showed that 7,195,676 of the registrants were youth of ages 18 to 34; while middle aged between 35 and 49 were 2,025,258.
The elderly between ages 50 and 69 were 808,021 and the old from 70 and above were 110,292.
INEC, however, said it had received a total of 26,645,124 applications for voter transfer, requests for replacement of PVCs and update of voter information record, etc.
Interestingly, this development might have upped the ante ahead of the 2023 general election, especially given the progression of voter registration each election year from 2015, when the Muhammadu Buhari administration came on board.
In 2015, for example, INEC had projected that about 68, 833, 476 Nigerians would vote in the February general election.
Presenting the voter register to political parties and Nigerians in general, then Director of Information Communication Technology at INEC, Chidi Nwafor, said the figure was arrived at after the commission removed all anomalies in the voter registration process.
According to Nwafor, about 73. 5 million Nigerians had registered to vote in the elections, but more than 4 million did double registration, hence they were weeded.
Former INEC boss, Attahiru Jega, who commented on the development, explained that thorough work had gone into ensuring that the actual figure of eligible voters was captured.
However, in 2019, some 84.2 million Nigerians were registered to vote in the elections.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahood Yakubu, at a regular meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja, said 14.5 million Nigerians registered between April 27, 2017,when the Continuous Voter Registration began and August 31, 2018, when the exercise ended.
Added to the 69,720,350 persons that were registered in 2015, the total number of registered voters then stood at 84, 271,832.
“At the end of the exercise, a total of 14,551,482 new voters were registered. If this figure is added to the existing register of 69,720,350 voters, it means that the nation now has a voter population of 84,271,832,” he said.
Although he then said the number of registered voters might drop after the cleaned up of the register aimed at detecting double registration and illegal registrants, he also called on Nigerians to help the commission to weed out illicit registrants.
Therefore, with the update, the current number of registered voters stand at over 94 million people, creating a large pool of voters of different leanings for political parties to poach from.
Relatedly, INEC, who pledged to deliver best ever general election in Nigeria in 2023, gave the assurance when Yakubu received delegations of the International Republican Institute (IRI) and that of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in Abuja.
He said the meeting was the first that INEC was hosting after Saturday’s governorship election in Osun and assured them that it would improve on its successes in subsequent elections.
“We are encouraged by your kind words, but there is still a lot of work to do. We assure you that we will continue to work not only hard but even harder to deliver the 2023 general election.
“I have listened to some of the issues raised but perhaps, when we go into the working session, there will be an opportunity for us to respond to some of the issues,” he told the delegations.
Yakubu also spoke about the governorship elections held in Ekiti in June and that of Osun held on Saturday.
“As for the preparation for the 2023 general election, I want to assure you that we promised Nigerians that Ekiti was going to be good and Ekiti was a good election.
“We promised that Osun was going to be better, Osun was a better election. We are promising that the 2023 general election will be our best election ever and we are committed to delivering best election ever,” he said.
Earlier, Mr Frank LaRose, Secretary of State for Ohio, U.S.A and leader of the delegations, commended INEC for its various efforts at improving on the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
LaRose, who is an election commissioner in the State of Ohio, described his first visit to Nigeria as a great learning opportunity and urged INEC to keep improving on Nigeria’s electoral system.
“I lead a delegation of high level election experts from around the region, as well as from the United States. These are delegations, who share with you the common belief that the people of Nigeria deserve to continue to have free, fair, and acceptable elections, so we are working to prepare for the presidential election in 2023.
“We took the opportunity to visit Osun, because that was only the second time election has been conducted under the new Electoral Law. We met with the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Osun and we observed many different polling locations on Election Day.
“First, I want to commend you all for the on-going work that you do to continue to improve. We always know there is room to get better. We, however, need to first recognise the continuous improvement that INEC has made to deliver safe elections, and that is something that we were able to see first-hand,” LaRose said.