2023 Polls: House of Reps Seeks Extension of Voter Registration by 60 Days
By Hussaini Ibrahim Sulaiman, Kano
The House of Representatives has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the Continuous Voter Registration deadline by an extra 60 (sixty) days from June 30, 2022.
This will be in the absence of any extension made by INEC, and would enable more Nigerians to register and vote at the 2023 general polls.
The call was contained in a resolution the House passed during plenary in Abuja on Wednesday. The session was presided over by the Speaker, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The resolution followed a motion of urgent public importance moved by a member from Abia State, Rep. Benjamin Kalu.
The House also asked the commission to deploy additional Adhock staff in registration centres to quicken the process of data capturing and other requirements.
The House further mandated its Committee on Electoral Matters to liaise with INEC and report on why there was a need for a voter registration deadline in Nigeria as compared to other jurisdictions where citizens could register up to a week to the elections.
Kalu’s motion reads partly, “The House notes that the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is scheduled to end on 30 June 2022, ahead of the 2023 General Elections;
“Also notes that the decision to suspend the voters’ registration is in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022 which requires INEC to suspend voters’ registration at least 60 days before an election;
“Aware that in April 2022, INEC declared that about 42% of the voter registrations recorded since the commencement of Continuous Voters Registration on 28 June, 2021 were invalid with about 20 million unclaimed Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs);
“Cognizant of the large numbers of unregistered eligible voters willing to be registered as evidenced by crowd seen at various registration centres resulting in congestion;
Concerned by reports of shortages of voter registration machines, inadequate manpower and personnel at registration centres which may lead to frustrations among prospective registrants and in some cases, unrest at some registration centres;
“Also aware of calls from concerned Citizens and Civil Societies urging INEC to extend the voters’ registration deadline to accommodate eligible voters desiring to register for their Permanent Voters Cards;
“Further aware that the right to vote is critically important to the health and legitimacy of our democracy, as well as electoral integrity;
“Also cognizant that if nothing is done to improve the shortage of voter registration equipment and extend the deadline for voters registration, millions of Nigerians will be disenfranchised thus jeopardizing the integrity of the 2023 General Elections.”