There are indications that the 2023 general elections may be influenced and dominated by Nigerian students and youths, if the records of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) is anything to go by.
INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu in his first quarterly media parley with journalists on Friday said that Nigerian youths between the ages of 18 and 34 constitute the highest registrants in the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration(CVR). The chairman reiterated that the exercise, which forms a critical part of preparations for next year’s general election will be concluded this year.
Prof Yakubu said that as at January 17, 2022, a total of 8,260,076 eligible Nigerians have commenced online pre-registration; completed the registration physically; applied for transfer to new voting locations; requested for replacement of their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs); and updated their voter information records. He said that the Commission has been publishing weekly progress reports of the exercise, including analysis of the distribution of online and completed registration by age group, occupation, gender and disability.
He then said:”Since the exercise commenced in June last year, the Commission has so far published 36 weekly reports which show a consistent pattern of young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34 constituting the largest majority of registrants. In terms of occupation, students constitute the largest majority of registrants which is consistent with the dominance of young Nigerians as voters”.
Below is the text of Prof Yakubu’s remarks:
On another happy note, let me congratulate our friend and brother, Comrade Chris Isiguzo, on his re-election as President of the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ) at its 7th Triennial Delegates’ Conference in October last year. We appreciate the existing strong partnership between the Commission and the NUJ under your leadership. We also look forward to strengthening such partnership, especially as we continue to conduct more off-cycle and bye-elections this year and implement critical activities towards the 2023 General Election which is just 393 days away.
Related to the issue of voter registration is the issuance of PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians want to know when their PVCs will be available for collection. We appreciate the role of media organisations in encouraging and mobilizing eligible Nigerians who have not registered to do so. At the same time, we want you to continue to sensitise them that those who had registered at any time previously need not register again. For those who have completed the registration, the Commission is right now undertaking the most comprehensive cleaning up of the data to ensure that only eligible citizens are added to the voters’ register for the 2023 General Election. We will share our findings with Nigerians very soon. The actual dates for the collection of the PVCs nationwide will also be announced very soon.
In the next 23 days i.e. 12th February 2022, a major end of tenure election will hold in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to elect 6 Area Council Chairmen/Chairwomen and 62 Councillors. This will be followed by two Governorship elections in Ekiti State on 18th June 2022 and Osun State on 16th July 2022. Party primaries for the Ekiti State Governorship election are scheduled for 4th – 29th January 2022. For the Osun State Governorship election, primaries will hold from 16th February to 12th March 2022. In the case of Ekiti State, all the 18 political parties have indicated their intention to participate in the election and have already served the mandatory notices for their primaries to elect their candidates as required by law. The Commission’s preparation for the three off-cycles elections is one of the issues for discussion at this meeting.
In addition to the end of tenure elections, six bye-elections are scheduled to hold on Saturday 26th February 2022 in Cross River, Imo, Ondo and Plateau States. The detailed Timetable is already uploaded on our website and social media platforms. Hard copies are also included in your folders for this meeting. However, three bye-elections are still pending. You may recall that the Commission suspended Ekiti East I State Constituency by-election in March 2020 following its violent disruption by thugs. The election will now be combined with the State Governorship election holding on 18th June 2022. The date for the Shinkafi State Constituency bye-election in Zamfara State will be announced after a thorough review of the security situation in the area, while the Commission awaits the declaration of vacancy by the Kaduna State House of Assembly in respect of Giwa West State Constituency.
On this note, I want to draw your attention to the distribution of voters to Polling Units in the FCT, particularly the fact that 593 out of 2,822 (or 21%) of the total, do not have voters. This is because voters failed to take advantage of the expansion of access to transfer to these new Polling Units. The list of Polling Units having 0 – 50 registered voters in the FCT is among the documents in your folders for this meeting. The Commission looks forward to the support of media organisations to encourage voters who wish to transfer from their present Polling Units to new ones created as part of the Commission’s expansion of access polling units across the country. After all, your support was crucial to the success of the recent expansion of voter access to polling units for the first time in 25 years since the initial delimitation in 1996.
For emphasis, the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) will be deployed in the FCT elections which is the second major election after the Anambra Governorship election held in November last year. The 68 constituencies cover extensive urban and rural locations sharing border with five States in the North Central and North Western parts of the country. This is yet another opportunity to pilot the efficacy of the BVAS in a different geographical, geo-political and electoral context. The same technology will be deployed in all forthcoming elections across the country. Similarly, for all elections going forward, Polling Unit results will be uploaded in real-time on the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal.
As we commence our first regular quarterly consultative meeting for the year, let me once again wish you a happy new year and for the NUJ President and his team a successful tenure.
I thank you and God bless.