Lagos, Kano lead the pack
By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
Thirty-eight days to the next month’s general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Monday revealed that after the mandatory display of the register in all polling units nationwide for claims and objections between November. 6 and 12, 2018, the final register for the 2019 general elections stood at 84,004,084 voters.
This is even as the Commission raised the alarm over what it called a new method of vote buying being devised ahead undermine the voting process.
Analysis of the register of voters by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the general election, which begin next month, shows that Lagos and Kano States still maintain the lead in the exercise.
The final register for the 2019 general elections, which stood at 84,004,084 voters, according to Yakubu, “is the register that will be presented to each political party at today’s (yesterday’s) meeting. It is also the same register that will be available at each polling unit nationwide on election day.’’
The INEC Chairman revealed that there was no change in the number of polling units and voting points used for the 2015 General Elections and the 2016 for area council elections in the FCT.
While revealing that the Commission had printed and delivered the PVCs to the States for collection, Yakubu advised all registered voters to approach any of INEC’s Local Government Area offices and other designated collection centres nationwide to pick up their cards in person, not in proxy.
He concretely assured that the Smart Card Readers would be used for the 2019 general elections for accreditation of voters, stressing also that the registered of voters has been modified.
The register of voters was presented by the Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu to the registered political parties yesterday in Abuja.
The INEC Chairman stated that a total 84,004,084 Nigerians will vote in the elections, after carrying out automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS) on persons who registered during the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise.
Out of the over 84 million voters, Lagos State accounted for 6.6 million while Kano has 5.5 million voters.
It will be recalled that in 2015, Lagos and Kano States recorded 5.8 million and 5.0 million respectively.
Further analysis of the voters register showed that North West has the highest number of registered voters with over 20.2 million. This was followed by South West with 16.3 million voters.
The South East has the least with slightly over 10 million voters. North East recorded 11.3 million; North Central, 13.4 million; and South-South, 12.9 million.
The analysis further showed that male registrants was 44.4 million while female accounted for 39.6 million voters.
Prof. Yakubu disclosed that INEC has printed and delivered the permanent Voters’ cards (PVCs) to all the states for collection by registered voters.
He however noted with regrets that millions of cards were still yet to be collected.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, however, raised alarm during the presentation of the Voter Register for 2019 general election to the registered political parties that the commission has received credible information that some partisan actors have started going round, buying up Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) from voters or financially inducing them to collect the Voter Identification Numbers (VIN) on their PVCs.
In his words, “In some instances, telephone numbers and details of bank accounts of voters have been collected. By collecting the PVCs, their intention may be to deprive the voters of voting since no one can vote without the PVC.
“By collecting their phone numbers and bank details, the intention is to induce voters by electronic transfer of funds to their accounts since it will be difficult to buy votes at polling units.
“By collecting the VINs, they may be acting on the mistaken notion that our system can be hacked into and the Card Readers somehow preloaded ahead of election and compromised,” he said.
Yakubu however reassured Nigerians that the commission is aware of the new tricks, describing it as “a futile effort”.
He assured further, “We will work with the security agencies to deal with the violators of our electoral laws, including those who may be trying to compromise our staff responsible for making the PVCs available for collection by legitimate voters.’’
The INEC Chairman disclosed that the commission had responded to the menace of vote buying in three ways, including the alteration of the configuration of polling units by moving the ballot boxes closer to the voting cubicles making it difficult for voters to expose their marked ballot papers.
The Commission, he added, has introduced a partial ban on the use of mobile phone and other photographic devices by voters while in the voting cubicles.
Continuing, Yakubu said, “We are introducing the rolling and flattening of ballot papers by voters before casting them into the ballot boxes.’’
He, however, told the leaders of political parties that the deadline for submission of the list for party agents for Presidential and National Assembly elections was Feb. 1, while that of governorship, State Assembly and FCT Area Council elections was Feb. 16.
Prof. Yakubu further disclosed that the commission would keep close watch on campaign finance by political parties by monitoring spending by parties and candidates as well as individual and group donations to campaign organisations.
According to him, “The Commission has designed Campaign Finance Reporting Forms to ensure compliance with the reporting requirements by parties.
“The EC16C for annual finance reporting by parties, the ECl6D for income (including contributions and donations) and EC16E on party expenditure are already available on the Commission’s website”, he said.
In a presentation on the voters’ register, the Commission’s Director of Voter Register, Mr Iro Gambo, said that the South South had 12, 841, 279 voter register representing 15. 29 per cent of 84,004,084 total number of register voters.
Gambo added that North Central had 13, 366,070 representing 15.91 per cent; South East 10,057, 130 register voters, representing 11.91 per cent, and South West 16,292, 212, representing 19.39 of the total register voter .
He added that the North West 20,158,100 representing 24 per cent, while North East has 11, 289, 293 representing 13.44 per cent of the total registered voters.
The figure showed that male accounted for 39, 598,645 representing 47.14 per cent of total registered voter, while the remaining 44,405, 439 making up 52.86 per cent of the voters were female.