The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said not less than 95 million eligible voters would participate in the 2023 general elections.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Wednesday at an event organized by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Yiaga Africa at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC.
According to the INEC boss, there are 15 countries including Nigeria in West Africa but that the total number of registered voters in the 14 countries combined is 73million.
“It is exactly 136 days to the 2023 general election. It is the seventh successive general election since the restoration of democracy in Nigeria 23 years ago in 1999. This is the longest unbroken period of democracy and democratic elections since independence from British colonial rule 62 years ago in 1960.”
“We have never had this long spell of unbroken period of democracy, democratic governance and elections. The election is significant because the incumbent President is not eligible to run, this being his second and final term.
“There are 18 political parties in the race to produce the next President to be elected by 95m voters. We had over 84m registered voters in 2019. But with last Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR), we are going to add at least 10m Nigerians and that will take the Register of Voters to 95m,” Yakubu said.
He said that by this development, there will be 22m more voters in Nigeria than the whole of West Africa put together.
“Each time Nigerian goes to the polls, it’s like the whole of West Africa voting. And these 95m citizens will vote in 176,846 polling units (PUs),” he said.
He added that beyond the presidential election, governorship elections will also hold in 28 out of the 36 states of the country, while elections are held off season in eight states.
“But there will also be elections for all 109 Senatorial districts in the country, 360 federal constituencies, 993 state constituencies and the Presidential, making a total of 1,491 constituencies for which 18 political parties are sponsoring 12,163 candidates,” Yakubu said.
Concern over insecurity
Yakubu also raised concerns about the rising levels of insecurity across the country, saying the commission has its ‘fingers crossed’.
He said, “It is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is not new but the dimension of the insecurity is new in the sense that in the past, it was localised or confined to a particular part of the country – the North-East but now, it is more widespread.
“We are keeping our eyes, particularly, on the North-West and the South-Eastern part of the country. Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, materials, and even the voters themselves. Without them, elections cannot be conducted. We, however, have spoken to the security agencies and they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed.”