• Deletes underage voters • Lagos, Kano maintain lead, S’East lowest
• Commission begins airlift of sensitive materials to states
• IPAC vows to resist anti-democratic forces
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared that only 93, 469,008 Nigerians are eligible to vote in next month’s poll. The Commission also said it is not considering postponement or cancellation of the election due to security threat.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this while presenting data of registered voters to political parties in Abuja, yesterday.
In attendance at the meeting were leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Labour Party (LP), and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), among others
According to him, the presidential and National Assembly elections slated for Saturday, February 25, 2023 and that of governorship and state assembly elections slated for Saturday, March 11, 2023, will hold as scheduled. He maintained that any assertion as regards postponement or cancellation of the election was not the official position of the Commission.
“Following the display of the voter register nationwide and the conclusion of claims and objections by citizens, a new national register of voters has been compiled. In short, at no time in the recent history of the Commission has so much of forward planning and implementation been accomplished 44 days ahead of a general election.
“Therefore, the Commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone the postponement of the general election. For the avoidance of doubt, the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday February 25, 2023 while governorship and state assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday 11, March 2023.
“The repeated assurance by the security agencies for the adequate protection of our personnel, materials and processes also reinforces our determination to proceed. The 2023 general election will hold as scheduled. Any report to the contrary is not the official position of the Commission.” Yakubu stated.
On the voter register, the INEC boss disclosed that 53,264 names were removed after objections made by Nigerians. Yakubu said: “You would recall that for the 2019 general election, Nigeria had a voter population of 84,004,084. After cleaning up of the data from the last Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise (June 2021 – July 2022), 9,518,188 new voters were added to the previous register, resulting in the preliminary register of 93,522,272, which was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections as required by law.
“At the end of the period for claims and objections by citizens, the Commission received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register by virtue of age, citizenship or death. These names have been verified and removed from the register. Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 general election stands at 93,469,008.”
A breakdown indicates that men constitute 52.5 per cent while women make up 47.5 per cent of the total figure. Also youth constitute 39.65 per cent, middle-aged 35.75 per cent, elderly 18.94 per cent and old (70+), 5.66 per cent.
According to the final data released by INEC, the North West geopolitical zone maintains its lead with a total of 22.25 million registered voters. As at the 2019 elections, the North West zone, comprising seven states (Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Jigawa) had 20.15 million voters.
The South West, which comprises Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo, has risen from 16.29 million in 2019 to 17.95 million. The North Central, which is made up of Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Kwara, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory trails behind with 15.36 million voters.
In the fourth position is South South, which comprises Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo and Delta states. The number of registered voters rose from 12.8 million to 14.4 million, while the North East, made up of Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe, now has 12.5 million voters.
The South East, which comprises five states (Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Imo), recorded the lowest number. As of 2019, the region had 10 million registered voters. This has now risen to 10.9 million.
A state-by-state breakdown reveals that Lagos has the highest number, increasing its figure from 6.5 million to seven million. Kano State also maintained its second position, increasing its figure from 5.4 million to 5.9 million. Kaduna State now has 4.3 million registered voters, while Katsina has 3.5 million.
Speaking further, Yakubu said the Commission would continue to take every step to protect the sanctity of the votes cast by citizens and deal with infractions, including the arrest and prosecution of persons that attempt to perpetrate illegality at polling units on election day, be they underage voters or vote buyers.
According to Yakubu, with the presentation of the register of voters to political parties, the Commission has successfully implemented 11 out of the 14 activities on its schedule.
He disclosed that substantial quantities of sensitive and non-sensitive materials have been deployed to various locations across the country. Noting that the last batch of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) has been received, the INEC boss said ongoing configuration of the critical technology in readiness for elections would soon be completed.
He further revealed that the Commission had commenced airlifting other sensitive materials to states across the country, adding that some of the materials for 17 states in three geo-political zones had been delivered. He added that about 13,868,441 Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) have been printed, delivered to states and are being collected by citizens.
Speaking, National Secretary, Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC), Yusuf Mamman Dantalle, said the 2023 general elections would be different from previous polls, on account of the Electoral Act 2022. He assured Nigerians that the Council would resist anti-democratic forces trying to frustrate the innovations brought by INEC so far.
“We are equally appealing to political party leaders in the country to see that power belongs to God and He gives it to whomever He wishes,” he added.