We Have Registered 9.7 Million New Voters, Says INEC Chairman



THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it registered 9.7 million new voters between April 27, 2017 and June 14.

INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu stated this yesterday at the INEC Youth Votes Count Campus Outreach at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

The event was organised in collaboration with the European Union (EU) in commemoration of Europe Day 2018 and the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES).

Mahmood, who delivered the keynote address, launched an INEC voter registration centre at the university as well as the Voter Education Volunteer Programme (UNILAG) chapter.

He said: “From the 27th of April last year till 14th of June this year, we registered 9.7 million new voters in Nigeria. The majority of them are young people. So, you have the power to change. There cannot be proper elections conducted in this country without young people…”

He said the antidote to security challenges at polling centres is active participation by the electorate.

According to Mahmood, “nobody will take a gun where they know they will be challenged, but when people abandon polling units, it becomes easier for merchants of violence to disrupt the process.”

The event was also attended by Head of EU delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ambassador Ketil Karlsen; Project Coordinator, ECES, Rudolf Elbling; and Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Lagos State, Sam Olumekun.

Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, actor/comedians Bright Okpocha, alias Basketmouth, Ayo Makun (alias AY), Helen Paul (alias Tatafo) led a panel of discussants at the event.

Karlsen urged the youth to take advantage of their numerical strength and own the electoral system in Nigeria.

He added: “What I would really like to assemble is the strongest partnership ever between the European Union and Nigeria and strongest partnership ever between the European Union and the youth of Nigeria.”

Jalade-Ekeinde said: “The point is not whether or not the candidate of your choice wins but the point is to put the numbers behind them to give them the needed confidence to try again. Come 2019, we should be ready to waste our votes even if it is just to make a point and disrupt the status.”

Basketmouth, AY and Tatafo urged young adults to go beyond merely complaining but get their Permanent Voter Cards and exercise their franchise either by contesting for office or voting.

UNILAG Vice Chancellor Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe urged the students to seize the opportunity provided by the event to “participate in the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise” and collect their permanent voter cards.

“This voter education campaign for students of tertiary institutions must be applauded,” Ogundipe added.

It was learnt yesterday that the United States (U.S.) and United Kingdom (UK) funding of election activities in Nigeria since 2014 will soon hit $60 million.

UK recently pledged additional $7.3 million, which bring to $26 million the total support for the country. The U.S. has supported Nigeria with $34 million within the said period.

The latest pledge, according to a statement by Mr. Joe Abuku, Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, is contained in the amended Memorandum of Understanding to extend joint funding to support Nigeria’s electoral process through 2020.

The statement reads: “On June 22, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) amended a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to extend their joint funding arrangements to support Nigeria’s electoral processes through 2020 with an increased DFID contribution.

“The additional £5.5 million (US $7.3 million) pledged by the UK brings DFID’s contribution to the joint funding arrangements since 2014 to $26 million, augmenting the $34 million provided by USAID since that time, bringing the total funding support for free, fair, transparent, and peaceful Nigerian elections through this joint mechanism to $60 million over six years.

The amendment update was signed at the U.S. Embassy by USAID Mission Director Stephen M. Haykin and DFID Governance and Social Development Team Leader Oliver Blake.