With just four months away from the 2023 general elections, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC), has announced that 93.5 million Nigerians would be voting during the polls.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this on Wednesday, 26th October 2022, in Abuja during the commission’s third quarterly meeting with political parties.
Yakubu said, although 12.29 million Nigerians successfully completed the just concluded Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), 2.78 million were removed as ineligible registrants, this removal was as a result of a rigorous cleanup of the data, using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS).
Among those whose registrations were invalidated were double/multiple registrants, underaged persons and outrightly fake registrations that failed to meet INEC’s business rules.
“Consequently, the number of valid registrations (post-ABIS) is 9,518,188 new voters,” Yakubu stated.
This figure of new voter was added to the already existing 84,004,084 voters giving 93.5 million.
The INEC Chairman gave a breakdown of the demographic distribution of the voters thus:
“In terms of demographic distribution, 7.2 million new voters or 76.5% are young people between 18-34 years while there is a slightly higher number of female (4.8 million or 50.82%) than male (4.6 million or 49.18%) voters.
“In terms of occupation, 3.8 million, translating to 40.8 per cent, are students.”
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 added 412,977 to have 3.6 million.
Breaking down the figures under geo-political zones, the data released by INEC, shows that the North West geopolitical zone has the highest total of 22.27 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. With an addition of 2,120, 670 (now 22.27 million) new registrants, the region maintains its lead.
The South West, which comprises Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo, has risen from 16.29 million in 2019 to 17.93 million, according to the latest data released by INEC. The number of new registrants from the South West is 1,640,374.
The North Central, which is made up of Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Kwara, Plateau and the Federal Capital Territory trails behind with 15.33 million voters; having added 1.96 million newly registered voters to a 2019 figure of 13.36 million.
Following closely in fourth position, is the South South region, which comprises Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Bayelsa, and Edo States. The number of registered voters rose from 12.84 million to 14.4 million, while the North East, made up of Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe, added 1.25 million new voters to reach 12.5 million.
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, with an addition of 930,987,738 new voters.
23 officials for punishment
Yakubu stated that the commission has identified 23 of its registration officers, for severe sanctions, having attempted to engage in multiple and fake voter registrations.
He said, “The Commission deployed thousands of diligent staff for the CVR exercise and the vast majority of them discharged their duties conscientiously. Unfortunately, a few of them did not. The fictitious registrations were carried out by some of our Registration Officers involved in the field exercise and could easily be traced. Each registration machine is operated using an access code tied to a dedicated email assigned to a staff”.
“There is therefore an audit trail that gives the total number of persons registered by each official involved in the registration exercise. In some cases, some of them made as many as 40 attempts or more to register one fake voter.
“As a result, the Commission has so far identified 23 Registration Officers involved in this unethical conduct and disciplinary action has commenced. We shall continue to protect the integrity of our voters’ register. It is pivotal to credible elections. It is also a national asset and easily the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest in the world”.
“The 9,518,188 new voters have been added to the existing register of 84,004,084 voters. The preliminary register of voters in Nigeria now stands at 93,522,272. It is preliminary because Section 19(1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2022 requires the Commission to display the hard copies of the register of voters for each Registration Area (Ward) and Local Government Area (and simultaneously publish the entire register on the Commission’s website) for a period of two weeks for scrutiny, claims and objections by citizens not later than 90 days to a General Election”, he stated.
Accordingly, Yakubu said in the next few days, the Commission will print 9,352,228 pages of the register, while the hard copy will be displayed for each of the 8,809 Registration Areas (Wards) and 774 Local Government Areas nationwide. Also, the entire register will be published on INEC’s website for claims and objections as required by law.
“The display of the physical register will take place at the designated centers from Saturday 12th – Friday 25thNovember 2022. Further details, including the procedure for filing claims and objections, will be released by the Commission next week.”
The INEC Chairman appealed to all Nigerians to seize the opportunity of the display to scrutinize the list and “help the commission to further clean up the database “so that the final register of voters for the 2023 General Election can be compiled and published.
He added that the Commission is also working hard to ensure the completion of printing of remaining PVCs for new voters as well as those that applied to transfer or the replacement of their lost or damaged cards.
“In the coming days, we will also inform Nigerians of the detailed plan to ensure a seamless collection of the PVCs. We are aware that Nigerians expect an improvement in the procedure for PVC collection. Since the end of the CVR in July this year, we have been working to ensure that citizens have a pleasant experience when they come to collect their cards”, he stated.
The INEC Chairman also reassured that the commission is fully committed to deploying the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the 2023 general elections both for accreditation and transmission of results to INEC IREV portal.