95m Nigerian voters to determine Nigeria’s next president – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that ninety-five million Nigerian voters are to determine the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2023 poll.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this revelation at a function which was organised by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington DC, U.S.

The INEC Chairman made this revelation in a keynote address titled “Nigeria 2023: ensuring credible, peaceful and inclusive elections”, released to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.

He said the 2023 general election is significant to the country.

“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 95 million voters. We had over 84 million registered voters in 2019.

“But with last Continuous Voter Registration(CVR), we are going to add at least 10 million Nigerians and that will take the Register of Voters to 95 million,” Yakubu said.

“Each time Nigeria goes to the poll, it is like the whole of West Africa voting.

“In West Africa, there are 15 countries including Nigeria. But the total number of registered voters in the 14 countries combined is 73 million.

“In Nigeria, it’s going to be 95 million. So, there will be 22 million more voters in Nigeria than the whole of West Africa put together,” Yakubu said.

“The new Electoral Act with its many progressive provisions has provided legal backing to the innovations.

“These innovations are now provided for and protected by law, especially those leveraging on technology to improve voter registration, voter accreditation, result management and the promotion of inclusivity for marginalised persons such as women, youths and persons with disability,” he said.

“This is more than the entire voter population in the Republic of Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde. We are such a huge country of great potentials,” he said.

“The exercise was completed a few days ago. We have not even shared the information with Nigerians, but we have 2.7 million invalid registrants and they have been weeded out.

“We will continue to take steps necessary to protect the integrity of the Register of Voters because it is fundamental to the conduct of elections. There can’t be credible elections without a credible register of voters,” he said.

“We are looking at early to the middle of the month to make the cards available.

“We have already printed over 50 percent of the cards but we haven’t delivered them to the states yet.

“As we clean the data, we also print the cards. Nigerians who have registered should be rest assured that they will have their cards ahead of the general election.

“We also need to do so in good time because the law now requires us to publish the number of cards collected per polling unit,” he said.

“This is because now it’s an interaction between the party agents and the machines and anytime you logged in and out, there is a time stamp, so you can’t argue.

“If you argue, we’ll produce the evidence of what happened. And at 6p.m. on a fixed date, the portal automatically shuts down. If any party has any problem, it’s not the Commission,” he said.

“Another innovation that we introduced is the INEC Result Viewing (IReV) portal. We are perhaps one of the few countries in the world that transmits polling unit level results in real time on election day.

“Proudly, I can say we are the first to introduce it in Africa,” he said.

“We have deployed the IReV in 105 off-cycle and bye-election.

“We believe that the system is robust and we are taking additional measures to safeguard and fortify our web resources generally against threats of attack,” he said.

“Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed.

“Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies; they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections. So, fingers crossed.

“Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections,” he said.

“We believe that the antidote to fake news is greater transparency and openness and we have been demonstrating greater transparency and openness.

“The social media plays a very important role in voter education and deepening democracy.

“But it also has the potential of skewing the narrative with the wrong information that impugn the integrity of officials or seek to delegitimise the commission and the process before, during or after the elections.

“Publication of fake election results is a potential trigger for violence. What we have done is to continue to deepen our cooperation and relationship particularly with the organised social media,” Yakubu said.

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