The Coalition of Igbo groups in Lagos has expressed dismay over the sudden deadline change for voters’ pre-registration from June 30 to May 30, 2022.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the group’s meeting in Lagos Thursday. The group also urged INEC to continue the exercise till September 30, 2022, which would be five months before the election.
The communiqué was read by the Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos, Everest Ozonweke, at a media briefing. He noted that the changes made on the date didn’t benefit anyone adding that elections were critical to good governance.
Ozonweke said those who registered in 2010 were yet to get their voter’s cards, adding that millions of Nigerians are having serious challenges with collecting their cards
He said: “A majority of the electorate voting in an election is critical to get a reasonable verdict of the actual will of the populace for any democratic system.
‘’In view of this, registering eligible members of the population to be able to vote is a critical part of promoting a healthy and fair democratic system.”
‘’The 2023 elections are due in 11 months. That is almost a year from today. We, therefore, cannot understand why INEC will end pre-registration on May 30 and update registration and transfer by June 30, almost a year before the election.’’
Also speaking, Secretary Alalgbo Development Foundation, Emmanuel Mok, said it wouldn’t take INEC more than one month to print and distribute cards.
He said: “Nigeria has had an election where cards were distributed almost a month to the election, voters registration is simply for peoples details to be captured in soft copy online. INEC only needs to send it to a card printing machine, and the machine would roll it out.
“The cards can be printed till two months before the election. INEC does not need more than one month to print and distribute cards. They have structure, distributed all over local governments. From the local government, there are wards, from the wards, there are councillors from each ward across the nation.’’
Nneke Chimezie, President of the Igbo Women Assembly, spoke on behalf of women, saying INEC and the government must work together to boost participation among women, particularly traders and young people.
She said: “We want to get women to register and be part of the election process. Women are the nation managers, but due to conditions in this country, women are lagging in nation-building.
“If you look at INEC criteria for registration, you would agree that so many women haven’t registered because 50 per cent of them are traders. They are street traders who do not have good phones to aid registration. Most women and young people are not registered because some do not have the app on their phones.’’