Seven Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend the deadline for continuous voter registration, explaining that it is more important than party primaries.
The CSOs said the extension of the deadline which is slated for June 30 and online pre-registration for May 30 will enable more enthusiastic eligible voters to be accommodated democratically, and will also allow those who want to move/transfer their PVC, correct names, and date of birth, to do so.
This was contained in a statement on Monday signed by Kenneth Eze, Executive Director, Speak Out Africa Initiative; Kabibeeb Adewale, Team Lead, YVoteNaija; Daisi Omokungbe, Executive Director, PROMAD Foundation; Eme Lekuwa, Team Lead, Civily; Ebenizar Wikina, Founder, Policy Shapers; Ephraim Okenwa, Executive Director, LEAD Afric; and Omowumi Ogunrotimi Executive Director, Gender Mobile Initiative.
“To date, the larger society still finds it difficult to come to terms with the rationale why the INEC suddenly rescinded her earlier position of not going to yield to the political party’s pressure on party primary extension even when there was no convincing basis for doing such. A more worrying part is the reactions from many quarters casting aspersions on INEC’s image as not truly “independent” (which is not good for the
institution), especially from the leading opposition party who were in the wee of their presidential primary while the announcement was made – a scenario many views as changing the goal post while the match had already started.
“While we admit INEC early kickoff notice for citizens to go out for continuous voter registration, we must also take cognizance of the teeming new potential voters, most of which are moved by the recent development of events in the country as well as CSOs voter education campaigns across the board. Alarmingly, this set of voters is now being driven by new narratives against the old norm; embracing the power of the ballot. Hence, the door must not be shut at them as in them lies our strength as a nation, and we must harvest them,” the statement read.
The organisations argued that “Voters are critical stakeholders in the electoral process and should be treated as such”. (as the saying: what is good for the goose is also good for the gander). Hence, treating all eligible Nigerian voters fairly would advance the people’s right to vote and to participate in their own government.”
They added that extending the deadline for voterregistration would be entirely in consonance with constitutional and international standards, and the Electoral Act 2022 as well.
“In conclusion, “the INEC must not only be independent and impartial in the exercise of its constitutional and statutory responsibilities but
must also be seen to be independent and impartial as public perception from citizens also matters in deepening our democracy,” the CSOs stressed.