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2023: CSOs appeal to INEC to extend Continuous Voter Registration, says voters’ participation is paramount

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider extending the deadline for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

Technocrat Media, Abuja

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has appealed to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to consider extending the deadline for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.

INEC has set the deadlines of May 30 for online pre-registration and June 30 for physical validation.

A statement on Monday issued in Abuja, co-signed by the Executive Directors of the seven civil society organisations in the coalition said, rising from the influx of Nigerians most especially, ‘first-time voters’ who are willing to participate in the 2023 general elections, INEC should extend the CVR deadline.

“Rising from the influx trailing the recent turnout of Nigerians willing to perform their civic duties in the 2023 off-cycle elections, vis-a-vis the odd against them regarding time, – especially the “first-time voter’s”, it is unavoidably pertinent that the electoral umpire considers the extension of the deadline for continuous voter registration earlier slated for June 30, 2022, and online pre-registration for May 30, 2022, to enable more enthusiastic eligible voters to be accommodated democratically.

“In addition, it will also allow those who want to move/transfer their PVC, correct names and date of birth, to do so.

“In what many people see as having played to the gallery of political parties cum politicians regarding INEC one-week extension of party primaries, the more widely acceptable option would have been an extension for the continuous voter registration cum online pre-registration deadline to give room for more Nigerians to exercise their franchise,” the group said.

The group added that Nigerians still find it difficult to come to terms with the rationale why the INEC suddenly rescinded her earlier position of not going to yield to political parties’ pressure on party primary extension even when there was no convincing basis for doing such.

They further said: “A more worrying part, is the  reactions from many quarters casting aspersions on INEC 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.”

The group commended INEC on the early kickoff notice for citizens to go out for continuous voter registration, saying the Commission must take into cognizance 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.

They said the new set of voters is now being driven by new narratives against the old norm; embracing the power of the ballot, stressing the need for INEC not to shut its doors against them.

They added that this “lies our strength as a nation and we must harvest them.”

The CSOs noted that it will be a thing of worry that INEC has yielded to politicians and party requests on primaries extension, and not considered the citizens’ demands; which they described as more honourable.

“Thus, this will be seen as playing a double standard. Albeit, INEC mandates ought to be exercised in a fair, just, and non-discriminatory manner.”

“It’s worthy to note 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.”

“More so, we are certain that extending the deadline for voter registration would be entirely in consonance with constitutional and international standards, and the Electoral Act 2022 as well. Furthermore, any such extension would also not impact negatively on the INEC’s election calendar and activities.”

“To be candid, if voting is as important as the INEC always claims it is, now is the time to show that Nigerian voters will be treated equally and fairly as the future of Nigeria’s democracy depends on it.”

“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 group said.

The coalition comprises seven CSOs; Speak Out Africa Initiative, PROMAD, YVoteNaija, Civily, the Policy Shapers and Gender Mobile Initiative as well as LEAD Africa.

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  1. Pingback: VOTER REGISTRATION: CSO calls for extension, INEC chairman assures no ‘eligible Nigerian’ would be left out - | Technocrat Media Nigeria

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