The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has so far registered more than 3,630,529 new voters in Continuous Voters Registration across the country.
Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the Chairman of INEC, who stated this during the ongoing induction retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners in Uyo on Friday, said the continuous registration exercise would continue until 60 days to the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu explained that the retreat was organised to acquaint the newly appointed resident electoral commissioners of the commission’s activities.
According to him, the retreat would fine tune ways of improving the management and conduct of ongoing continuous voters’ registration.
“For the first time in the history of the Commission, citizens who have attained the voting age of 18 years and those who could not register during the previous CVR exercise, now have the opportunity to do so.
“So far, 3,630,529 new voters have been registered,” Yakubu said.
Yakubu said that the commission had received about 120 applications from political associations seeking registration as political parties.
The chairman added that already 46 political parties had been registered by the commission.
He urged the resident electoral commissioners to work in synergy with all INEC headquarters, Zonal State and local government levels to achieve success.
“This coordination and synergy must be sustained through increased lateral and horizontal intra and inter departments communication.
“Every department, every unit and all personnel have an important role to play in the conduct of election,”he said.
The INEC chairman assured that the commission would introduce imaginative approaches to addressing the special needs of marginalised and special groups of voters in 2019.
He noted that one persistent challenge facing the commission has been low level of voters turn out in some recent elections, saying, “We must redesign and develop more effective voter education strategies and platforms while we continue to work with other stakeholders to galvanise voters to come out and vote.”
Yakubu charged the resident electoral commissioners to remind independent umpire, an impartial and firm followers of operational procedures established by the commission at all times.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr Mike Igini, Akwa Ibom REC, noted that the retreat came after a successful conduct of election in Anambra.
Igini urged the commission to address the issue of low level of women participation in Nigerian politics.
He commended the development partners especially the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their continuous support to the commission.
In his goodwill message, Dr Samuel Bwalya, the Country Director of UNDP in Nigeria, said that INEC has been come a pace setter in elections management in West African sub region.
He urged the commission to address the issues of violence, poor internal party democracy, low levels of accountability and transparency within political institutions.
The country director, who was represented by Mr Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding added that these challenges could derail progress towards attaining long lasting democratic governance.
He said that UNDP would continue to support the country in deepening democracy, peace and sustainable human development.
The theme of the two-day retreat is: “Political and Institutional Context for Conduct of Free, Fair and Credible Elections.”
Source:News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)