By Naomi Sharang
The Senate has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to extend ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) to wards and polling units and on permanent basis.
This followed a motion by the Minority Leader, Sen. Godswill Akpabio on “The Continuous Voter Registration: Matters Arising” at Wednesday’s plenary.
Akpabio said that the registration, which began at local government level on April 27, had faced several challenges across the country.
He said that the problems included malfunctioning Direct Data Capture Machines and non-availability of the machines in some areas.
He said that governorship election would take place in Osun in June, 2018 and that if the challenges were not tackled, they may jeopardise the election.
“The inability of the Federal Government to effectively address the challenges of the exercise can lead to disenfranchisement of voters which could result in serious voters’ apathy.
“This may also render the 2019 general elections unacceptable, not credible and undemocratic,” Akpabio said.
In his contribution, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan (Lagos-APC) said that the ongoing voter registration was “a sham”, claiming that INEC was not prepared for the exercise.
He decried the situation where at a registration centre, one could find only one or two capturing machines.
“This exercise should be decentralised to the polling units across the country with immediate effect and provide more data capturing machines so that Nigerians can be registered and fully prepare for 2019 election.
“The number of manpower should also be increased by INEC,” he said.
On his part, Sen. Theodore Orji (PDP-Abia) said “nothing is happening in most of the states.
“I want to remind INEC that the most important ingredient of this exercise is prospective voters. When the voters are not there the exercise is useless.
“The voters are not doing anything because of the distances from the centres. They have to be motivated to go and vote and how can they be motivated.
“You motivate them by providing transport and that is what some political parties have done.
“Therefore what we will do is to help INEC to tell state governments to help the voters by providing transport that will take voters to the registration centres, if INEC cannot bring the centres near to the people.’’
In his remarks, President of the Senate, Dr Saraki Bukola, called for improvement on the exercise.
Meanwhile, INEC has said that it would require N137.4 billion to extend ongoing voter registration to polling unit level across the country.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known at a meeting between the commission’s management and Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Kaduna on Wednesday.
Yakubu said that the cost was calculated based on five staff members currently deployed for the exercise in INEC offices in the 774 local government areas in the country.
He said that the cost comprised daily expenditure of N1, 379, 689,000, variable cost of N4, 323,409, 080 and one-off-cost of N131, 763,990,000.
He explained that 629, 858 personnel were needed to be deployed at the polling units for the daily registration, adding that for security, “on the basis of two officers per unit, 239,946 security personnel would be required’’.