The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is to conduct fresh voter registration exercise either by the end of this year or early next year.
Sunday Trust got the information through the spokesman for INEC Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega during an enquiry to get situation reports on the commission's mandate to conduct Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, following the discovery that many Nigerians are still yet to get registered after the 2011 general elections.
Spokesman of the INEC chairman Mr Kayode Idowu, in a telephone interview with Sunday Trust, said the commission is not relenting on its mandate to do continuous voter registration exercise.
Kayode said though the commission had conducted pilot tests on CVR in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Sokoto States, it (INEC) had resolved to do a nationwide voter registration exercise either by the end of this year or early next year.
He dismissed the insinuation that the commission's decision on voter registration is being determined by the script allegedly prepared by politicians who have phobia for free and fair election.
He said, "You are aware that we actually did pilot Continuous Voter Registration exercise in some states before the governorship election. We did it in Kogi. We did in Sokoto. We did it in Bayelsa. The law requires us to display that list before election and the Supreme Court ruling came about that time. The time was abridged.
"Even though we did another registration in Bayelsa, we could not use the register. So, because of that Supreme Court judgment, we could not do it in Cross River.... However, we wanted to do it in Edo, and politicians said they didn't want continuous voter registration. So, the commission has decided that before the end of the year or latest by early next year, it will roll it out nationally not even pilot testing now."
When informed that INEC's decision not to conduct voter registration early enough had fueled insinuations that the commission is assisting politicians who have phobia for free and fair election, Idowu reacted, "What do you mean by early enough, I just told you that we actually pilot tested. Before you start something, you are requested to pilot test it and that is what we have done with the governorship elections; I mean the one that happened since 2011. We pilot tested.
"Having pilot tested, though we couldn't go round all the states where governorship elections were held, the commission has decided that it will roll it out nationally now, not just in selected areas, but nationally by the end of the year or by early next year. How does that agree with any politician's position? "The law requires us to do it. There is time limit within which we have to do it. We needed to pilot test it. The general registration in 2011is different from Continuous Voter Registration. I hope you are aware that while we did the general registration at the Polling unit level, the Continuous Voter Registration will be at the Ward level. We needed to pilot test and that is what we have done in those states that we had elections like Kogi.
"We will roll out by the end of the year or early next year so that people can register at the Ward level. Even those who registered then, and for one reason or the other, their data could be gotten will be attended to. If you remember, there was issue that some people's fingerprints cannot be captured and had their names on voter register. All these ones will be corrected so that by 2015, we have a perfect register.