Nigeria: Over 1m Nigerians Denied Voting Right During General Elections - Prof Yakubu

26 November 2020

The chairmanship nominee of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, says over one million Nigerians of voting age were being denied voting right during elections due to the provisions of the country's electoral law.

Speaking on Thursday at his confirmation hearing organized by the Senate Committee on INEC, Yakubu noted that the current law allows voters to vote only where they have registered.

He said this has denied INEC staff and ad hoc ones deployed for election duties, journalists and election observers the opportunity to exercise their civic duty during elections.

"We engaged about one million ad hoc staff during the last general elections. This means that the staff and others deployed for election duties did not vote," he said.

He said until the law is amended to allow voters to cast their ballots wherever they are, millions of registered voters would continue to be denied voting rights.

Prof Yakubu also said the Commission needs to construct strong rooms in all the 36 states of the federation and FCT to store smart card readers and other election materials.

This, he said, was to prevent them from burning in case of fire incident.

INEC to address election postponement

He said that the Commission is working hard to ensure that scheduled elections are not postponed again.

He said one of the challenges the Commission had faced was the postponement of the 2019 elections by a week.

Yakubu said it was tough for him because he had to address the nation at 2am and the world press conference later in the afternoon same day to explain why the elections were postponed.

He said INEC had listed 1508 activities to be conducted before 2023 elections.

Ask senate to give Electoral Act in 2021 Q1

Yakubu appealed to the the National Assembly to expedite work on the amendment of Electoral Act.

He stated that the amended electoral framework was germane to the conduct of 2023 general elections.

He said elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty, adding that work on the electoral framework has to be finalized before 2023 elections would be conducted.

"I want to appeal to the Senate to please expedite work on the Electoral Act so that we can conduct elections in an atmosphere of certainty," he said.

"I hope you will give us electoral Act by the end of first quarter of 2021," he appealed.

Why Nigeria witnesses low voter turnout during elections

Prof Mahmood Yakubu explained why Nigeria experiences low voter turnout during elections.

Speaking on Thursday at his confirmation hearing organized by the Senate Committee on INEC, Yakubu said hardly has the country achieved 50% voter turnout during elections.

He said electoral violence and performance of those elected into office were partly responsible for voter apathy during elections.

He said voters asked what those elected into office have done to better their lots that will encourage them to vote.

He said voters also shun performing their civic duty during elections because of electoral violence.

He, however, assured that the Commission would continue to work hard in the area of voter education.

Yakubu said there was also the need for political parties to do more in the area of voter mobilization.

He noted that the Commission could only educate not mobilize voters during elections.

"It's a shared responsibility," he added.

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