The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed June 28, for the resumption of its suspended Continuous Voter Registration across the country, with new technology.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, at a news briefing on Thursday said that the exercise would continue until the third quarter of 2022.
Yakubu also announced that the Commission would replace its Direct Data Capture Machine (DDCM) introduced in 2011 for voter registration with a new technology called, INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED).
The registration exercise took place continuously from April 27, 2017 and was suspended on Aug. 31, 2018.
The suspension was “to enable the commission to prepare the data for the production of register of voters and printing of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) for the 2019 general elections’’.
Yakubu said that INEC could not resume the exercise in 2019 due to litigations that followed the general elections and several off-cycle elections, particularly the Kogi and Bayelsa governorship polls.
According to him in both states polls the same the same register of voter for 2019 was.
He added that the CVR could not also come up in 2020 largely due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that although the Commission earlier promised to start the exercise before the end of first quarter of 2022, the target could not be met for three reasons.
“The first is the establishment of new systems that would ensure safer CVR exercise in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this regard, the Commission is building a new online registration portal that would enable new registrants to commence registration online and subsequently complete the capture of their biometric data at designated registration centres.
“This is designed to reduce crowding. Through the online portal, they can schedule their visits to the registration centres to suit their convenience.
“Above all, a CVR locator is integrated into the new portal which will enable online registrants to locate the nearest registration centre available to them to complete their registration.
“Previously, registered voters who wished to transfer their voting locations, apply for replacement of their PVCs or correct their personal information had to appear physically at the registration centres.
“The development of this portal, which is being done in-house by our engineers, has taken a little more time to complete than the Commission anticipated.”
Yakubu added that the exercise could not start on the targeted quarter due to the commission’s determination to expand voter access to polling units across the country, of which it needed more time.
He added that the Commission had decided to introduce a new voter registration equipment and technology to replace the DDCM introduced in 2011.
Yakubu said that while the DDCMs had served the Commission well over the last 10 years, INEC believed that there were now more compact registration devices that could better serve Nigerians during the CVR exercise.
“The Commission is therefore migrating to the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED), which is based on an Android tablet.
“The procurement of the new devices, the modification of the registration software by our in-house engineers to make it compatible with the Android Operating System, as well as integrating these with the online registration portal require a little more time.
“For instance, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our partners abroad who manufacture the IVED hardware are not operating at full capacity and the pandemic has also made the supply chain and delivery much slower.
“In consideration of these challenges and the measures we have taken to overcome them, the Commission is now in a position to announce Monday June 28 as the date for the recommencement of the CVR exercise nationwide,” Yakubu said.
The chairman, however, said that the Commission would accomplish some critical activities within a timelines leading to the restarting of the exercise.
These according to him include the expansion of voter access to polling units (Pus) by May 11; building and testing the online registration portal – May 15; arrival of the new IVED- May 31.
Other activities listed by him include, the recruitment and training of voter enrolment staff – June 14; and restart of CVR – June 28.
He explained that while the CVR would resume on June 28, emphasis would initially be on Anambra State where more centres would be established in view of the state governorship election scheduled for Nov. 6.
Yakubu said that in order to complete preparations for the governorship election, the CVR exercise in the State would be temporarily suspended in August 2021 to clean up the data for the state and print the PVCs for registrants.
He pledged that the Commission would after the Easter break start consultation with stakeholders on the new innovations.
Yakubu called on all intending registrants, especially those that have turned 18 recently to turn out for the exercise, while urging eligible voters not to register twice.
“The following categories of Nigerians are particularly encouraged to seize the opportunity of the CVR in order to fulfil the important civic responsibility of voting:
“All Nigerians who are 18 years of age and have never been registered to vote;
“Any registered voter who has had any issue during accreditation at previous elections so that the Commission can rectify the problem;
“All registered voters who wish to transfer their voting locations from the present one to another.
“All registered voters who have lost their PVCs or whose PVCs have been defaced or damaged.
“And all registered voters who wish to correct their information such as misspellings of names, dates of birth among others’’.
The highlight of the briefing included the taking of COVID-19 jab by Yakubu and some national commissioners. (NAN)