News / Africa

Nigerian Voters Begin Registering for April Elections

People wait in line at a registration center in Abuja, 15 Jan 2011.
People wait in line at a registration center in Abuja, 15 Jan 2011.

Voter registration is underway in Africa's most populous nation as Nigerians prepare for April elections to ch oose state governors, legislators, and a president.

Voter registration got off to a poor start with many centers opening late and then having trouble linking laptop computers with fingerprint scanners, cameras, and printers to produce voter cards on site.

Electoral commission chairman Attahiru Jega says the scale and complexity of this exercise is like nothing Nigeria has ever seen. But he is reassuring voters that all of these initial problems will be sorted out by Monday so the remaining two weeks of the registration run smoothly.

Voter registration officer Francis Uche heard many complaints at his center in Abuja. But he believes the electoral commission, which is known as INEC, will get it right.

"Everything will be in place, both the plastic chair and the table and the canopy we needed because we are meant to stay outside," he said. "Everything will be provided by tomorrow morning, and everything will be set."

INEC's problems were compounded by the large number of people who turned out to register, motivated in part by a public outreach campaign on radio and television.

"Only once can you register. Any other registration is a criminal offense. The exercise will start
from 8 am in the morning to 5 pm in the evening everyday. Go to register to vote because your vote is your power. Help INEC to make the 2011 election our best!"

President Goodluck Jonathan was one of the first to register in his home state of Bayelsa, telling reporters that voter registration is the beginning of good governance.

"For us to run our states and local governments and our country well the people must select their leaders," said Jonathan. "And for the people to select their leaders that means that the voting must be done properly. And the only way to do that is to get a proper voter registrations exercise, which is being done by INEC."

President Jonathan came to office eight months ago following the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. He was Mr. Yar'Adua's running mate in a 2007 election that was widely criticized for vote fraud and intimidation. The new government set in motion a series of electoral reforms that Jonathan has continued to pursue as president.

He says all Nigerians should have confidence in the coming vote, even those who dislike his government.

"In some cases, if you criticize the system, you don't even register," he said. "You don't even have a voter's card. This time around, we are emphasizing that your vote must count."

More than 70 million Nigerians are eligible to take part in this voter registration, so there is some concern whether it can all be completed in two weeks. The entire electoral timeline has already been pushed back once because the electoral commission said it needed more time to prepare materials and train workers at more than 120,000 registration centers.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs