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Nigeria Electoral Commission to Assess Voter Registration

Muritala Diekola, display his new voters registration card in Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011. An effort to register 70 million voters across Nigeria before its April presidential election wobbled to a start Saturday, as volunteers fought with mal

A senior official of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the commission will meet Tuesday to review the “performance” of the ongoing voter registration process ahead of the upcoming April general elections.

Nick Dazan, deputy director for public affairs, said Nigerians have so far responded positively to the ongoing voter registration process.

“The commission will look at the number of eligible voters who have registered and it is going to evaluate whether the number of registrants that are estimated at 70 million can be registered between now and at the end of the exercise. It is also going to consider an extension based on the evaluation,” said Dazan.

“If it feels that it can accomplish the task of registering all eligible Nigerian voters between now and Saturday, then it may not extend. But, if the commission feels that there is [a] need for Nigerians to be given the chance to be registered to make sure that all eligible registrants are registered, then it may consider an extension of time,” Dazan added.

On January 15, the electoral body began registering prospective voters who will participate in the upcoming general elections.

The registration process is scheduled to end Saturday (January 29). But, the electoral body will decide Tuesday whether to extend the period of the ongoing process.

Dazan said the electoral body is still encouraging other Nigerians, who are yet to respond, to register to participate in the country’s democratic process.

“The response has been very enthusiastic, very tremendous and the commission is very happy with the response, and it is asking Nigerians to continue to come out in large numbers to register as… it has also upgraded the machines such that a registrant will have 10 fingers captured in less than five minutes,” said Dazan.

He also praised officials of the commission who are registering the prospective voters in the ongoing voter registration process.

“Their performance has been excellent," he said. "They have shown tremendous resilience in the face of difficulties; they have shown profound patriotism, [and] they have worked under tremendous pressure with calmness and the commission is very grateful to these young people.”

Nigeria is scheduled to hold elections for president, parliament, and state level races in April.