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Nigeria Electoral Commission to Issue ‘Permanent’ Voter Cards

Nigeria's electoral chief and academic Attahiru Jega attends a meeting with staff from the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja, March 17, 2011. (AP Image)
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) will soon issue millions of permanent voter cards in time for the next general election, according to Nick Dazang, the INEC deputy director public affairs.

“INEC has given out a contract for the production of the first batch of 40 million permanent voter cards to be distributed before the 2015 general elections,” said Dazang.

The electoral commission, which registered over 73 million new voters for the 2011 general elections, at the time, issued temporary cards to voters.

But, Dazang said INEC has signed contracts for the production of permanent cards with special electronic security features.

He said the electoral commission will continue to register prospective voters who turned 18 years of age, as stipulated in the constitution.

“The commission intends to begin a regiment of continuous voter registration, probably before the end of this year, but certainly before the 2015 general elections,” Dazang continued.

“That would be to allow those who have turned 18 after the 2011 general elections to register to vote in subsequent elections,” he said. “And to also enable those who were unable to register in 2011, to now register, so that they can now get voter ID cards and vote in 2015.”

The chairman of the INEC, Attahiru Jega, says the new voter cards will be issued before the end of the year. With the new security features, Jega said, the cards will improve the integrity of Nigeria’s entire electoral process.

“The issues of people using other people’s cards to go and vote, stealing cards or even buying cards will be squarely dealt with,” said Jega. “We already have all the data in our database. We are now going to issue the permanent voter cards. All we need to do between now and 2015 is to buy what I call ‘card readers’ in which we will store all the information.”

Dazang added that the new security features will reduce or eliminate voter fraud in future elections.

“These voter cards have security features that cannot be easily changed, such as electronic chips. The commission also intends to use card readers that will authenticate, by up to 100 percent, the genuineness and ownership of these permanent voter cards,” Dazang said.

He said the INEC will soon launch a campaign to educate Nigerians about the new cards, which he said will protect their vote.

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