A coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis of Coalition for Credible Elections 2023, yesterday, demanded that at least 54 million Nigerians must participate in the presidential election in the February 25 election.
It tasked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make this happen by allowing all those who have registered to participate in the election, whether they have their permanent voter’s card or not.
The coordinator of the coalition, Hon. Emmanuel Mok, while addressing a press conference on “The 2023 Elections: INEC’s many unanswered questions,” said the coalition had sued INEC, demanding an interpretation on the legality of denying voters from participating in the election for not having PVC.
He decried the persistently low voter turnout in previous elections, recalling that in 2019, only 19 per cent of voters participated in the election which brought in President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.
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According to him, Buhari only emerged the winner by a meagre six per cent which is very poor.
He stated that there was the need to ensure that the percentage of the winner must be representative of the population.
He said, “To win the majority of votes, it should not only be 25 per cent in 24 states of the country (which the Electoral Act stipulates), showing the fact that there is the need to be a representative percentage of the voters and of the population.
“And from our calculation, the minimum of that is at least 54m people which is 25 per cent of the present population of Nigeria which is about 270m. On this matter, we have taken INEC to court at the Federal High Court Abuja and the hearing comes up tomorrow (today). We are demanding an interpretation. Because INEC is saying PVC but the Electoral Act is saying the voter’s card. Citizens who have registered must vote.”
He stated that without this, INEC would be guilty of conniving with “politicians who are preventing the cards from reaching their owners.” He also advocated that uncollected PVCs must be moved to polling units two weeks to the election.
Mok also raised fears about the newly introduced Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) macine, warning that it might be sabotaged as the election is tied to it. “A provision must be made in case BVAS doesn’t work. This is one of the issues we must address,” he added.
The coalition also vowed to engage communities, residents’ associations, religious leaders, among others on the need to pay closer attention to the electoral process in their domains on Election Day to prevent any untoward activity by anybody.
Another issue raised by the coalition was the logistics and security of election materials, saying using the road transporters might be a bit risky for the whole programme. He said the Armed Forces or Air Force could be used to handle the logistics to avoid the materials from being compromised.