INEC gives insight on voter registration, says, “Faith organisations are our stakeholders”

By Wilson Adekumola

Amarachuwkwu, Luka Buba, Father Raymond Anoliefo and Uche Aso at the one-day sensization workshop

The Desk Officer of Nigeria Civil Society Organization, Voter’s Registration Department, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Office, Lagos, Luka Buba, has enumerated steps that prospective voters should follow to register and get their voters card.

Buba gave the run down at a sensitization workshop at St. Pio Catholic Church, Surulere, Lagos organised by Church Arise, a non-governmental organisation.

He said the websites for the registration are https:cvr.inecnigeria.org and https:cvr.inec.gov.ng.

He however said after the online registration the prospective voter needs to go to the INEC office close by for biometric capture and the Permanent Voter Card

You can create a portal account

He said, “You can transfer your voter’s card to where you stay now if you have relocated. You can update your information like date of birth, names,  on the online portal. New PVC will be issued for you to enable you to vote. If your card is lost or damaged, you can request another one. Those who have just turned 18 should also register”

Buba explained further, “When you visit the INEC website you can create a portal account. The password will be created so that you can log in to review your information and log out. The registration is actually for those who have attained the age of 18 years and above. You can also transfer your PVC from your former place of residence to a new place.

“Those that lost their PVC or have it damaged can still get another one but they will still need biometric capture at the INEC office. It is the number of accreditation that ballot paper will be issued at the polling unit to avoid irregularities during the election. We started issuing PVC since 2011 so if you have it is still valid unless if it is defaced or lost you can do another one. Or maybe you have issue with capturing or thumbprint you can do another one.”

He assured that the INEC is well prepared for the 2023 elections noting that technology has made the process easy.

Let’s discourage voter apathy

On election malpractices, he told Church Times, “You always have such because it is a game where you have different players coming to contest under different political parties.” He however added that election malpractices should not discourage people from casting their votes.

“Voters need to come out to cast their vote and after that defend it till collation and announcement of results.  A lot of people have registered and they have not picked up their cards. Some got theirs but they do not come out to cast their vote on the Election Day. Voter apathy is one of the banes of our elections.

He said INEC has continued to use technology to aid the electoral process.

“This time around it has improved the accreditation process by introducing a bi-modern accreditation process whereby voters are going to be accredited through the fingerprint or facial biometric for them to be able to cast their vote.

“For this now,  the incident form that was formally used when the card reader cannot identify voters is done away with permanently. So right now if the PVC does not belong to you or you don’t have one, you will not be able to vote on Election Day.

By this, it shows that it will be difficult for any form of malpractice to take place because it is only those who are accredited will be issued ballot papers to cast their votes. It shows that the issue of malpractice we used to know will be a thing of the past now.

2023 elections will be unique

He expressed confidence that the  2023 election would be different. “We have a new electoral law. It is going to guide the 2023 election. And you know electronic transmission of results now is easier and the use of electronic devices for accreditation is also easier.

The accreditation system take two forms. It is either your fingerprint or your face before they will allow you to get a ballot paper to cast your vote. So with that, those who are not in the register  or impersonators will not be able to participate in the system. It will curb most of the excesses on void votes to be counted.”

He declared that “faith-based organizations are part of our stakeholders so in everything we do we do carry them along. As desk officers for civil society organizations, we have been reaching out to churches and other organizations within the church to let them know this is what we are doing so everything that comes up in the electoral process we pass the information to them. So, a faith-based organizations can also apply to monitor elections. Once you apply and have a registered organization INEC will consider it.”

Role of faith organisations crucial

He said religious organisations are expected to play significant roles in the electioneering process.  “Now that the church is waking up and with what ‘Church Arise’ is doing we believe that a lot of improvement has come to the church.

“Ever since this registration commence people’s response is very encouraging because initially people walked down to the INEC office but now we have reduced the time and the stress that people passed through because you can go online to dedicate your time and you will be attended to. So people are happy about the process, especially for busy people.”

The President of Catholic Action-Nigeria (CA-N), Lagos Archdiocese, Sir Nosa Echigiator also charged the church to be politically active.

“We have been pretending to be sleeping and left our affairs in the hands of those who cannot even be our clerk to rule us. We allowed touts ( Agberos) to be the chairmen of local governments or become governor of our state and they will be telling us our right and at the end of the day we will be saying politics is a dirty game.

“Why these things are happening is because you refused to come out to say this is how it should be. We leave it in the hands of the average individual. If you look very well you will find out that most of the people that are in the helms of affairs today are the mediocre students who will even copy us to get third class, sometimes, ordinary pass.

“But with your first class, you are still looking for a job because you allowed people who don’t have reasoning faculty to rule even their homes to manage our entire lives. That is the bane of our problems in Nigeria. Until we wake up and begin to take our destiny into our hands it will remain like this. We have over five million catholic members in Lagos, if they can come out to vote we can determine who become chairman, governor, and all the elected post. We have this power if we can use it. But we end up complaining. But you allowed this to be happening to us.”

He said further,  “By having our PVC we have this small window to do the needful. Like my mother used to tell me, if you want to build a house the very first thing is to buy land, you don’t build houses in the sky. In the same way, if you want to win an election and you want your voice to be heard the first place to start is to register and have a voter’s card and the second most important thing is to go out on the day of the election to vote.

“We are the majority just that we felt it is not necessary, it is not important, we say is very rough. Now it has brought us to where we are and let me tell you it will take us another 15 to 20 years to normalize Nigeria that is if you people wake up now and start to take a position.

“But if you want to remain like this don’t vote. We have had enough of this; it is time to take action. Let us stand up and sensitize our people to register and have their voter cards. That is our weapon. Even if you are not interested in any political office we can use the voter’s card to determine what we want.”

Observing that Christians are the solution to some problems in Nigeria, he declared,“Those of us sitting down here today have the power to change the cause of history. We all know the power of Catholic Church globally. A lot of us may not realize that. Apart from being the richest church in the whole world, the Catholic Church has influential power in different nations.

“So, somehow in Nigeria that has not been the case. In the US today Christian community has so much sensitized their people that they are the ones determining what happens. Thank God for the Catholic Church in Nigeria that is taking this step now. Don’t take what we learned here today lightly. Let us all learn and impact others.”

The education must continue

In his remark, the founder of Church Arise, Uche Aso maintained that, “it is not easy to gather people together without money or resources to mobilize them, it is simply because what these people are expecting and the service Church Arise has to offer aligns. They are people who are yearning for a better society. They want a safe country concerning the rife of insecurity.”

He said Church Arise would continue to educate people on the electioneering process.

He thanked  INEC for being available to educate people while also expressing hope that the 2023 elections will be better compared to previous ones.

The one-day workshop was a Church Arise project. It was done in collaboration with Catholic Action of Nigeria (CA-N) and Justice, Development and Peace Centre (JDPC), both organs of the Catholic Church.

Prominent among the attendees were; Father Raymond Anoliefo, Director (JDPC), Lagos, Ndiche Felix, Coordinator (JDPC), from Our Lady Mother and Queen Catholic Church, Badore, Ajah, Lagos, Amarachukwu Odiachi, Secratary (CA-N), Lagos Archdiocese.

Others are Edith Ikeocha, Admin Officer (Church Arise), Abimbola Ashade, Communication Officer (Church Arise), and Chijoke Ezugwu, Assistant PRO (CA-N), Lagos Archdiocese among others.

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