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80 million Nigerians to vote in 2019 – INEC

The Independent National Electoral Commission says there will be at least 80 million registered voters in Nigeria by 2019.

The INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, said this in Abuja on Saturday when the European Union Electoral groups Follow-up Mission to Nigeria, Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders compared notes with INEC at a round-table discussion organised by the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and West Africa.

Yakubu, who also spoke on the Continuous Voter Registration, said, “The credibility of elections depends on the credibility of the voter register. We are now doing it continuously. We have seen some challenges and we are responding to them.

“We started in April and as of last week, we have registered 3.2 million (Nigerians) on top of the 70 million registered voters for the 2015 general elections that we had before. Our projection is that the voter register will probably be over 80 million by 2019.”

Yakubu, however, revealed that about eight million Permanent Voter Cards had yet to be collected by their owners.

He said, “We haven’t made much progress in the last two years (but) we have made elaborate arrangements with the states to ensure that the cards are collected.”

Giving a summary of the commission’s preparations towards the 2019 general elections, the INEC boss added that by next week, the commission would come up with a figure of what it would cost the nation to conduct the 2019 general elections.

He added that the electoral body had conducted 172 elections since 2015.

On the Anambra governorship election coming up on November 18, he said, “We are combining the governorship election with the Idemili North state constituency election. There will be two ballot boxes and voters will receive two ballot papers.

“All the other arrangements – logistics, staff training, and security – are in place. We are killing two birds with one stone. And for the first time in the history of elections in Nigeria, 37 political parties are contesting in the Anambra election.

“Out of the 14 activities lined up, we have executed nine. We are determined as a commission to make the 2019 general elections better than 2015.”

On the disclosure of party finances, the INEC chairman distinguished between campaign and party finance.

He admitted that tracking party finances could be challenging,“but where a political party comes out openly to raise funds beyond the limits provided for in the constitution, the commission will apply sanctions.”

Meanwhile, the European Union has called on INEC to improve on identified areas of failure, including punishing campaign violations.

It also asked the agency to increase transparency in the publication of elections results and reinforce policies to better integrate women and youths into political life.

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