Apparently bowing to pressure, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday announced an indefinite extension of the ongoing voters’ registration exercise.
With this indefinite extension, eligible Nigerians who have been struggling to meet the initial June 30 deadline for registration, will now experience relief.
The electoral umpire has also promised to issue Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to all registered voters by October just as it also pledged that the forthcoming governorship election in Osun State would be better than the just-concluded governorship election in Ekiti State.
This is coming as the European Union (EU) urged Nigerians not to sell their votes, stressing that vote-selling amounted to selling their future and enhancing bad governance.
Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at the closing ceremony of the musical concert mobilised to sensitise eligible voters ahead of the general election.
He also pledged that votes would count in the 2023 general election while urging voters not to sell their votes.
“I assure you that the voters’ registration exercise will not end on June 30 as earlier proposed.
It will continue till prospective voters register.
“We will continue to register all who come out to register and ensure that all that are eligible get registered,” Yakubu explained.
Speaking on the issuance of Permanent Voter Card (PVC), the INEC chairman said: “All of you that registered within this period will get their PVC by October this year.”
He announced that between Monday to Friday when the musical concert started, 14,000 voters registered at Area 10 Old Parade Ground in Abuja.
He promised that more voting machines would be deployed to areas of need, while additional 50 voting machines would be made available to the Area 10 Old Parade Ground to ensure the registration of more voters.
“We will not stop the registration exercise until eligible voters are registered,” he added.
The INEC chairman cautioned against the use of PVC as a source of identity among Nigerians, stating that it is mainly meant for election and voting.
Speaking on subsequent elections, Yakubu said: “If you think that the Ekiti governorship election is good, I assure you that the coming governorship election in Osun State will be better and the 2023 general election will be the best “.
He, however, called on the youths and other voters not to sell their votes and be peaceful in all elections, while pledging that he would ensure that their votes count in all elections.
In her speech, the European Union Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuella Isope, urged Nigerians not to sell their votes.
She argued that vote-selling amounts to modern enslavement and selling the future of the unborn generation.
She decried the growing youths’ apathy to elections in Nigeria.
“Since 2015 to 2019, the participation of youths in elections has been declining, but I hope that with what is happening here now, it will change the face of youths in future elections in Nigeria,” she added.
The EU Ambassador urged the Nigerian youths not to sell their votes, saying, “don’t allow anyone to steal your future because that is what vote-buying represents. Vote to get a better future for yourselves and your country,” she said.
She commanded INEC and Yiaga Africa for their efforts in encouraging more eligible Nigerians to register in the ongoing voter registration exercise.
The musical concert witnessed a mass turnout that created heavy traffic between the Area 10 Function, International Conference Centre and the Navy and Popular Radio House.
Many young musicians, including 2face and others performed at the concert.
Chuks Okocha in Abuja