By Ade Olu
The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC to end the continuous voter registration on July 31st has been attracting mixed reactions across the country.
While some saw reasons with INEC on the need to stop the exercise to be able to prepare for other activities ahead of the 2023 general election, many of those against it argued that the Election Management Body has no right under the law to stop the registration six months away from the election, especially when thousands of eligible citizens have yet to register.
Commenting on the development in a telephone interview, a Political Affairs Commentator in Anambra State, Chief Chidozie Ezeugwa, faulted the grounds for INEC’s decision, insisting that the Electoral Act stipulates ninety days to election to stop voter registration.
“I listened to the National Commissioner in charge of voter registration trying to justify it. But, for me, their reasons are not tenable enough. If I can go the bank today and collect my ATM card instantly, why is it that INEC needs months to print voter’s cards?. The ninety days stipulated by the Electoral Act should be by October ending not July”.
“Several thousands, who besiege the registration centres could not do so before July 31st. It was either insufficient number of machines, malfunctioning equipment or inadequate number of personnel. INEC’s lamentation about last minute rush by Nigerians is not tenable. Why will they disenfranchise eligible Nigerians,” he queried.
Chief Ezeugwa described INEC’s stance as suspicious and lauded the decision by some concerned Nigerians to take the matter to court.
“You cannot do that and expect everyone to keep silent because the people are the owners of democracy. Already, some Nigerians have decided to go to court to challenge INEC’s decision. Even the High Court judgment, on which INEC premised its decision, had been appealed against. We wait eagerly for the outcome of those suits. But, I see a possibility of INEC resuming the exercise again, if the court so orders”
The Political Analyst called on INEC to prepare adequately for the general election as failure will be viewed seriously by Nigerians especially youth, who have demonstrated uncommon interest in the electioneering process.
“INEC must be at their best for the election. They should make every necessary arrangement. Nigerians will not entertain malfunctioning equipment, especially the BVAS. You can see the interest demonstrated so far is unprecedented. You can be sure that such interest will manifest during the elections. The country must get it right this time around,” he concluded.