As the June 30, 2022 deadline for the continuous voters’ registration (CVR) draws near, a consortium of civil society organisations (CSOs) has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to develop interpersonal communication channels and enhance technology deployment to engage Nigerians with information around the CVR.
The group made this call during the recent ‘YVote Naija’ press conference held in Abuja on enhancing civic participation in the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
The consortium is made up of Brain Builders Youth Development (BBYD) Initiative, Connected Development (CODE), Raising New Voices, Webfala Digital Skills For All Initiative, Building Block for Peace Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Aspillos Foundation and SING Nigeria.
Addressing journalists, the executive director, BBYD, Olasupo Abideen, reemphasized why the INEC needs to engage Nigerians – especially citizens whose registration has been flagged invalid – while providing time for affected citizens to review and update their registration.
Also, he underscored the need for the commission to generally improve its technology deployment to harness its optimum utility ahead of the general elections in 2023.
“We have witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number of Nigerians coming to get registered. Given that we have barely three weeks, we welcome the news that INEC is considering extending the deadline for the registration. We add our voices to the call for the extension of the deadline and also hope that the extension will be accompanied by the decision to decentralise the registration exercise to the WARD level and extension of the registration days to the weekends,” he said.
Olasupo emphasised the importance of Nigerians getting registered and collecting their permanent voter’s cards (PVCs) within the appropriate timeframe to enable them to have a say in the people [that govern] and policies [they make].
“We strongly urge that citizens use all available means to ensure they are fully registered and, for those already registered, to ensure they collect their PVCs if and when available. We also call on citizens to sustain the level of interest and participation beyond the CVR exercise to all other activities in the electoral process ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Missing out or non-participation in any of these activities is not just a disservice to self but to generations unborn. However, this can only be possible by first making sure we participate in the ongoing CVR process,” he stressed.
He added that it is also imperative to remind Nigerians that the ongoing CVR is not just for citizens who have just turned 18 or have never registered.
“The process is also a platform for citizens to transfer their registration from one location to a preferable one while enabling registered voters to apply for a replacement for damaged or lost PVCs.”
The BBYD boss recommended that various initiatives to mobilise Nigerians of voting age to get registered to vote must be sustained beyond the CVR process, to ensure people also collect their PVCs and come out to vote during elections.
Also, he called on the Federal Government to declare a public holiday as a ‘National Day of Action’ to encourage people to get registered. He urged private organisations to give days off to employees to find time and register or even facilitate their logistics from the office to the nearest registration centres.
Olasupo announced the BBYD’s #ShowyourPVC innovative social media campaign primarily for young people, where registered voters will be required to post a picture or video of themselves holding their PVC while challenging their peers to do the same.
He added that participants in this contest stand a chance to win great prizes (including smartphones) and stressed that the challenge aims to encourage peer-to-peer voter mobilisation by deploying social media platforms at the twilight of the CVR process.
He also announced that applications for the YVote Naija CivicTech Hackathon 2022 ($5000 Grant) (universegist.com) were now open.
The YVoteNaija is an initiative of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative which aims at increasing voters’ education, while the hackathon is also a BBYD initiative supported by Christian Aid Nigeria to identify civic tech solutions to enhance citizen participation in the electoral process in Nigeria. Young social innovators and developers in Nigeria between the ages of 15 and 35 are encouraged to apply.