By Sagiru Ado Abubakar.
In its effort to improve access to electoral participation and decision-making society especially in local societies where people with disability, women and youth are still denial access to electoral process, the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) on 5th July, 2017 has organized Mobilization Meeting on Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for the 18 SCEEP Communities in Kano State. The Mobilization Meeting aimed to reduce level of marginalization of people with disabilities, women and youth in the electoral process that resulted in very low-level of participation of these groups in voting and their inputs in decision-making organs of the society both appointive and elective. On 27th April, 2017 the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) commenced the year round nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) across the country. Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) is an exercise meant for the registration of citizens who turned 18 years of age after the last registration exercise; or those who for one reason or another could not register in the previous exercises.
In his opening remarks, Ahmad Abdullahi Yakasai said that, the Mobilization Meeting was organized to mobilize participants from SCEEP Communities in Kano State to embark on house to house campaign on Continuous Voter Registration Exercise in their respective communities. He explained that the meeting was part of activities of the project CITAD has been implementing since 2015 titled ‘Strengthening Civic Engagement with the Electoral Process (SCEEP)’ with support from Department for International Development (DFID) through ActionAid Nigeria. He regretted that from preliminary reports CITAD gathered, still now people are not patronizing the registration centers.
Hajiya Suwaiba Adamu Salihu, Senior Program Officer, National Orientation Agency (NOA) made paper presentation on Importance of the Continuous Voter Registration. In her presentation, she said that the CVR will enable citizens who have turned 18 years of age since the last registration as well as those who did not register during the last exercise in 2014 to register as voters. It also allows those seeking transfer of their registration centers from one state to another or within a state from one polling unit to another to do so. Also, the registration will enable citizens who have their temporary voter cards (TVCs) and whose names are on the register to collect their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and to attend to other complains on PVCs (e.g. loss or damage of voter cards, for correction on cards, etc). Lastly, she expressed her gratitude to CITAD on this effort which she said is a complement of their work in the state.
Malam Bala Ibrahim Shittu, Administrative Secretary, Independent National Electoral Commission, Kano office, made the second presentation on the Process of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR). Malam Bala talked about the legal frame work for the conduct of Continuous Voter Registration, which he said that is located in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) that empowers the Independent National Electoral Commission to conduct registration of persons qualified to vote and to prepare, maintain and revise the register of voters. He then said that the current CVR is being implemented in phases on quarterly basis. 1st phase is from 27th April to 25th July, 2017. Thereafter, display for claims and objection will take place. The second quarter begins subsequently for another three months. That is to say is a continuous exercise unlike the previous ones that usually last for 2 weeks or at most a month. This gives a wider opportunity for many to be registered, he explained.
Alh. Garba Lawan Muhammad, INEC, Public Relation Officer (PRO), Kano Office, listed the criteria for those that are eligible to register. He said that person must be a citizen of Nigeria, must have attained the age of 18 years on or before the registration day, 18 years or above but could not register during the last registration exercise, person must be resident, works in or originate from the local government area or ward covered by the Registration Area Center and must present himself/herself to the officers for registration and able to provide proof of identity, age and nationality if requested. Other criteria he said person has PVC or TVC but the name is not on the register of voters, or person has registered before but his/hername/photograph/finger print were not captured, such person must provide his/her temporary voter card. He then urged the participants to do whatever possible to mobilize more people to register in their respective communities. He said that one of the responsibilities of INEC is to mobilize people to register but INEC do not have enough personnel that can go round everywhere in the country to do that. He gave INEC hotline as 09067090909 that the participants can call on any issue related to CVR whenever need arises during their mobilization effort. Finally, he listed ten additional CVR centers that have been designated by the commission in Kano State. He said that this brings the total number of the centers in the state to 54.
During general comments, questions and observations, Malam Haruna Muhammad Inuwa, a disabled person from Dakata community in Nassarawa local government expressed his worry over the difficulties disabled people have been coming across during the CVR. Malam Mukhtar Zaitawa appealed to NOA to multiply its effort in order to mobilize more people to register. He observed that he did not hear any announcement from NOA over the radio or by using town criers on the issue of CVR. Malama Aisha Garba from Zinyau Community, Rano local government tasked INEC to improve security measures around the registration areas; she said that doing this will allow more women to register especially in the local communities. Both INEC representatives and the representative from NOA shed light on the above mentioned claims. At the close of the meeting INEC officials presented some publications to CITAD on election related issues.
The mobilization Meeting took place at NSITF Hall, and attended by 36 participants from 18 SCEEP communities in Kabo, Karaye, Gaya, Rano, Nassarawa and Kano Municipal local governments.