The Coalition for Peter Obi, a group backing the former Anambra governor for president, says the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should extend the deadline for voter registration.
The electoral commission had fixed June 30 as the deadline for voter registration, but said it may announce an extension soon.
In a letter dated June 16 and addressed to Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, Marcel Ngogbehei, CPO chairman, said by extending the deadline and expanding registration, 16 million people will not be disenfranchised in the 2023 polls.
Ngogbehei said INEC lacks capacity to service “the voting population especially in high demand areas owing to inadequate infrastructure including limited numbers of registration machines resulting in a slow pace of registration in many centers”.
“From statistical analysis, the Nigerian population is estimated at 216 million as at June 2022 according to data from the Worldbank, with a median age of 18.1 years. That means half of the population of Nigeria or 108 million are above 18 years and eligible to vote,” he said.
“INEC’s current voters register estimates Nigeria’s voting population at 84 million, so INEC is expected to capture at least 20 million additional Nigerian voters in this exercise, but the electoral body has completed barely 4 million applications as of March 2022 from information available on its website.
“This means that a whopping 16 million Nigerians are likely to be disenfranchised. This is not good for our democracy.
“In view of the present troubling circumstances, we recommend that INEC urgently embark on expansion of its voter registration and validation infrastructure to serve the teeming numbers of Nigerians who wish to exercise their patriotic and civic duties of voting in the forthcoming general elections.
“It has therefore become very obvious that no matter the number of years of extension of the current exercise, it will be a total waste of the nation’s manpower if the infrastructure is not immediately expanded to cover areas of high demand – which currently is the south.
“This makes sense because INEC’s data shows that most citizens in the North have been captured. Many Nigerians from the Middle and southern parts of the country will at the end of the day be denied their universal adult suffrage.”
The CPO chairman said his group is available to provide “non-interfering” support to INEC to see that every citizen who presents himself or herself for registration is registered.