The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says no fewer than 3.63 million new voters have been registered in ongoing Continuous Voter Registration across the country.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made this known at a retreat for Resident Electoral Commissioners in Uyo on Friday.
Yakubu said that the voter registration would continue until 60 days to the 2019 general elections.
He said that the retreat was organised to acquaint the newly-appointed RECs with the commission’s activities.
According to him, the retreat will fine tune ways of improving the management and conduct of ongoing continuous voter registration.
“For the first time in the history of INEC, citizens who have attained the voting age of 18 years and those who could not register during the previous CVR, now have the opportunity to do so.
“So far, 3, 630, 529 new voters have been registered,’’ Yakubu said.
Yakubu said that the commission had received over 120 applications from political associations seeking registration as political parties, adding that 46 registered political parties were currently existing in the country.
He urged the RECs to work in synergy with INEC headquarters, zonal, state and local government office to achieve success.
“This coordination and synergy must be sustained through increased lateral and horizontal intra and inter department communication.
“Every department, every unit and all personnel have an important role to play in the conduct of election,’’ he said.
On card readers, Yakubu said that technical reports from more recent elections indicated that the incidents of card reader malfunction had been low.
He stated that during the last Anambra governorship election, there were reported cases of outright malfunction of card readers in 106 polling units and voting points.
According to him, the figure represents 1.8 per cent of the total card readers deployed to each of the 5,339 polling units and voting points across the 21 local government areas of the state.
The INEC chairman assured that the commission would introduce imaginative approaches to address the special needs of marginalised and special groups of voters in 2019.
He noted that one persistent challenge facing the commission had been low level of voter turnout in recent elections.
He said, “We must redesign and develop more effective voter education strategies and platforms while we continue to work with other stakeholders to galvanise voters to come out and vote.”
Yakubu urged the electoral commissioners to remain independent umpires, impartial and firm followers of operational procedures established by the commission at all times.
Earlier in his welcome address, the REC in Akwa Ibom, Mr Mike Igini, said that the retreat came after a successful conduct of election in Anambra.
He urged the commission to address the issue of low level of women participation in Nigerian politics.
He commended the development partners, especially the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for their continuous support to the commission.
In his goodwill message, Country Director of UNDP in Nigeria, Dr Samuel Bwalya, said that INEC had become a pace setter in elections management in West African sub region.
He urged the commission to address the issues of violence, poor internal democracy in political parties, low levels of accountability and transparency within political institutions.
The director, who was represented by Mr Kehinde Bolaji, Team Leader, Governance and Peace-building, added that the challenges could derail progress towards attaining long-lasting democratic governance.
He said that UNDP would continue to support the country in deepening democracy, peace and sustainable human development.
The theme of the two-day retreat is “Political and Institutional Context for Conduct of Free, Fair and Credible Elections.”