CENTRE FOR CIVIC EDUCATION
(a.k.a Transition Monitoring Group)
‘A Coalition of Human Rights & Civil Society Organizations’
A Communiqué Issued at the end of a One-Day National Stakeholders Conference on Status of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) by Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at Rockview Hotel (Royale), Wuse II Abuja
Preamble As part of the on-going efforts to reform Nigeria’s electoral processes and institutions ahead of the 2015 general elections, the Transition Monitory Group ( TMG ) organized a one-day ‘National Stakeholders conference on the Status of the Continuous Voter Registration’ at Rockview Hotel (Royale), Wuse II, Abuja. The conference was supported by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Over 200 participants drawn from the international community, Faith Based Organizations, Women and Youth Groups, Media, Political Parties, People with Disabilities (PWDs) Security Agencies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) attended the event. Amongst the participants were representatives of European Union (EU), UK Department for International Development (UKAID), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Konrad–Adenauer Stiftung, MacArthur Foundation and Frederick Ebert Stiftung (FEF)
Dignitaries that graced the conference includes representative of the INEC Chair, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Hajia Amina B. Zakari, INEC National Commissioner in charge of Political Party Monitoring, Dr. Hussani Abdu, Country Director of Actionaid, Nigeria who also made a key note presentation on ‘continuous voter registration (CVR) vis-à-vis the place of citizen in the democratic process’, while Catherine Weiss, representative of DFID presented goodwill message on behalf of the Joint Donor Basket Fund (JDBF). Other dignitaries at the conference are Dr. Moutarda Deme (Project Director UNDP/DGD), representative of the European Delegation, Ms Laolu Olawumi, Mr. Edetean Ojo (Executive Director Media Right Agenda), and Mr. Festus Okoye (Human Rights Monitor).
Participants extensively discussed the implications of going into the 2015 elections with the integrity of Voters Register in doubt. They also made specific recommendations to strengthen the electoral process and help make the 2015 general elections a significant improvement over the elections of 2011 and the staggered governorship elections that followed.
Participants commended the organizers for the timeliness of the National Stakeholders Conference on CVR, noting that an opportunity still exists for INEC to carry out nationwide voters’ audit as well as continuous voter registration ahead of 2015 general election. They commended INEC for the timely release of the 2015 general election time-table to enable stakeholders prepare well for the election.
Participants made the following observations:
The success or otherwise of elections hinges largely on the integrity of the voters register ahead of elections in Nigeria
There are still concerns with the legal and administrative frameworks for the conduct of elections in Nigeria.
Since 1998, Nigerians have not voted with permanent voters’ card.
It is apparent from INEC’s proposition that the CVR exercise is going to be seasonal voter registration rather than being continuous as prescribed by law.
The timeframe of the CVR exercise should be flexible enough for people to register with ease.
Political parties need to put up a serious enlightenment programmes on the CVR by making sure that members are aware of the exercise.
After exhaustive deliberations, participants made the following recommendations:
Election stakeholders’ including members of the National and State Assemblies and Executives adopt, pass and assent to the recommendations contained in the electoral reform proposals presented to the National Assembly.
There should be effective engagement between INEC and other critical stakeholders, including political parties, media and civil society organizations, in order to build synergies that strengthen Nigeria’s electoral processes.
That a strong enforcement mechanism be put in place to ensure that all the stakeholders in the electoral process who do not play by the rule are sufficiently sanctioned.
There is need for INEC to consider engaging services of volunteers who must be subjected to proper scrutiny before their involvement in the process. There is need for INEC and relevant stakeholders to undertake extensive and continuous civic/voter education initiatives to deepen the understanding of electoral process, rights and obligation of the electorate.
That more wards/registration units are created due to the growing population in most wards.
Need for transparency on the access to the voter list in every polling unit in the nation by all stakeholders.
INEC should conduct periodic review of voters register on specific dates of the month at the LGA headquarters in collaboration with National Population Commission, National Identity Management Commission and Security Agencies.
INEC should provide clarifications on its communication strategies ahead of 2015 election.
INEC should create possibility for remote access to the voter register.
It is necessary for peoples with disabilities (PWDs) – friendly items to go into registration forms of voters.
TMG should establish a civic institute for the training of persons interested in conducting civic education at the grassroots.
Finally, TMG and the stakeholders constituted a Continuous Voter Registration Implementation Monitoring Committee and also appreciate the financial support given by the Democratic Governance for Democracy (DGD) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
ALL Stakeholders in attendance