The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on Wednesday released the final list of voters that will cast their ballots in the elections.
With clear indications, the North-West and South-West have the lion’s share of the total 93.4 million eligible voters.
Presenting the voter register at a meeting with leaders of political parties at the INEC headquarters, Abuja, the commission’s Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the number of registered youths was 37,060,399.
In November 2022, the commission published the preliminary register of voters across the 774 local government areas on its website to enable eligible voters to confirm their details, as well as for Nigerians to report ineligible persons captured in the register.
Yakubu said the commission received more than 53,000 objections to the register, after which the ineligible voters were removed.
He stated, “After the cleaning-up of the data from the last continuous voter registration exercise, 9,518,188 new voters were added to the previous register, resulting in the preliminary register of 93,522,272, which was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections as required by law.
“At the end of the period for claims and objections by citizens, the commission received 53,264 objections from Nigerians to the prevalence of ineligible persons on the register by age, citizenship, or death. These names have been verified and removed from the register.”
According to the figures released by the commission, the North-West geopolitical zone has the highest number of registered voters with 22,255,562.
As of the 2019 elections, the North-West had 20.15m voters. However, the latest report released by INEC showed that over 2m new voters registered during the recently concluded continuous voter registration.
The South-West, which in 2019 had 16,292,212 registered voters, now has 17,958,966, having added 1,666,754 new registered voters.
The North-Central, which had 13,366,070 registered voters in 2019, now has 15,363,731.
The electoral body figures also show that the South-South has 14,440,714 registered voters. The region boasted 12,841,279 registered voters in 2019.
On the other hand, the North-East currently has 12,542,429 up from 11,289, 293 voters it had in 2019 while the South-East has 10,907,606 up from 10,057,130 registered voters it had in 2019.
By gender, men surprisingly dominate the voter register at 49,054,162 (52.5 per cent) while the figure of female voters stands at 44,414,846 (47.5 per cent).
Lagos, Kano lead
Further breakdown by states showed that Lagos has the highest number of registered voters with 7,060,195, followed by Kano with 5,921,370 and Kaduna, 4,335,208.
Others include Abia, 2,120,808; Adamawa, 2,196,566; Akwa-Ibom, 2,357,418; Anambra, 2,656,437; Bauchi, 2,749,268; Bayelsa, 1,056,862; Benue, 2,777,727; Borno, 2,513,281; Cross River 1,766,466; Delta, 3,221,697; Ebonyi, 1,597,646; Edo, 2,501,081; Ekiti, 987,647; Enugu, 2,112,793; FCT, 1,570,307; Gombe, 1,575,794 and Imo, 2,419,922.
Other states are Jigawa, 2,351,298; Katsina, 3,516,719; Kebbi, 2,032,041; Kogi, 1,932,654; Kwara 1,695,927; Nasarawa, 1,899,244; Niger, 2,698,344; Ogun, 2,688,305; Ondo, 1,991,344; Osun, 1,954,800; Oyo, 3,276,675; Plateau, 2,789,528; Rivers, 3,537,190; Sokoto, 2,172,056; Taraba, 2,022,374; Yobe,1,485,146; and Zamfara, 1,926,870.
For the age group, registered youths (18-34) were 37,060,399; Middle aged (35-49) 33,413,591; Elderly (50-69), 17,700,270; old (70+) 5,294,748.
The INEC chairman assured Nigerians that the commission was not contemplating postponing the general elections.
Yakubu also stated that the timetable for the election had not changed, assuring that the elections would hold as scheduled.
He stated, “Following the display of the voter register nationwide and the conclusion of claims and objections by citizens, a new national register of voters has been compiled.
“In short, at no time in the recent history of the commission has so much of the forward planning and implementation been accomplished 44 days ahead of a general election.
“Therefore, the commission is not contemplating any adjustment to the election timetable, let alone the postponement of the general elections.
For the avoidance of doubt, the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday 25th February 2023 while governorship and state assembly elections will hold two weeks later on Saturday, 11th March, 2023.
“The repeated assurance by the security agencies for the adequate protection of our personnel, materials and processes also reinforces our determination to proceed. The 2023 general elections will hold as scheduled. Any report to the contrary is not the official position of the commission.
“As a further affirmation of the commission’s readiness to conduct the 2023 general elections as scheduled, the final register of voters has been compiled. You would recall that for the 2019 general elections, Nigeria had a voter population of 84,004,084.
“After the cleaning-up of the data from the last continuous voter registration exercise (June 2021 – July 2022), 9,518,188 new voters were added to the previous register resulting in the preliminary register of 93,522,272, which was presented to Nigerians for claims and objections as required by law.
“Consequently, the register of voters for the 2023 general election stands at 93,469,008.’’
He said the soft copy of the complete register would be presented to each political party, adding that it was organised by state, local government, ward and polling units.
The soft copy of the breakdown and analysis would be uploaded to the INEC website and social media platforms shortly, Yakubu explained.
Assuring the nation of INEC’s readiness to conduct a transparent and credible exercise, he said, “I would like to reiterate our commitment to transparent, credible and inclusive 2023 general elections.
‘’We will continue to take every step to protect the sanctity of the votes cast by citizens and to deal with infractions, including the arrest and prosecution of persons that attempt to perpetuate illegality at polling units on election day, be they under-aged voters or vote buyers.”
Speaking on behalf of the political parties, the secretary, Inter-party Advisory Committee, Yusuf Dantalle, said the political parties had resolved to cooperate with the commission to ensure a smooth electoral process.
He added, “It is indeed a different election in the history of this country because of the new Electoral Act and if allowed, democracy will go far beyond what we had in the past. It is evident that the use of BVAS will discourage vote buying.
“We are equally appealing to political parties to see that power belongs to God and he will give it to whoever he pleases.”
Party leaders at the meeting include the National Secretary, All Progressives Congress, Iyiola Omisore; National Chairman, Labour Party; Julius Abure; Presidential candidate, Zenith Labour Party, Dan Nwanyanwu; National Chairman, Social Democratic Party, Shehu Gabam and the Presidential Candidate, Allied People’s Movement, Yusuf Dantalle.
Commenting on the register, the Chairman of the Transition Monitoring Group, Auwal Rafsanjani, said the numbers showed that women participation in politics had suffered a setback, attributing it to poor encouragement and the political violence in the country.
He added that without the participation of women at state and national levels, issues affecting the group would constantly be undermined,
“It clearly shows how women participation in Nigerian politics has continued to suffer a setback. This is because of the poor encouragement, and also the political violence that, you know, many women fear from participating even for registration. And, you know, unfortunately, political parties have not demonstrated, or have not worked to get female members in their party to participate in the registration, despite the effort of civil society to mobilise women to participate.
“Without women participation in politics at local, state and national levels, the women’s issue will continue to be undermined, and you know it is only when women participate, that they will be able to have the best solution to their concern. But also, our women must try as much as possible to participate where possible, where they are not in danger.
‘’I think it is important that we create a conducive atmosphere for women to participate in political development in this country. And the only way you can actually vote or be voted is when you are registered, and we need to continue to encourage women to participate.’’
Speaking shortly after the release of the list, Director General of the Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Osuntokun told one of our correspondents that the situation in the country probably informed the reasons more men than women came out during the continuous voter registration exercise.
“It may have to do with the worsening economic and security crises in the country. They (women) are more vulnerable to the deplorable status quo than their male counterparts,” Osuntokun said.
On his part, the APGA National Chairman, Victor Oye, said there was no way of knowing whether women were losing interest in the nation’s electioneering process, saying, “maybe we need to conduct a study to know why.”
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the New Nigerian People’s Party, Ahmed Alkali, has said the security threat to the forthcoming 2023 elections is real.
Alkali made the revelation on Wednesday while speaking to journalists at his party’s National Secretariat in Abuja.
However, he noted that the NNPP was convinced that INEC was fully prepared for the conduct of the general elections as scheduled.
Speaking on the alarm raised by a National Commissioner of INEC, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, on rising insecurity challenges which could undermine the conduct of the elections, Alkali said, “We’re aware that some foreign nations raised security alarms. We don’t know what they know, but they didn’t share what they know with the Federal Government; that of course was enough to raise tension.
“But they should also have announced their return the way they announced their exit. However, no matter the circumstances, there must be a new government in 2023. Therefore, both INEC and the leadership of political parties must work towards that.”
Also, INEC on Wednesday charged Nigerians to eschew violence and be peaceful during the forthcoming elections assuring that it would be unbiased and fair to all participating political parties at the polls.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in Kwara State, Mallam Attahiru Madami gave the charge in Ilorin, the state capital while speaking at the 2023 annual lecture of the National League of Veteran Journalists.