INEC Online Registration: Where are the Northern voters?

INEC, under the able leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has undergone tremendous development, with a great deal of digitisation of its processes, making it more efficient, in terms of service delivery. On the 27th of March, 2021, in my article titled, “INEC: Yakub’s timely drive for increase in polling units”, I had highlighted that, “INEC had shown a great deal of reinvention and automation; embracing the optimisation of processes in an IT driven era of the 21st century. In the off-season polls in Ondo state, we witnessed the deployment of Z-pads, by which electoral officers keyed in data from their respective polling units, onto an INEC portal, where we viewed the results in real-time on the commission’s website as voting progressed. This of course eliminates the manipulation of result sheets, and provides for the authentication of collated data directly from the polling units. The incidences of theft of results, while being transferred to collation centres is also eliminated.” 

          Today, INEC has been able to increase the number of polling units by 56, 872; making a total of 176, 846 polling units, a feat that had not been achieved in over 20 years! Another fine innovation of INEC is the online registration of voters. Voters can actually register online, where they can submit their data and their passport. An appointment would be given to them at at a later date in their respective local governments for data verification. The online feature also allows for transfer of polling units, where a voter can apply for a change of his polling unit. For example if a voter used to cast his vote in Billiri local government of Gombe state, and he now wants to cast his vote in AMAC at Abuja, he can apply to have his voting location changed. The verification is done at his new preferred location. The entire voter registration exercise is to last a whole year, which gives ample time for everyone that is yet to register. The online version makes it easy for one to log onto the exercise, after which he/ she can later on go for a verification of the submitted data. 

        The online exercise has kick-started in virtually all the states of the federation, with Osun leading the pack with 67,772 registered online. Lagos follows closely with 30,338. Ogun state comes in with a figure of about 8,886. We also have Oyo with 7,143 and Edo with 7,666. Anambra state has 6,313, while Bayelsa state has about 4,901. Delta state has also recorded 4,303. Rivers has 3,448 while Akwa Ibom has 3,632. FCT as the Federal Capital has an impressive 12,160. Of all the states in the North, with its very high voting figures, only Kaduna has had up to 3,787 online registrations. This is followed by Kano with a mere 2,988. Niger state recorded 2,402 while Sokoto has 1,069. States like Zamfara and Kebbi have as low as 825 and 624 respectively. 

           From the figures obtained from the online registration exercise, it shows a stark difference between the response from the states in the North, as against those in the South. Just 2 states in the South account for the total number of online registrations in the entire northern states, minus the FCT as a Federal Capital. Ordinarily you have more voters in the North than in the South because the Northern population is higher than the southern population. Here now is a contradiction, whereby figures in the South outnumber the figures from the North. What could be the explanation? Is there some development of voter apathy in the North? Is it because of the fact that it is online and the Southern populace are more attuned to the online exercise than their Northern counterparts? 

             INEC would have definitely done its rigorous campaigns across the country, about the entire voter registration/ updating exercise, along with the online version of the exercise; which evidently explains the turnout in some states. Political parties, political groups, Northern elders fora, youth groups and perhaps Northern state governors, must indulge themselves to participate in a sensitisation drive, that would encourage the Northern population, to come out and register in the exercise, for those who haven’t, or those who want to transfer their polling units. The exercise has been a success overall, with about 175,000 youths between the ages of 18 and 34, registering online. In terms of gender, we have about 166,712 males registered online, while the female gender has about 93,001. Artisans and businessmen have not been left out of the exercise. We have over 15,000 artisans registered online, with no less than 44,478 businessmen registered online as well. Civil servants have also not been left out of the exercise, registering over 11,000. There is also a high turn out of students in the online exercise, with about 69, 146. 

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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