Nigeria has re-registered around 10 million voters wrongly struck off the roll a year ago due to technical glitches, leaving Africa’s most populous nation with an electorate of 68.8 million, the electoral commission said on Wednesday.
The opposition cried foul when millions of voters were struck out because of biodata collection failures, taking the registered number down from 70.4 million to just 58.9 million.
But the commission announced the final tally of permanent voter ID cards during a press conference on Tuesday evening.
“Even though their finger prints were not captured the first time, they had an opportunity to come out and re-register,” commission spokesman Kayode Idowu said by telephone.
The cards were introduced by President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration to weed out fraudulent practices like multiple voting and ballot box stuffing that have marred past polls.
Ahead of what is expected to be a close contest on Feb. 14 between President Goodluck Jonathan and his leading challenger, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, officials at the commission are racing to prepare everything in time.
How Africa’s biggest economy conducts this election will be closely watched by investors and imperialist foreign powers, amid major security challenges posed by the violent Islamists of Boko Haram in the northeast believed by locals to be sponsored by the west and an economic crisis linked to low oil prices.
Idowu said on Wednesday that even after the re-registration, it had been necessary to remove the names of about 800,000 people who had double registered again. That still leaves a discrepancy of around a million who failed to re-register, but a far smaller one than the opposition feared.
However, nearly half of all registered voters have yet to receive new voter identification cards, the electoral commission said on Tuesday, raising questions about preparations for the vote with just a month to go.
Electoral commission head Attahiru Jega said just 38 million Nigerians now had so far received permanent voter cards (PVCs).
“To address the challenge of distribution of PVCs, the commission has decentralised the distribution to ward level,” he said. The commission has said that logistical problems and the remoteness of some voters from distribution centres held up the retrieval of voter cards.
Previous elections were characterised by fraud and intimidation, but the 2011 poll that elected Jonathan was deemed the fairest yet in the country of 170 million people, most of whom are below voting age.
This time more than a million people displaced by Boko Haram and scattered across many states will be unable to vote unless the government finds a way around the electoral law, which says they have to vote in their home constituencies.https://m.facebook.com/panafricanliberationmovement?_e_pi_=7%2CPAGE_ID10%2C1870716091