Yiaga Africa’s Watching the Vote (WTV) trained observers continued to observe the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise in 158 INEC registration centres across the six geo-political zones. This report includes the findings from the observer reports for the period of August 30 to September 10, 2021. Based on reports from its observers, Yiaga Africa WTV finds that the INEC registration officials have remained consistent with early deployment to registration centres and early commencement of the registration process. Most of the centres visited in weeks 6 and 7 of the exercise had remained open until the official closing hours. Registration materials were sufficiently deployed as observed in weeks 6 and 7, a significant improvement from weeks 5 & 6 where some registration centres ran out of materials on the days that WTV observers visited. WTV observed, however, that there were some challenges with the INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) which affected its functionality in some centres; the device did not function properly throughout the day as observed in some centres. Some registration officials allowed the registration of underaged voters and the collection of permanent voters cards (PVCs) by proxy. Observers also reported that registration officials are denying them important information on the process such as the number of collected PVCs and the number of registered voters in the centre. Registration officials should be encouraged to make this information public in order to increase transparency and confidence in the process. WTV observers have also documented poor deployment of security personnel and the non-deployment of political party agents to registration centres. For Anambra State, considering the upcoming November 6 governorship election the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) devolved the CVR exercise to the 326 wards in Anambra. The physical registration exercise was held in 348 centres across the state from Monday, 30 August to Sunday, September 05.
The decentralisation of the exercise to ward level helped in bringing the possess within close proximity with prospective voters and those who wish to transfer their registrations. The CVR exercise was suspended earlier in Anambra to enable the commission to clean up the data, compile the register and print out permanent voters’ cards, in compliance with section 9(5) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). The Electoral Act provides that voter registration shall stop no later than 60 days before an election. Consequently, upon the temporary suspension of the CVR exercise, INEC displayed the preliminary registration of voters in all the 326 wards in Anambra in September. This was intended to enable prospective voters to make verify their details and forward any complaints to either correct or delete voter registration data recorded about the voter. It is important to mention that the activities of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), their enablers and their supporters hampered the full deployment of the CVR exercise in Anambra. The Monday sit-at-home in the southeastern states affected the conduct of the voter registration in the last week of the decentralized CVR in Anambra State. More than half of the registration centres visited on Monday, August 30, did not open. Since the commencement of the exercise, Anambra state had missed out on the exercise for 5 consecutive Mondays. While we commend INEC for deepening the deployment of technologies in our election, the commission must address the lingering concern relating to pre-in-person registration requirements.
It is our considered opinion that registration officials insisting that voters must complete the online pre-registration before being attended to for the physical registration could discourage participation. The findings in this reporting period are based on reports from Yiaga Africa WTV observers reporting from 131 INEC registrations centres across Adamawa, Plateau, Kano, Rivers, Lagos & FCT.