The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has formally launched the nationwide voter registration exercise.
The exercise is designed to enable Nigerians who have clocked 18 years after the 2015 general elections to register and participate in future elections.
Other Nigerians, who are older than 18 years but have no voter cards, are also qualified to participate in the programme.
Yakubu, who signalled off the exercise in Abuja on Thursday, warned politicians not to hijack the process of Continuous Voter Registration holding in the country’s 774 local government areas.
He kicked off the programme at the Abuja Municipal Area Council office of INEC at Karu.
The INEC boss noted that the exercise is only meant for those who have not registered before, those who have just reached the voting age of 18, as well as Nigerians who have changed their residency and those who had earlier registered but could not have their names on the record.
He described the process as part of the commission’s efforts to the consolidation of the nation’s democracy, adding that the process would strive to put together the full biometric register of voters ahead of the 2019 elections.
Earlier, AMAC Chairman, Abdulahi Candido, urged INEC to extend the exercise to the hinterlands to enable more Nigerians to register.
In Rivers State, INEC also began the continuous voter registration in Port Harcourt City Local Government Area.
In her address at the event, INEC National Commissioner for South-South Zone, Mrs. May Agbamuche-Mbu, said that the exercise is designed to register eligible voters who could have reached voting age of 18 years and those who could not register previously.
She said that INEC is mandated under Section 10 of the Electoral Act 2010 to update the voter register and make it available to every political party within 60 days after the year of registration.
Agbamuche-Mbu stated that the exercise will start from Monday till the conduct of the general elections in 2019.
In his remark, the Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Elder Aniedi Ikoiwak, said that the exercise will be handled by permanent members of staff of INEC.
In a statement at the Government House, Port Harcourt, the Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry Banigo, urged the people of Degema Local Government Area and Rivers West Senatorial District to come out en-masse and register during the exercise.
She enjoined traditional rulers, politicians and other stakeholders in the state to mobilise their subjects who are 18 years and above to embrace the exercise.
Banigo also urged INEC to ensure that it provides the materials and logistics needed for a hitch-free registration exercise in the state.
And in Kebbi State, INEC held a stakeholders’ meeting with representatives of political parties to set agenda for the commencement of the voter registration.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting, the Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Bello Magaji Isah, said that part of INEC’s arrangement was the recruitment and training of 150 members of staff, deployment of equipment and materials to the councils and upgrading of Direct Data Capture (DCC) machines among others.
He said that the exercise is basically for fresh registration of eligible voters, transfer of voters and distribution of permanent voter cards.