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83m to vote in 2019 — INEC chair

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has said Nigeria may have about 83 million voters after the register has been cleaned up.

Prof. Yakubu said this while responding to a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by Gen. Francis Behanzin, which was on a courtesy visit to the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

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Yakubu informed the delegation that over 14.5 million voters were registered during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise between April, 2017, and August, 2018.

He said the new figure would be added to the almost 70 million citizens already in the national voter register after due process.

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Prof. Yakubu, who said conducting general elections in Nigeria could be likened to conducting an election for the whole of ECOWAS, informed the delegation that Nigeria currently had 91 registered political parties, out of which 89 would field candidates for various positions in next year’s general elections.

The INEC chairman, who spoke on the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), said Nigeria had fulfilled its promises to the body since his election as its president in Cotonu, Benin Republic, in March, 2017.

He identified finance as the major challenge facing ECONEC. While each member country is expected to pay $5,000 per annum, he was of the opinion that ECONEC would still require some support from ECOWAS.

He said he learnt that ECOWAS had promised to support ECONEC with $1m and expressed hope that with the general’s visit, the account of ECONEC would be credited within a short time.

Earlier, Gen. Behanzin voiced gratitude to the INEC chairman for his contribution to the improvement of the electoral process and sustenance of democracy across West Africa.

Gen. Behanzin said the purpose of the visit was to, among other things, find out about INEC’s preparation for the 2019 general elections and the challenges it was facing in view of Nigeria’s large voter population of over 80 million.

He described Nigeria as “a very big country”, pledging financial support for the conduct of the elections. He also informed the INEC chairman that ECOWAS would send 200 observers for next year’s general elections.

 

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