By Joy Odor
The Chairman, lndependent National Electroal Commission (INEC) Professor Mahmood Yakubu has presented 2022 Draft Revised Framework and Regulations for lnternally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to ensure that no eligible Nigerian is left out of the electoral process on account of displacement, disability or other circumstances that may limit citizens’ participation in the electoral process.
He made the draft presentation at the Stakeholders’ Validation Workshop for 2022 Revised Framework and Regulations for internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to him, the revised is for the increased number of IDPs as a result of widespread insecurity nationwide and to incorporate not only the displaced citizens arising from armed conflicts but also natural emergencies such as flooding.
Prof Yakubu noted that the reversed was to align the framework with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022, specifically Section 24(1) which empowers the Commission to ensure that, as far as practicable, no Nigerian is disenfranchised on account of displacement by emergency situations.
The INEC Boss said it is also to align the framework with the national policy on internally displaced persons 2021.
Prof Yakubu said he looked forward for the input of all stakeholders that
would enrich the framework as well as the regulations for voting by IDPs to enable them finalise the document ahead of the forthcoming 2023 General Election.
The INEC Chairman opined that “while we always appreciate our collaboration with all stakeholders, it has become necessary to make an important clarification in respect of a statement attributed to a section of the civil society organisations.
“At a media briefing yesterday, the Commission was accused of failure to display the voters’ register as provided by Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022. This claim is incorrect.
“What the Commission displayed for claims and objections in our Local Government Area offices nationwide for a period of one week, from 15th – 21st August 2022, was not the entire register of voters but the list of fresh registrants at the end of the Fourth and last quarter of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise covering the period from 11th April – 31st July 2022.
“This has been the practice for several years. Earlier, the Commission had displayed the register three times: 24th – 30th September 2021 (First Quarter), 24th – 30th December 2021 (Second Quarter) and 26th March – 1st April 2022 (Third Quarter).
“A comprehensive schedule of the CVR exercise and the display of the register was shared with stakeholders at our quarterly meeting just before the inception of the exercise in June last year.
“We wish to assure Nigerians that the Commission will display the comprehensive register in all the 8,809 Wards and 774 Local Government Areas/Area Councils nationwide as envisaged in Section 19(1) of the Electoral Act 2022.
“This will integrate fresh voters registered under the last CVR exercise to the existing register of over 84 million voters.
“The date will be announced as soon the Commission completes the ongoing Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) to weed out all double/multiple as well as ineligible registrants. We appeal to some of our friends in civil society to be guided accordingly” he added.
In his speech, the Chairman of TCR-IDPVF, Dr Baba Bila said the broadening of the IDP framework is critical because of the growing population of displaced Nigerians that is estimated at 3.228,000 as at the end of 2021.
He maintained that the validation meeting is therefore critical, for it aims to take in the suggestions from field officers directly working with IDPS across the country to improve the Framework.
Dr. Bila said certainly, this will send encouraging signals to the IDP communities dotted across the nation that their participation in the electoral process is valuable and will be protected by the Commission.
“INEC’s commitment to its mission to serve as an independent and effective Electoral Management Body committed to the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria is not in doubt as it ensures that persons displaced as a result of emergency are not disenfranchise” he stressed.
In her Goodwill message, the Zonal Sensitization and Candidate’s Colloquium on Electroal Act, Aishatu Jibril Dukku noted that the policy document proposed by INEC to guide the conduct of IDP voting operations and bring the IDP communities into the voting net stakeholders is worth applauding and support from all.
According to her, there is need to also improve on the framework and the Regulations for Voting by Internally Displaced Persons which will drive IDP voting operations for the 2023 general elections and are grounded on practical realities.
“In all truth, the overarching guiding principle for the IDP framework by the Commission is a demonstration of commitment to inclusivity which is consistent with the avoidance of discrimination in our electoral process.
“INEC’s commitment to its mission to serve as an independent and effective Electoral Management Body committed to the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections for sustainable democracy in Nigeria is not in doubt as it ensures that persons displaced as a result of emergency are not disenfranchised” she stressed.