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Voter Registration: Group Charges INEC On Transparency, Say Problems Persist

Source: SAINT MUGAGA. - thewillnigeria.com
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ABUJA, Feb 01, (THEWILL) - An independent election monitoring group, the Project 2011 Swift Count has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to make the process more transparent even as it observed that the exercise is still being faced with the problem of malfunctioning Direct Data Capture (DDC) Machines and lack of essential materials.

Releasing the interim report of its monitoring on the ongoing registration at a press conference in Abuja today, the National Steering Committee of the Project co-chaired by Dafe Akpedeye (SAN) and Mashood Erubami however said the exercise has also recorded some visible improvements.

According to the interim report read by Dafe Akpedeye, “we are encouraged by the reports of our observers on the registration process. As is widely known the voter registration started extremely poorly, but has significantly improved.

“While it has not been perfect, INEC has recognized these challenges and has acted promptly to address the shortcomings. However, there are still problems with registration centres not opening, with the functioning of DDC systems and shortages of essential materials,” the report said.

“In two specific areas-opening times and the functioning of the DDC systems, we saw dramatic improvement over time. Only 18 percent of centres opened by noon on the first day, but this increased to over 93 percent by the end of the first week and has remained at that level.

“Similarly, DDC systems went from operating properly throughout the day at 46 percent of centre’s at the start of registration to 79 percent of centres by the end of the second week,” the report added.

The group said reports from its observers in all local governments across the country by the end of second week showed that 93 percent of registration centres were open by noon; 86 percent had two registration officials present, while 82 percent had complete DDC systems. 79 percent of centres had the DDC systems functioning throughout the day; 66 had all essential registration materials; 65 had sufficient materials throughout the day with 86 percent of centres opened throughout the day.

According to them, only 44 percent of the centres had security personnel throughout the country with the north-east having the lowest of 34 percent. It further explained that there were instances of attempts to disrupt the process in some areas.

The group in its recommendations called on INEC to release daily figures on the number of registrations per state and local government as well as ensure that all registrants receive their temporary voter card in advance of the April general elections.

Project 2011 Swift Count is a joint initiative of the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Justice, Development and Peace/ Caritas Nigeria (JDPC), Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) to promote free, fair, peaceful, credible and legitimate elections for all Nigerians.

The Project is co-sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) while the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is providing technical assistance.