Democratic Process: PRIMORG wants more effective approach to citizen’s engagement




The Progressive Impact organization for Community Development (PRIMORG) has released its comprehensive report on the just concluded Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and calls for a more comprehensive approach to improve popular participation in the Nigeria’s democratic process.

In the report, which incorporates findings from field observation and a survey in the six North central states of Nigeria and Abuja, PRIMORG says the number of registered voters as released by INEC compared to the population of registerable citizens, 18 years and above is not a good report for a democracy that thrives on popular participation.

The PRIMORG Report says INEC, the NOA, the political parties and other stakeholders, including the media need to work harder and develop templates to be able to mobilise more Nigerians to be involved in elections and other democratic processes.

The report specifically finds that the schedule for the release of PVCs after registration was not good enough to promote the encouragement of would-be voters as over 74% of survey participants were not satisfied that it takes months for INEC to deliver PVCs after registration.

The report however reveals that nearly 80% of the survey participants are willing to vote in the 2019 elections, a clear indication that all the efforts by INEC and the stakeholders to mobilize Nigerians to be interested in voting may resonate positively in a relatively larger number of voters in the coming elections compared to previous elections.   

Summary of The Findings

The result revealed that (81.4%) of respondents have registered to vote in the forthcoming elections, (17%) were yet to register while a little above (1.6%) were indifferent. This showed that majority of Nigerians are willing to take part in the forthcoming February, 2018 General Elections in Nigeria. However, some of the impending challenges likely to be faced by prospective registrant may be the reasons for the remaining (18%) who were yet to register as voters.

Similarly, (79%) of respondents agreed to vote in the forthcoming elections, (2%) had no plan to vote and sure would not vote respectively while (4%) have not decided if they would vote or not. (13%) of respondent are somewhat sure of taking part in the elections. These findings underscore the fact that majority of the respondent are willing to vote in the upcoming elections with (79%) ready to vote in the elections. Though (2%) of the respondent of not sure of voting, this is considered very low compared to the remaining (17%) in total who were undecided by answering “somewhat sure (13%)”, “not sure (4%)” respectively.

Overall, (47%) of respondent said INEC did not prepare for the exercise. This showed a below average level of preparation from the commission. This also underscored some of the challenges witnessed in the earlier stage of the exercise such as late arrival of personnel and materials in some registration centres and absence of enabling environment or ideal working space for the commission officials. Though (19%) are undecided, (3%) felt the commission did not prepare at all while (29%)answered “not quite prepared”.

Interestingly, (36%) of respondents said security agencies were prepared, (16%) believed they are not prepared at all while (23%) were indifferent about security preparation for the exercise. With (36%) respondents replied “well prepared (16%) and prepared (20%)combined, the findings showed that security agencies were not prepared for the exercise given the fact that this was a below average performance if 50% is considered average performance. The result also corroborates our observers’ report that shows that little or no presence of security agents were witnessed in many of the registration centres observed. In total, (64%) of the respondent believed security agencies did not prepare well for the exercise. Security deployment would help maintain law and order and also prevent any outbreak of violence in Registration Centres.

Only (9%) of respondents were very dissatisfied with the performance of INEC in the ongoing CVR exercise, (24%) were satisfied, with (28%)dissatisfied and (31%) somewhat satisfied with the commission performance on the exercise. Combining respondents that answered “very satisfied and somewhat satisfied”, the survey showed a total of(54%) respondents, a little above average who were satisfied with the conduct of the commission. The findings possibly describe the untoward hardship in terms of mobility, long suffering in loss of working hours and dislocation of registration centres as a result of lack of information faced by potential registrants during the exercise.

The findings indicated 100% of respondents are aware of the exercise,(29%) of respondents identify “community” as their source of information, (28%) said “television”, (27%) through “radio” while (8%)responded “newspapers” and (8%) through other sources. The survey reveals that majority of the registrants/respondents got information about the exercise through broadcast media (radio and television). These findings therefore portray a high level of awareness across the zone, considering that all respondents across the 7 states of the zone were aware of the exercise; although INEC seemed to devise other innovative ways of engaging communities or disseminating information to them aside the use of broadcast media. 

Finally, the results showed (74%) of respondents were not satisfied with the current schedule of the release of PVC by INEC several months after registration. Though, (26%) of them were satisfied with the present arrangement by the commission.  However, the poll revealed that majority of respondents (74%) are not satisfied with the current schedule for the collection of PVC by the commission several months after registration. The poll portray disappointment in the present arrangement as citizens yearn for timely processing and collection of PVC by Nigerians.

PRIMORG however recommends the following:

1.    That INEC in collaboration with other relevant agencies like NOA and CSOs should intensify effort to sensitise Nigerians who have earlier registered to pick up their PVCs at INEC offices nearest to them;

2.    That adequate security officers should be deployed to all registration centres to forestall any break down of law and order. These include police, NSCDC and immigration personnel so as to deter possible outbreak of violence and alien registrants in registration centres;

3.    That Nigerians should desist from multiple registration but ensure that they register close to their places of residence since vehicular movement will be prevented on election day;

4.    That political party should monitor the process and mobilise members to go out and participate in the process; and

5.    That Nigerians of voting age who have not registered should do so in the interest of our democracy.

Over all, PRIMORG observed substantial improvements in the commission’s effort in ensuring that challenges are identified and addressed timely. However, there is need for public sensitization to encourage those who have not collected their PVC to do so now that the cards are available in the registration centres. INEC should make it a routine to release vital information on the ongoing CVR exercise. This will largely help to calm nerves and allay public fears regarding the exercise.

 




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