The OurMumuDonDo group led by popular musician, Charles Oputa a.k.a. Charly Boy, and other civil rights groups have protested against the registration of underage voters in northern Nigeria, particularly in Kano State.
The groups, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that children are not allowed to vote in 2019.
The call came amid pictures trending on the social media showing children between the ages of eight and 15 voting during the recently concluded local government election in Kano State.
The coalition also called on INEC to ensure that the process of registration and collection of Permanent Voter Cards were not cumbersome.
Mr. Deji Adeyanju, who read a statement at the headquarters of INEC in Abuja on Monday, said if the process of registration was too difficult, many Nigerians would be discouraged and ultimately might not vote in 2019.
The letter, which was received by the Assistant Director in charge of security, Mr. J. Musa, was signed by Charly Boy, Deji Adeyanju (Concerned Nigerians); Ariyo Atoye (Coalition in Defence Of Nigerian Democracy), Bako Usman (Campaign For Democracy) and Moses Paul (MAD Connect).
The coalition also said it was interested in working with INEC to address voter apathy and disenfranchisement “as a result of the long time practice of rigidity in the electoral process.”
The group highlighted the issue of electronic voting and the challenges of documentation and population of eligible voters, which it said needed public engagement.
“We humbly request a strategic engagement with INEC to discuss the issues identified above and other likely developments obstructing the electoral process and how we can equally be of significant help as stakeholders,” the letter read in part.
The movement stated that if necessary actions were not taken to remedy the deficiencies plaguing the electoral process, “it will be difficult to eradicate voter apathy and disenfranchisement, and even more difficult to sustain our democracy.”
However, the Kano State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Riskuwa Shehu, said INEC did not organise local government elections and so could not be blamed for any cases of underage voting.
Shehu said the voter register used for the local government election was different from the one used by INEC and promised that children would not be allowed to vote in Kano State in 2019.
He referred one of our correspondents to the Chairman of the Kano State Independent Electoral Commission, Prof. Garba Sheka, for more comment.
Efforts to speak with Sheka, however, proved abortive as he did not respond to repeated telephone calls.
Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has enjoined students in tertiary institutions in the state that are 18 years and above to ensure that they have a PVC by making themselves available for voter registration at the INEC office nearest to them if they have not registered before.
Okowa gave the advice on Monday at the College of Education, Agbor during a one-day sensitisation/awareness on voter education in tertiary institutions which was organised by the Directorate of Orientation, Governor’s Office in collaboration with the COE, Agbor.
The governor, who was represented by the Information Commissioner, Mr. Patrick Ukah, disclosed that the advice had become necessary as it would enable them to make a well-informed decision on who represents them at the various levels of government.
“We will be failing in our duties if we fail to tell you of the power that you have as eligible voters; you have enormous electoral power to elect any candidate of your choice but you can only do this if you have your PVC,” Okowa stated.
While thanking the Directorate of Orientation and the COE, Agbor, for collaborating to organise the sensitisation/awareness programme on voter education, the governor implored students to put what they were taught into practice by actively exercising their franchise in a responsible manner.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Executive Assistant to the Governor on Orientation, Eugene Uzum, said the import of the sensitisation programme was to adequately enlighten students in tertiary institutions of learning about the need to have a PVC.
Uzum disclosed that the sensitisation/awareness on voter education would take place in all the tertiary institutions of learning in the state, adding that voter education was an essential ingredient needed to stimulate students’ interest in the electoral process.