The President of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, says Nigeria will assist Guinea-Bissau with Voters’ Registration kits for a successful enrolment of voters.
Yakubu, who is also the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), stated this when he fielded questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Friday.
He said the provision of the assistance followed his recent NEEDS assessment visit to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, adding that the country could not embark on the exercise without Nigeria’s assistance.
He said his visit to the Presidential Villa was to facilitate the provision of the kits as the country planned to commence the voters’ registration on Aug. 23.
“It has nothing to do with our national politics.
“Recall that in March 2016, I was elected the President of ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions.
“In that capacity recently, we undertook a NEEDS assessment visit to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau and part of what they requested from Nigeria, is assistance with voter registration kits.
“Since I returned a little over two weeks ago, I have received daily calls from the electoral commission and this afternoon, the ambassador of Guinea-Bissau to Nigeria.
“They want to start the voters’ registration on the 23rd of this month but they are relying on Nigeria to provide the assistance.
“That is why I came and had a meeting with Amb. Lawal, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, to facilitate Nigeria’s electoral assistance to Guinea-Bissau.
The INEC chairman, who stressed the importance of such electoral assistance to Guinea-Bissau, expressed the hope that the country would witness a stable political environment if elections were conducted peacefully.
“It is important to do so because you should also remember that for several years now, Nigeria has had troops in Guinea-Bissau to stabilise the country and that stability is dependent upon the conduct of proper elections.
“Once elections are conducted, Nigerian Troops can now safely withdraw.
“So it’s much cheaper for Nigeria to provide this assistance,’’ Yakubu said.
On the on-going voter registration in Nigeria, the INEC chairman said the commission had registered fresh 12.1million citizens as of Aug. 11, and this figure would be added to the 70 million voters already registered for the 2019 general elections.
He explained that the voter registration was extended by the commission in response to appeal by Nigerians, adding that the exercise would be conducted daily including weekends but excluding public holidays.
“Let me make this very important clarification, the registration is going to take place between 9 in the morning and 5p.m daily, including weekends but excluding the public holidays.
“You know Tuesday and Wednesday next week have been declared public holidays.
“The second important clarification that I should make is that the second voters registration exercise, the end of the continuous voter registration is Aug. 31 but does not mean the end of the collection of PVCs.
“Collection of PVCs will continue until at least one week to the general election in Feb. 2019,’’ he said.