In order to fast track the on-going voters’ registration exercise in the FCT, The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) said it will work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide mobile registration teams that can reach the remote areas of the territory to get people registered.
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello, made this disclosure Thursday, during a stakeholders meeting hosted by the FCT Administration aimed at sensitizing the key players in the exercise and ensuring that the target groups are able to register.
His words: “The main reason why we decided to call this very important stakeholders meeting is a result of a presentation made by the National Chairman of INEC to Federal Executive Council on 17th of May. During the presentation where all the Council members were present, I noticed the statistics for the FCT with regards to overall number of registered voters, with regards to uncollected voters registration cards, as well as the three-week report regarding the exercise that commenced on the 27th of April, up till the time when the report was presented to us at Council last week, was not encouraging”.
“I felt very concerned because if you look at all the statistics for these three important items and you match the performance in the FCT with the performance in other parts of the country, we were the last. I felt very concerned. That is why I consulted my colleagues and we decided to call you today”.
The Minister reminded the stakeholders that in a democracy, the weapon every citizen has is the ability to vote. “So, the voters’ registration exercise is a fundamental condition for every person to exercise his or her human fundamental rights to decide on who governs him or her and that is why it is very important”.
He said the FCT Administration had, during a meeting with the Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the FCT decided that while INEC at the FCT and at the national level is working on all the recommendations they have collated, the FCT Administration will work together with the Area Council Chairmen and INEC to provide mobile teams that will be able to go to inaccessible areas of the territory.
“All we need to do is work out a system where we can fund the logistic and provide security and then of course, INEC and the Area Councils will provide us the staff and the location, so that we can target a mobile team that will maybe on a daily basis from one community to another”.
Malam Bello lamented that the total voters’ registration figure for the FCT does not match the population of the Territory which he said is now going towards 6 million, adding that the high percentage of uncollected Permanent Voters’ Card (PVCs) is also very reflective of our society because no matter how much you sensitize people and mobilize them to go and register, as long as they do not collect the card, the whole exercise is of no value.
“That is why I am very encouraged with the massive turnout today and the feedback, and the comment that all of you, starting from our distinguished elected representatives as well as our royal fathers, our religious leaders as well as the political parties; the message has been sent through INEC and it is very clear”.
The Minister emphasised that it is very important for all of us, starting from the religious leaders, the political leaders, the traditional leaders and all other stakeholders to go back and explain what was discussed at the meeting to the grassroots “because at the end of the day, without these cards, you have no right to complain at all if you are not governed properly”, he said.
“As political leaders here, it is our duty to make sure that everybody is registered and I think the residents expect nothing less from us. If the FCT is able register its true potentials of voter, then you see our voice in national affairs will be stronger”.
Earlier in her remarks at the meeting, the Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for FCT Hajiya Samaltu Gaji Ibrahim said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) flagged off the Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise on April 27, adding that like in other states of the Federation, the exercise is going on in the FCT.
Hajiya Ibrahim said the Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise aims to register eligible voters who have just matured into the voting age of 18 years and those who could not register previously, so that they can participate in the forthcoming general elections.
She disclosed that the exercise will also cater for those wishing to change their points of registration from their former places of abode to new ones as well as distribution of permanent voters’ card. The Acting REC said so far, 5,424 people have been registered in the FCT while 876 people who sought for transfer have also been registered.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Senator Representing the FCT, Senator Philip Aduda, lamented that the arrangement made by INEC to conduct the exercise in local government Area offices was not conducive as many prospective voters in the remote villages may not be able to go to such centres and could therefore be disenfranchised. He therefore called on the INEC to take the exercise to the polling units or ward levels which are much closer to the people.
The meeting which was attended by the FCT Permanent Secretary Dr. Babatope Ajakaiye, also had in attendance Hon. Zaphaniah Jisalo, member of the House representing AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency and Hon. Zakari Angulu Dodi representing Abuja South Federal Constituency. Others are traditional rulers, party leaders, youth and women groups and other stakeholders.
Special Assistant (Media) to FCT Minister
Thursday, May 25, 2017