In a move aimed at ensuring broader voter participation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced an extension of the voters’ registration period for Edo and Ondo States. Originally scheduled to conclude on June 5, 2024, the registration deadline has now been extended from Thursday, June 6, to Sunday, June 9, 2024. This decision follows appeals from various stakeholders who emphasized the need for more eligible voters to have the opportunity to register.

The commission’s statement underscored that the extension is in response to the numerous appeals received, reflecting INEC’s commitment to inclusivity and democratic participation. The registration hours have also been extended, with the exercise now running daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, providing more flexibility for individuals with varying schedules.

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Moreover, INEC has increased the number of registration centers significantly. Beyond the initial 397 ward locations and the two main offices in Benin City and Akure, the commission has expanded to include all 36 Local Government Area offices in the two states. This expansion is designed to enhance accessibility and reduce the burden on existing centers, making it easier for citizens in remote or challenging terrains to register.

The commission also revealed plans to deploy additional registration machines to areas identified as having unique needs, such as those with difficult terrain or communal challenges. This proactive measure aims to ensure that no eligible voter is disenfranchised due to logistical barriers. Detailed information regarding the new registration centers, including their names and addresses, has been made available on INEC’s official website and social media platforms to guide registrants in Edo and Ondo States.

INEC reported that the voter registration exercise is progressing well in both states. As of Monday, June 3, 2024, eight days into the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) process, a total of 120,458 new voters had registered. Of this number, 55,861 (46.4%) are male, while 64,597 (53.6%) are female, reflecting a healthy gender balance in the registration process.

A notable observation from the registration data is the significant participation of young voters. A substantial 68.8% of the newly registered voters, equating to 82,003 individuals, fall within the 18-34 age bracket. This demographic represents a crucial segment of the electorate and highlights the enthusiasm and engagement of Nigerian youth in the democratic process.

In terms of occupational demographics, students constitute the largest group of new registrants, with 43,419 individuals or 36.8% of the total. The data also indicates that 812 persons, or 0.67%, of the registrants are individuals with disabilities, underscoring the inclusive nature of the voter registration exercise.

INEC has indicated that the figures released are preliminary. The final registration numbers will be published on a state-by-state basis for all registration categories after a comprehensive data clean-up using the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS). This process will ensure the accuracy and integrity of the voter register, eliminating any instances of multiple registrations or other anomalies.

This extension and the accompanying measures underscore INEC’s dedication to facilitating a smooth and comprehensive voter registration process. By addressing the logistical challenges and extending the registration period, the commission is working to ensure that every eligible Nigerian in Edo and Ondo States has the opportunity to participate in the upcoming electoral process. The move reflects a broader commitment to strengthening Nigeria’s democracy by making it more inclusive and accessible to all segments of society.