The Federal Government of Nigeria has been called upon by a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to declare public holiday for citizens to partake in the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) exercise, ahead of the 2023 General Elections in the country.
Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative Project Director Abideen Olasupo who spoke on behalf of the coalition at a news conference in Abuja said that the group has initiated the YVote Naija project.
Members of the coalition include: Brain Builders Youth Development Initiative, Connected Development, Raising New Voices Webfala Digital Skills For All Initiative, Building Block for Peace Foundation, Kimpact Development Initiative, Aspillos Foundation and SING Nigeria.
The spokesman of the coalition stated that the aim of the project was to enhance civic participation in the electoral process ahead of the next elections.
“We call on the Federal Government to declare a public holiday as a National Day of Action to encourage people to get registered.
“We urged private organisations to give days off to employees to find time and register or even facilitate their logistics from the office to the nearest registration centres.
“In exactly 17 days, June 30, the CVR will be suspended by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to clean up its data and print Permanent Voters Card (PVC) ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“We have witnessed an unprecedented surge in the number of Nigerians coming to get registered.
“We are adding our voices to the call for the extension of the deadline.”
Mr. Olasupo said that the coalition also hoped that the extension would be accompanied with the decision to decentralise the registration exercise to the ward level and extension of the registration days to the weekends.
“We strongly urge that citizens use all available means to ensure they are fully registered and for those already registered, to make sure they collect their Permanent Voter Cards if and when available,” he said.
The spokesman said that the coalition also called on citizens to sustain the level of interest and participation beyond the CVR exercise to all other activities in the coming elections.
He added that missing out in any of these activities is not just a disservice to self, but also a disservice to generations yet unborn.
Mr. Olasupo said this could only be made impossible by first making sure that citizens participate in the ongoing CVR.
He said that the coalition called on INEC to develop interpersonal communication channels to engage Nigerians with information around the CVR, especially citizens whose registration are flagged as invalid.
He said that the commission should generally improve its technology deployment to harness its optimum utility ahead of the elections.
Mr. Olasupo said that the group appreciated the National Labour Congress (NLC) for developing a demand charter and urged them to complement the effort by mobilising all their members to register and vote.
He said that his organisation, Brain Builders Development Initiative, started a #ShowyourPVC# innovative on a social media campaign for young people.
Olasupo said that it was a platform where registered voters would be required to post a picture or video of themselves holding their PVCs while challenging their peers to do the same.
“Participants in this contest stand a chance to win great prizes, including smartphones.
“This challenge aims to encourage peer-to-peer voter mobilisation by deploying social media platforms at the twilight of the CVR process.
“Application for the YVote Naija CivicTech Hackathon 2022 ($5000 Grant) (universegist.com) is now open,” he said.
According to Olasupo, the hackathon is an initiative of Brain Builders Youth Development Initiaitve with support from Christian Aid Nigeria to identify Civic Tech solutions to enhance citizen participation in electoral process.
The spokesman said that the group was also embarking on several voter mobilisation drives to sensitise people on how to get registered to vote and help facilitate the application for the transfer of PVCs.
Mr. Olasupo added that the YVoteNaija was also initiated to increase voters’ education through data driven engagement, orientation of young Nigerians on the importance of getting involved in the process, especially at the grassroots level.