Poll to assess the On-going INEC Continuous Voter Registration Exercise

Abuja, Nigeria. January 17th, 2018 – A new report released by NOIPolls on the assessment of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has revealed that Nigerians have scored the exercise 57 percent, indicating an average assessment. The poll which consisted of a mix of telephone and on-the-ground face-to-face interviews at registration centres further revealed that about 8 in 10 (81 percent) fresh registrants say they have experienced some challenges at registration centres such as: Long Queues (35 percent), Distance to Registration Centres (25 percent), Inadequate Computer Systems (19 percent), Late arrival of INEC Officials (16 percent); Poor Communication Skills of INEC Officials (11 percent), and Inadequate Personnel (7 percent) to mention a few. 

Interestingly, the on-the-ground face-to-face assessment of the exercise gave enumerators the opportunity to observe and hear directly from prospective registrants, who complained of having to wake up as early as 3:00 am to visit registration centres and still experience difficulty registering due to long queues and the sheer number of people coming out to register. In some specific instances, out of over 200 names on an attendance list at a centre, only about 30 prospective registrants get registered daily due to inadequacy of INEC officials and computer systems. The poll found that most registration centres had only a single laptop computer, which had the capacity to register about 30 to 40 people daily without technical disruptions. 

These are the key highlights from the recent poll conducted to assess the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration exercise by INEC. The poll was conducted in the week commencing January, 29th 2018. 

Brief Background

Prequel to the forthcoming general elections in 2019, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the 27th of April 2017 announced the commencement of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise. This is in pursuance to the 2010 Electoral Act (as amended) which mandates the Commission to carry out CVR nationwide[1].  

Recently, there has been various campaigns by Nigerians regarding voters’ registration and a vast number of people are seen at the designated centers for the CVR exercise to either register or apply for the transfer of their permanent voter’s card / polling unit. The Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said that the commission had 74 million voters in its register by the second week of January 2019[2]. This figure indicates that more persons need to be registered before the general elections. Consequently, INEC approved and announced the creation of 10 additional CVR centers in each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory[3]

Despite the newly created centers, there are still complaints about the inability of the centers to handle the number of unregistered voters who spend a whole day waiting to be registered. In light of these, NOIPolls conducted a poll to gauge the perceptions and level of participation of Nigerians regarding the CVR exercise in preparation for the 2019 general elections. 

Poll Findings

Firstly, the poll sought to assess the level of awareness on the ongoing continuous voter registration exercise nationwide. The result revealed that 68 percent of respondents are aware of the ongoing exercise, while 32 percent said they were unaware of the exercise. These findings therefore portray a relative level of awareness across the nation, considering that figures above 50 percent were generally recorded across all geo-political zones; although awareness seemed highest in the North-East (83 percent) and North-Central (74 percent).

Poll results revealed that the registration centres available for prospective registrants are not situated within their vicinities as our analysis showed that only 44 per cent of respondents affirmed that they have registration centres around their neighbourhood. To buttress this, Daily Trust online platform reported that some eligible registrants made a plea for registration centres to be sited close to their domains[4]

Conversely, 56 percent said they do not have any registration centres close to their locality. This obviously can go a long way in restricting citizens from exercising their civic rights, especially in the South-West and the South-East zones where only 32 and 37 percent, respectively, showed awareness of registration centres close to their localities. Although, INEC mentioned that it has a rotation plan for some Registration Centres to rotate within the Registration Areas (Ward) in each of the local government areas, there is a need to expedite this process.

In order to gain more insight on the ongoing continuous voter registration excercise, respondents nationwide were asked if they had been to any INEC registration centre recently and results revealed that 76 percent, which formed the majority, claimed that they had not visited the centre recently. This category of respondents may have already been registered prior to the current exercise, may not be aware of the exercise or may be aware but not willing to participate in the exercise due to the various challenges highlighted above. On the other hand, 24 percent claimed they had visited the centres recently and further analysis by geo-political zone showed that the North-East (31 percent) and the North-Central (30 percent) had the highest number of respondents in this category. According to age group, respondents aged 18-35 years are more likely to have visited a registeration centre recently.

The respondents who have visited the registration centres gave a broader perspective of their rationale for recent visits to a registration centre. The largest proportion, 74 percent, claimed they went there for the purpose of a fresh registration. Also, respondents aged 18 – 35 accounted for the largest proportion of respondents in this category. This is no surprise considering that some respondents in this age group were previously not eligible to vote during the last election due to their age. In addition, the North-Central zone, with 86 percent representation, had the largest share of respondents who went for fresh registration. Other reasons for recent visits to registration centres include ‘Collection of PVC’ (9 percent), ‘Retrieving of lost PVC/TVC’ (5 percent) and for ‘General enquiry’ (4 percent) amongst other reasons.

In the same manner, a larger proportion (77 percent) of respondents who participated in the face-to-face interviews within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) also attested that they went there for fresh registration. This was followed in a far distance by 9 percent who said they went there for transfer of PVC and 7 percent for collection of PVC, amongst others.

Furthermore, the proportion (74 percent) that went for fresh registration were asked if they got their Temporary Voters Card (TVC) instantly and results revealed that 66 percent affirmed that they got it immediately while 34 percent were unable to get the TVC at the point of registration. 

On number of visit to registration centres, findings revealed that majority of the respondents (52 percent) visited registration centres more than once before achieving their aim while 11 percent of the respondent sadly could not register or transfer their PVCs/TVCs even after visiting the centres severally. On the other hand, 37 percent claimed that they were able to achieve their aim on the first visit.  

Furthermore, results obtained from the face-to-face poll revealed that around the 6 Area Councils of the FCT showed that a larger proportion of the respondents (62 percent) visited INEC registration centres more than once and 17 percent did not achieve their aim.

Additionally, more findings revealed that most registrants spent between 1 to 6 hours at the registration centres before they got registered.

The poll results revealed clearly that about 8 in 10 respondents (81 percent) who have recently visited a registration centre for fresh registration affirmed that they faced some challenges with the process; with significant proportions based in the South-South (93 percent) and North-West (87 percent).

Similarly, results from the face-to-face interviews conducted in the FCT showed that 78 percent of the registrants are also facing various challenges in some registration centres.

Consequently, the poll results showed that ‘long queue’ was the major challenge as stated by 35 percent of the respondents that who said they have faced difficulties at the registration centres. This further buttresses the fact that majority of the centres are overcrowded. Another challenge stated was that ‘registration centres are far from registrant’s locality’ (25 percent) and ‘limited equipment at the centres’ (19 percent). These factors are also capable of limiting the number of registrants attended to by the INEC officials on a daily basis. Other challenges mentioned include; ‘late arrival of INEC officials’ (16 percent) and ‘INEC officials lack communication skills’ (11 percent) amongst other challenges.

Likewise, the face-to-face poll conducted across INEC centres in the FCT also revealed that prospective registrants mostly lamented long queues (42 percent), inadequate and malfunctioning computer systems, inadequate registration centres and lack of coordination amongst other challenges.

In terms of rating the continuous voter registration exercise, Nigerians scored the exercise 57 percent signifying an avergae assessment.

The results also revealed a low level of awareness on Polling Units transfer from initial location of registration as majority (77 percent) of the respondents are unaware of the process. Only 23 percent affirmed that they are aware of this process, hence, there is a need for a massive enlightenment in this regard.

The results also revealed a low level of awareness on Polling Units transfer from initial location of registration as majority (77 percent) of the respondents are unaware of the process. Only 23 percent affirmed that they are aware of this process, hence, there is a need for a massive enlightenment in this regard.

Furthermore, out of the 23 percent that cited that they are aware of the transfer of Polling Unit, slightly more than half (53 percent) of the respondents in this category claimed they are fully knowledgeable of the process involved. Across the geopolitical zones, the North-East region has the largest percentage (82 per cent) of Nigerians who understand the transfer process. On the other hand, 40 percent claimed they do not understand the process at all, while 7 percent said they do not really understand the process.

In terms of recommendation, most respondents (34 percent) want INEC to embark on grass root sensitization so as to enable more Nigerians participate in the on-going voters’ registration exercise. This is closely followed by respondents who believe that more INEC registration centres should be created across all LGAs in the country as well as hiring more staff to fasten the process.   

Finally, analysis of the face-to-face poll revealed that 28 percent of the registrants stated that INEC should provide more functional computers.  In clearer terms, according to the experiences gathered during the course of the fieldwork, INEC should provide better data capturing machines, with adequate provision for charging the systems. 

Furthermore, the analysis showed that 26 percent of respondents suggested that INEC should create more registration centres across local government areas and this could be as a result of the dearth of registration centres across the nation. Additionally, 25 percent of respondents polled stated that INEC should recruit more staff and they should be properly trained amongst other recommendation. Respondents in this category are of the opinion that registration centres are currently under staffed when compared to the number of registrants that besiege most centres on a daily basis and they suggested that staff should be trained to be polite and friendly.

In conclusion, the poll has revealed that prospective voters are faced with series of challenges at registration centres across the country and for the exercise to experience some improvements, INEC should immediately commence arrangements to reorganize, decentralize and make the continuous voter registration process more flexible, less cumbersome and accessible to qualified citizens. 

On voters’ education, a large proportion of Nigerians (77 percent) are not aware that they can transfer their polling unit from where they initially registered to their current location. Therefore, INEC should pay more attention to voters’ education aimed at creating awareness on the provisions contained in the Electoral Act, particularly as it concerns voters who do not have the required information. Also, while all stakeholders must join hands in conducting voters’ education across the states and the 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), INEC and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) should work with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to drive the process of enlightening citizens, particularly those in the rural areas, on the electoral processes and the Continuous Voters’ Registration Exercise as this report revealed that 32 percent are unaware of the ongoing exercise. 

On electronic improvement, 3 percent of registrants have recommended that INEC should allow citizens register anywhere irrespective of where they live and another 3 percent suggested that e-registration be made available to ease the frustratingly long queues currently been experienced at some registration centres nationwide. Finally, INEC needs to urgently increase the number of computer systems and officials allocated to registration centres nationwide. There’s need for proper mapping of registration centres in order to identify those with heavy traffic and reallocate needed resources to such centres.   

Polling Methodology

The Poll was conducted in the week commencing January 29th, 2018. It involved telephone interviews of a random nationwide sample. 1,000 randomly selected phone-owning Nigerians aged 18 years and above, representing the six geopolitical zones in the country, were interviewed. With a sample of this size, we can say with 95% confidence that the results obtained are statistically precise - within a range of plus or minus 3%. In addition, a face-to-face poll was conducted with a sample size of 720 registrants across 12 registration centres in the 6 Area Councils in the FCT. It’s important to note that convenience sampling was adopted to select respondents at the 12 registration centres in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT). NOIPolls Limited, No1 for country specific polling services in West Africa. We conduct periodic opinion polls and studies on various socio-economic and political issues in Nigeria. More information is available at www.noi-polls.com or download our mobile app NOIPolls on your smartphone. 

Disclaimer

This press release has been produced by NOIPolls Limited to provide information on all issues which form the subject matter of the document. Kindly note that while we are willing to share results from our polls with the general public, we only request that NOIPolls be acknowledged as author whenever and wherever our poll results are used, cited or published. 

NOIPolls hereby certifies that all the views expressed in this document accurately reflect its views of respondents polled for the poll, and background information is based on information from various sources that it believes are reliable; however, no representation is made that it is accurate or complete. Whilst reasonable care has been taken in preparing this document, no responsibility or liability is accepted for errors or fact or for any views expressed herein by NOIPolls for actions taken as a result of information provided in this report. Any ratings, forecasts, estimates, opinions or views herein constitute a judgment as at the date of this document. If the date of this document is not current, the views and content may not reflect NOIPolls’ current findings and/or thinking. 

Press Contact

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Email: editor@noi-polls.com

[1]http://www.inecnigeria.org/?inecnews=nationwide-continuous-voter-registration-exercise

[2]http://dailypost.ng/2018/01/19/2019-election-inec-reveals-number-registered-voters/

[3]https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/251080-inec-creates-10-new-continuous-voters-registration-centres-state-fct.html 

[4] https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/shelve-your-visit-or-face-law-police-warn-kwankwaso.html