Osinbajo, Tinubu Presidency Chances Boosts SW Online Voter Registration
If the numbers representing new voters’ registration coming out of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerians, particularly the young ones, are demonstrating renewed enthusiasm to exercise their voting rights and determine who becomes the next president of Nigeria in 2023.
LEADERSHIP Sunday’s survey showed that voters are influenced by identity and for the first time in recent memory, Nigeria has determined presidential candidates from each of the six geopolitical zones, and in some cases multiple candidates are emerging from each zone.
The survey of the country’s political spectrum entailed speaking to socio-political groups across the regions, political leaders and newly registered voters, all to make sense of the pace of registration and to determine the factors that are motivating voters to register.
The political campaigns by supports groups of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Bola Tinubu playing out on social media, television screens and behind closed doors is having a real impact on voter enthusiasm and new voter registration in the Southwest region of the country.
According to data from INEC showing record numbers of online voter registration in the Southwest, the upcoming governorship elections in Osun and Ekiti are significantly contributing to the high numbers of online registrations and those that have completed the registration process physically.
And in spite of clamour for the presidency to be zoned to the Southeast, with former SGF Pius Anyim, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi and Sen Rochas Okorocha showing interest, the number of new registrations in the zone is the lowest of the six regions, while those from the South-south are highest.
The Southwest, which has Osinbajo, Tinubu and Governor Kayode Fayemi as possible presidential candidates comes second, while the Northwest, which is heading towards an election for the first time since 2003 without President Muhammadu Buhari’s name on the ballot, is third on the list.
Meanwhile, the head of media and publicity, Tinubu Support Group (TSG) Tosin Adeyanju, has debunked insinuations of a cold war between Tinubu Support Group, SWAGA and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo
Adeyanju said it was malicious campaign to drive a wedge between groups working for Asiwaju’s 2023 presidency and the vice president who is yet to declare for president.
Tosin Adeyanju, in a statement yesterday restated that the conference of Tinubu Support Group was to identify with groups working for their principal and help with policy direction and advice.
Earlier on Friday, there were reports speculating that there was crisis between the Tinubu Support Group and SWAGA over harmonisation.
According to Tosin, there was no time it was said that the groups should collapse under one leadership.
He described the publication as a mischievous attempt to drag the Tinubu camp into controversies and urged Nigerians and especially Tinubu loyalists not to fall for the mischief.
He said all groups would retain their identities and functions and continue to do the work they started in their various localities.
Our attention has been drawn to a report in an online newspaper alleging that harmonisation had worsened a phantom cold war between Tinubu Support Group (TSG) and South West Agenda (SWAGA).
“This is an imagination of the news organisation in order to create unnecessary attention. Tinubu Support Group and other support groups are wholly committed to the progressive ideology of the Tinubu political family and we remain focus on the task ahead.
“There has never been and there will never be war in whatsoever form between our group (TSG) and any other support group. Our political family remains and will forever remain strong. And we are staying focused in our commitment to building and maintaining a cohesive political party ambition of our principal,” Tosin said.
The data from INEC shows that 2,805,089 citizens have completed their physical registration, with Osun State leading with 234,627 completed registrations.
So far, 450,842 voters have completed their continuous voters registration in North Central, 335,089 in North East, 528,530 in North West, 508,562 in South West, 306,020 in South East and 666,052 in South South.
Also, 912,779 voters have completed their online voters registration in North Central, 730,923 in North East, 977,366 in North West, 1,141,432 in South West, 323,082 in South East and 1,261,911 in South South.
The electoral body also said that it has received 5,353,744 fresh online registrants.
The chief press secretary to the chairman INEC, Rotimi Oyekanmi who disclosed this in a statement made available to LEADERSHIP Weekend in Abuja also said young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 34 are still leading in both online registrations with 1,950,623 registered voters.
He noted that the online pre-registration of voters has now entered its Quarter three, week four.
Oyekanmi also noted that 1,414,675 male and 1,390,414 female has completed their registration.
Meanwhile, 25,523 people living with disabilities (PLWDs) have also completed their registration.
He also appealed to all eligible citizens to seize the opportunity of both the online and in-person processes to register as voter.
Explaining the low numbers from their region, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohananeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia explained that majorly of Igbos are not resident in the Southeast, adding that most of them register and vote where they are residing.
Ogbonnia, who disclosed this in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday in Enugu, said it was not an indication of aparthy that the Southeast has the smallest number in recent Voter Registration Exercise.
He stated that the Southeast has more than 14 million people living in the northern part of Nigeria, adding that more than 5 million people from the Southeast also reside in the Southwest.
The Ohananeze spokesman noted that people of the Southeast are scattered all over the country and that if the presidential ticket comes to the Southeast the number of the Igbo population will be reflected in the election.
“Igbos are scattered everywhere. Nobody should look at Igbos from geographical location. We are adventurous. So that the Southeast has the lowest number of registered people in recent Voter Registration Exercise is not aparty. They register and vote where they reside” he stated.
According to the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) through the national Publicity Secretary Mr Emmanuel Yawe, “The citizen cannot vote if he is not registered. Registration is a civic responsibility our citizens in the north should take seriously.
“The security situation in the north may be responsible for the poor turnout. But this is not the end. There are remedial measures that can be embarked on to improve the registratiom numbers even at this stage. Those who are registered must make sure they vote”.
Stakeholders in the Southwest who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday called on all relevant stakeholders including the traditional rulers, religious bodies, political leaders, NGOs, women groups, and market leaders as well as the media to step up their ongoing efforts geared towards sensitizing the people on the significance of the CVR exercise.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Sunday on why more voters are not registering former minister of Works and Housing, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe said, “For us to galvanise people in the Southwest to show interest in registering to vote local governments must work. Local governments are not allowed to work properly.
“The local governments are the closest to the electorate, once they don’t work, the people will be unwilling to vote.
‘’Is it the state governor that will leave the state secretariat to come and mobilise people to vote? The more we injure local government administration, then the lesser vote we get.
‘’People are reluctant to register to vote because they keep asking themselves what they benefit from the government, if you are not benefiting from the government, what are you voting for.
For the chieftain of the pan Yoruba social-political organization, Senator Femi Okurounmu agitations for self-determination could be responsible for the low turnout of voters for registration.
He said, “It is an act of ignorance for a lower number of people to register to vote in the Southwest, our people need to be encouraged and advised to register massively.
‘’Irrespective of where the president will come from, the first thing is that we need people to register, our people must register heavily, though some people are disturbing the people of the South West that they won’t vote, I think that is one of the factors for low registration. I think that is a big mistake, the people must register and be ready to vote.’’
Meantime, a coalition of several pan Yoruba and civil society groups operating under the aegis of Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements, (AYDM) seem to be tackling the problem by launching the campaign for a minimum of 40million voters in the old Western region comprising of the current six South West states and Delta, Edo States.
The project, according to the group, is driven by the quest to explore the full political strength of the Yoruba nation and also to tell the world what “we can do with the population of the people of the old Western Region.”
The Alliance for Yoruba Democratic Movements, the General Secretary, Mr. Popoola Ajayi said the campaign is not affiliated with any political party but aimed at energizing the Yoruba and people of the old Western Region to be able to get what they want using their population strength as a bargaining chip.
In the 2015 elections, AYDM said less than 20 percent of the eligible voters in this focal point registered, in 2011, the percentage dropped to 18 per cent while in 2019, the number of registered voters was less about 17 per cent of eligible voters.
‘This has placed the region at a gross disadvantage,’ they said adding that,’’ it is ridiculous that Lagos with a population of some 18 million with 10 million eligible voters came up with less than 1.8 million votes in 2019.’’
The large number of youths that make up the new registrants appears to vindicate former President of the Senate and presidential hopeful, Bukola Saraki, who has been channeling a lot of his energy towards mobilizing the young to register ahead of 2023.
Echoing his calls, a close political associate of Saraki, former acting national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alh Abubakar Kawu Baraje, just recently urged Nigerian youths of voting age to endeavour to obtain their permanent voter’s cards (PVC).
Baraje reminded the youths that the PVC remains the only weapon that they can use to elect credible leaders for the country across board.
The former PDP boss spoke while participating in the party’s e- registration exercise at his Baboko ward in Ilorin West local government area of Kwara State
Baraje equally urged PDP members in the state to guard their voters card jealously as the 2023 general election is fast approaching.
“Let us ensure that our children who just attained the age of 18 obtain their voters cards. Those who lost their cards should obtain new ones,” Baraje charged the PDP members.
Voters across the country are also explaining why they are deciding to register. Miss Bola Tawose in Osun said she only registered to vote after attaining the required age provided for by the constitution.
Tawose who got registered at the headquarters of INEC, Olorunda local government area of Osun State said with her registration as a voter, she can now participate in the election of leaders.
Besides, she said having registered now, she equally has the right to be voted for and is not just a helpless observer.
Tawose said even at her tender age, she believed in one Nigeria and is not concerned about which zone the president comes from, adding that her concern is good governance.
A university student, Adenike Ajayi, who spoke with our correspondent in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti state capital said she did her voter registration last year in Akure, Ondo State capital.
Ajayi said one of her older brothers, who is a supporter of one of the major political parties in country, encouraged her to register and get her voter card to participate in both the state and general elections in the year 2023.
On qualities she is looking for in the next president of Nigeria, Ajayi said, “For me, what I always pray for is a leader that knows the best way to approach and handle every sector of our system as nation and will better the lot of every Nigeria citizens.
“The president can come from any part of the country in as much he or she has what it takes to address, fix and tackle all the multifaceted challenges confronting our nation”.
Another respondent, Mr Adeolu Omoniyi, who is a businessman, said he registered as a voter late last year around bank road in Ado Ekiti.
Omoniyi who is in his thirties, disclosed that he has not been involved in any election and has not voted for any candidate of his choice but sees the need for it now.
“Though I am of age but I have never participate in any election in this country before but I will like to be part of it now”.
On the reason why he wants to vote now, he said “some of my friends and I who do not believe in politicians have always been complaining about our governments since we returned to democracy in Nigeria. But things are getting worse with every successive government; we can’t even say which is better.
“I really want to be part of the process this time around to decide who leads our state and country in the year 2023, hoping that my vote and that of other Nigerians will count”.
When asked whether it really matter that the next president come from his geo-political zone in the next political dispensation, he said, “What is good is to have a competent president from any part of our country but I will like the next one to come from the South, particularly the Southwest going by the political experience and antecedents of those who have shown interests to vie for the seat from the zone”.
An eligible voter in Oyo State, Mr Babalola Adetunji has defended the possession and collection of the voter’s card not only as a means of participating in the general election but to vote for candidates of his choice.
The voter in an interview argued that voting is part of their civic responsibilities towards electing credible leaders in free and fair elections.
According to him, he decided to register for the exercise in anticipation that the political parties would zone the presidency to the South West.
The banker said that should any of the parties zone the presidency to the Southwest, the voter’s card will enable him vote for his choice.
He argued that it was not only an opportunity to participate in the exercise but give support to the candidate from the zone.
“I have just collected my PVC, the idea is not only to participate in the election but to vote for presidential candidate from the South West.
“I think it is an opportunity to see a candidate from the zone becoming president in 2023. We cannot afford to miss it this time around”, he added.
A registered voter in Kaduna, John Tse, said he acquired a voter’s card not for 2023 general elections but for a banking purpose.
Tse, who resides in Television, Kaduna South local government told our correspondent that, he only voted in 2015 polls but he was disappointed the way office holders are governing the country: “I had a problem with my bank and I decided to register for voter’s card. I did not register for general elections but to rectify a problem with my bank. Politicians are not doing much for the electorates, though I voted only in 2015 polls” he said.
Gloria Johnson registered during the recent Continous Voters Registration (CVR) excercise in Barnawa, Kaduna.
She said, “I want to vote. I am not happy with the governent of APC. I want to vote another party that will help us from this suffering, we are tired of suffering in this country
It matters to me who becomes the president, because what we have now is not helpful to poor people, prices of food stuffs have gone up, everything is very expensive.
Comrade Erickson Ukoha, a resident of Abia in the Southeast region told LEADERSHIP Sunday that he registered at the Civic Centre, Asaga Ohafia in Ohafia local government area of the state in January this year.
Ukoha, who turned 18 in middle of 2021 expressed gladness for having been registered, adding that he was motivated to take the step as part of his civic responsibilities.
“Honestly, I will not be bothered about where the next president will come from. Enough of these sentiments; what we need is a bridge builder. A president, who will be concerned about the general well-being of every Nigeria.”
Some of those who obtained their voters card recently in Anambra said they were motivated to make the move becuase of the last governorship election in the state.
They claimed that the INEC conducted one of the most transparent and credible election in the history of Anambra State.
Speaking with our correspondent, Mr Obinna Nnadi said he was motivated to participate in the voters’ registration exercise becuase he was convinced after that particular election that people’s votes are now count.
Another person, Mrs Nnena Obi told our correspondent that the decision of President Mohhamadu Buhari not to interfere with or manipulate election made her to participate in the last voter registration exercise.
“Honestly I have been watching president Buhari, he does manipulate election wether his party is involved or not, he allows INEC to do is worth so I decided to get my voters card,” she stated.
The voter’s registration exercise continues to gather momentum in Imo State, as an eligible voter, Deacon Uche Onwuchekwa performed his civic responsibility by registering online through the INEC registration portal.
According to him, it the civic right of every eligible voter to obtain the voters card, so as to vote in the forth coming election, stressing that the card qualifies the citizens to carry out his civic responsibility as a citizen.
Deacon Onwuchekwa highlighted that if the truth must be told, it is the turn of the southeast to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. He revealed that since 1999, the Igbo have not been allowed to occupy the presidential seat.
Deacon Onwuchekwa revealed that the cry of marginalization and the agitation for freedom, could be traced to the direct consequences of how the Southeast is treated in the Nation’s political equation.
According to him, for equity, justice and fair play, all the stakeholder’s and political parties in the country should come together, speak with one voice and concede the presidential seat to the Southeast, support a president of Igbo extraction.
This was the way it was given to the Southwest in 1999, which produced Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as president. “What is good for the geese is also good for the ganders”