The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Muhammed Bello has offered to partner with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and provide mobile registration teams to remote areas of Abuja.
The FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, made the pledge during a stakeholders meeting with INEC staff and politicians in Abuja.
Bello, while chairing the stakeholders meeting explained that the aim was to sensitize key players in the exercise and ensure that the targeted groups are registered.
“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”, he stressed.
The Minister also reminded the meeting that in democracy, the weapon every citizen has is the ability to vote, adding that voters’ registration is the first step to actualise the fundamental right of all eligible voters to elect their leaders.
Bello decried that the figures of the total voters’ registration cards collected in the territory last month, did not match the population figures of six million people.
The Minister emphasized that it was very important for all the religious leaders, political leaders, traditional leaders and other stakeholders to go back and sensitise people at the grassroots on the importance and need to take part in the exercise.
“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 voters, then you see our voice in national affairs will be stronger.”
Earlier in her remarks, the Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for FCT, Hajiya Samaltu Gaji Ibrahim said INEC had flagged off the Continuous Voters’ Registration exercise in the territory on April 27, just as in other states of the Federation.
Hajiya Ibrahim said that the CVRs exercise aims to register eligible voters who have just matured into the voting age of 18 years and those who could not register previously.
She explained that the exercise would also cater to those wishing to change their points of registration from one place to another or from one polling unit to the other.
The Acting REC added that so far, 5,424 people had been registered in the FCT while 876 people who sought for transfer have also been registered.
Also speaking, the Senator Representing the FCT, Senator Philip Aduda, decried 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 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, a member of the House of Reps, representing AMAC/Bwari Federal Constituency and Hon. Zakari Angulu Dodi representing Abuja South Federal Constituency.
Others were traditional rulers, party leaders, youth and women groups and other stakeholders.