By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
The Executive Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has tasked the National Population Commission (NPC) to come up with an official list of dead Nigerians to enable the electoral umpire clean up the Voters Register for a free, fair and credible elections in the country.
He also charged the NPC that it should perhaps start by availing INEC with the list of prominent Nigerians who have passed on, civil and public servants compiled from the official records of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other Nigerians from hospital and funeral s across the country.
Prof. Yakubu stated this on Friday in his remarks during a courtesy call by the Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) held at the Conference Room of INEC in Abuja.
The INEC boss who traced the age-long collaboration and strategic partnership between INEC and NPC, appealed to the new Chairman of the NPC, in his capacity as the registrar of births and deaths in Nigeria, to periodically avail INEC of the data of deceased Nigerians so that it can use the official information from the Commission to further clean up the Voters’ Register.
Speaking further Prof. Yakubu said: “We appreciate that this is a Herculean task but that is partly why we have a National Population Commission. We are confident that NPC has the capacity to do so. This information is critical for INEC to enhance the credibility of the National Register of Voters”.
According to him: “Both NPC and INEC are constitutional bodies established under Section 153 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Over the years, we have established collaboration and strategic partnership with the Population Commission.The duties and responsibilities of the two Commissions under the Constitution make such partnership necessary”.
He also said that “In carrying out our statutory duty to organise, undertake and supervise elections, INEC is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the division of the States of the Federation into Senatorial Districts, Federal and State constituencies as well as Wards in the Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory”.
Prof. Yakubu explained that the Commission is mandated to do so at an interval of not less than ten years or by reason of creation of States, pursuant to an Act of the National Assembly or in consequence of a population census in Nigeria. On the other hand, NPC is required, among its many responsibilities, to undertake the enumeration of the people of Nigeria periodically through census and to provide information and data on the country’s population to facilitate national planning and economic development.
He however said: “I am glad to report that over the years, the two Commissions have embarked on one of the most imaginative and extensive inter-agency collaborations in Nigeria, in the area of delimitation of boundaries of electoral constituencies. Over the years, officials of the two Commissions undertook a joint project to demarcate the boundaries of INEC’s Registration Areas (RAs)/Wards with NPC’s Enumeration Areas (EAs). This initiative is known as the RA/EAD Project.
He addef that:”the idea is to enable INEC to easily delimit and periodically review Electoral Constituencies based on NPC’s figures whenever there is a new population census. This cannot be achieved without accurate population data. This is partly why no constituencies have been delimited in Nigeria since the last exercise was carried out 25 years ago in 1996 by the defunct National Electoral Commission of Nigeria (NECON). Working together with the Population Commission, we are determined to make a difference this time around, just as we solved the problem of voter access to Polling Units in Nigeria.
“We have already prepared and produced a Discussion Paper on Electoral Constituencies in Nigeria looking at the issues more broadly, including the imperative of a new population census. We will share copies of the Paper with the NPC at this meeting”, he said.
In his speech, the new Executive Chairman of NPC, Alhaji Nasir Isa Kwarra, went down the memory lane revealed that he and his board were at INEC in continuation of the already established cooperation between the two government agencies.
He however lamented that NPC has not been able to conduct national census in the last 16 years, promising that the Commission is planning to start delineation of the country and hopes to conduct national census very soon.
Said he: “NPC hopes to employ manual and electronic enumeration just as it will making use of satellite imaging to achieve the aim of conducting credible census in Nigeria.