Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) plans to review the country’s election guidelines to allow Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to vote in the next election.
Political activists are putting pressure on the government to make provision for a centralised voting system where nationals can easily vote without being restricted to particular polling stations.
Nigeria has more than three million internally displaced persons according to the United Nations and many of them missed out on the 2015 and 2019 elections
One of the Internally Displaced Person, Liyatu Ayuba says they are excited and looking forward to the country’s general elections next year.
“I am really delighted that we Displaced people get to vote next year. To vote for a leader that we hope will end the insecurity so that we can one day leave here and go back to our states and our communities.”
The decade long insurgency in Northeast Nigeria has displaced more than 2 million people from their homes, with thousands living in camps like this.
Farmers and herders clashes, killing and kidnapping for ransom by armed groups in the northwest and central parts of the country have also led to the displacement of more people in the country.”
Many IDPs did not vote in the elections that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power because they were forced to relocate from the areas where they initially registered to vote.
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission has started the process to review its guidelines to allow displaced people to vote with ease.
Part of the review is to have special arrangements to distribute Voter’s Cards at IDP camps, a move that political activists say would include all eligible voters in the country’s election process
Political Activist and Chief Executive of Connected Development, Hamza Lawal says security personnel to provide and guarantee the protection of lives and property will be needed.
“They would have polling stations closer to the IDP camps and they would work with security agencies to ensure that you have security personnel to provide and guarantee the protection of lives and property, particularly the INEC adhoc staff who would undertake this process
The commission has also made arrangements to ensure that IDP camps are covered during the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise.
Analysts say beyond providing security and bringing voting points closer to displaced persons, Nigeria’s government needs to ensure an election system where Nigerians get to vote in any part of the country irrespective of where they registered.
Lawal says it is important that they have a unified system where it is not hell-bent on a permanent voter’s card but a unique identification system as a citizen.
“As we evolve in our democracy, I think it’s important that we have a unified system where it is not hell-bent on a permanent voters card but a unique identification system as a citizen, as a people and as a country irrespective of where you are, once you are eligible to vote, you don’t have to be tied to a particular polling unit or polling booth
Political campaigns are already in top gear, with candidates rallying support from Nigerians.
The Presidential and National assembly elections are scheduled for February 25th, while the gubernatorial, and State Assembly polls are on March 11th, 2023.