15 million voter cards in Nigeria not collected, many could miss election

World Today

Supporters of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan, gather, during an election campaign rally, at Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos, Nigeria, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. The president launched his bid for re-election at a time when Africa’s biggest oil producer is more divided than ever, amid a growing Islamic uprising in the northeast and slumping oil prices and the naira currency biting into people’s pockets. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

As security in northern Nigeria remains volatile, there are growing concerns that millions of voters could miss out on next month’s presidential elections.

Government officials said more than 15 million people have yet to pick up the voter cards they’ll need to access polling stations on the voting day on Feb. 14. The uncollected voter cards comprise nearly 28 percent of the more than 54 million registered voters in the country.

Nigerian President Jonathan Goodluck is running for the second time against former military leader, Gen. Muhamadu Buhari, who is frantically canvasing for votes.

15 million voter cards in Nigeria not collected, many could miss election

As northern Nigeria remains volatile, there are growing concerns that millions of voters could miss out on next month's presidential elections.

It’s still unclear why voters have yet to collect their cards. While lack of security in northeastern Borno and Adamawa states is an obstacle, it shouldn’t be difficult in other parts of the country.

“Anyone who does not take possession of his permanent voter card will not be able to vote in 2015 in the February elections. And, so it is important for people to collect this cards,” said Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary for the Independent National Electoral Commission.

More than 1 million people who ave been displaced by the extremist group of Boko Haram in Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states also might not qualify to vote unless a quick-fix, legal framework is put in place.

The electoral commission has said it is making arrangements for people in the conflict areas to vote.

“As we prepare for the elections, we are putting a lot of effort and energy in terms of assessing the security situation in those areas and in terms of finding effective measures of either containment or pre-emption that can ensure that the elections are conducted peacefully. But, as I have said, we are not a security agency,” Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, INEC chairman, said.