The total number of registered voters in Nigeria may have risen from 84 million to 96.2 million, The PUNCH has learnt.
This is according to the latest voter statistics released by the Independent National Electoral Commission which states that 12.2 million voters registered in the Continuous voter registration that ended on Sunday.
According to INEC, the North-West geopolitical zone, which comprises the seven states of Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi and Jigawa, with a total of 22.67 million registered voters, has the highest number of registered voters.
As of the 2019 elections, the North-West had 20.15 million voters. However, the latest report released by INEC showed that 2.5 million new voters registered during the recently concluded continuous voter registration , bringing the total number of registered voters in the zone to 22.67 million. The South-West, which earlier had 16.29 million registered voters, now has 18.3 million, having added 2, 039, 982 new registered voters. The zone comprises Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Ondo.
In third position is the South-South which comprises Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Edo and Delta states. The number of registered voters in the zone has risen from 12.8 million to 15.2 million.
The North-Central which is made up of Nasarawa, Kogi, Benue, Niger, Kwara and Plateau, now has 14.1 million voters while the North-East which is made up of Yobe, Borno, Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe, added 1.5 million new voters to reach 12.8 million registered voters.
The South-East, which is the smallest geopolitical zone, and consists of five states – Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Anambra and Imo – now has 11.49 million voters while the number of registered voters in the Federal Capital Territory has increased from 1.3 million to 1.5 million.
Lagos maintained its position as the state with the highest number of registered voters, increasing its figure from 6.5 million to 7.1 million. Kano State also maintained its second position, adding 569, 103 new voters to increase its number to 6.02 million.
Kaduna State now has 4.4 million registered voters while Rivers State has now overtaken Katsina as the fourth largest state in terms of voters. While Rivers now has 3.68 million voters, Katsina has 3.57 million.
Some other states with a sizeable number of registered voters are Delta (3.3 million) and Oyo (3.3 million) Also, Ekiti retained its position as the state with the lowest number of registered voters despite rising from 909, 967 registered voters to 1, 034, 911.
Youths make up 71% of new voters, women outnumber men
A breakdown of INEC’s report also showed that about 71 per cent of the newly registered voters are youths. Of the 12.2 million newly registered voters, about 8.7 million are between the ages of 18 and 34 while about 2.4 million are between ages 35 and 49. Those between ages 50 and 69 are about 856, 017 while about 127, 541 are over 70.
The statistics also showed that more women registered during the latest CVR than men. While 6,224,866 are women, 6,074,078 are men.
Speaking at the post-election training audit for the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun in Abuja on Monday, the National Commissioner and Chairman of the Board of The Electoral Institute, Prof. Abdullahi Zuru, said youths and women constituted the majority of voters.
A political analyst, Dr Busari Dauda, said the new composition of registered voters could determine the winner of the presidential election.
He also said this was a signpost that youths were ready to stop recycling old leaders.
Dauda said, “It is not strange. I think we have people who have matured to 18 years and are ready to exercise their franchise. It portends a positive outcome for the country. It is also a signal that in the subsequent general elections, they would decide who they want as leaders in the country as well take over the affairs of the country at the national level and the recycling will stop and someone much younger will one day become the president.
Also in a chat with one of our correspondents, analyst Dare Atoye-Ariyo, who is also the Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, said the recently concluded Osun State election which led to defeat of an incumbent governor, is evidence that youths are now transforming their online enthusiasm to votes.
“And that’s exactly what we saw in the Osun State governorship elections, ahead of the 2023 elections, there is a possibility that a good number of the new people who have registered this time around are going to vote,” he said.
Atoye-Ariyo added that the fact that the newly registered voters were mostly youths signaled a reawakening.