A former commissioner with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Lai Olurode, has called on traditional birth attendants to cooperate with the commission in keeping birth records to determine voter eligibility.
Olurode told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, that birth record was the only way the commission could know when a prospective voter had come of age.
The former commissioner was speaking on the possible ways to curb underage registration ahead of Kogi and Bayelsa elections, scheduled for November 21 and December 5, respectively.
“If it is possible to use registration of birth rather than basing age on maturity, it will be easy to know who is underage because in some cases, some people do not have birth certificates.
“Sometimes, it is easy for them to claim that they are 18, whereas they are not; if we have verifiable means through which one can cross check these claims, it will be great.
“I will call for the establishment of more centres, where people can have their births registered, if the records of their age were not available at the hospital,” Olurode said.
According to him, people do not take birth registration seriously.
“I will not canvass for legislation because there is no way of enforcing it, people deliver in homes and villages, so how do you enforce it.”
Olurode suggested that there should be certain programmes that could enlighten people on the registration of their children as they give birth to them.
He advised politicians to avoid engaging underage persons in electioneering campaigns, adding that doing so could pose dangers to the electoral process.
He identified major causes of underage registration as competition among communities to out-do one another in terms of vote count, political representation and number of polling units.
He called for continuous voter and political education to let people know that electoral processes had nothing to do with allocation or distribution of material resources but about representation.


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