The Head of Outreach and Media Relations at NEC, Albert Massaquoi said “We are certain that the exercise would be smooth and our targeted number of voters will be achieved.” It is now noted that NEC did not reach their target which many critical analysts say it is a failure on the part of NEC.
The first phase of the registration process started on the 20 March and ended on the 16 April 2017. Prior to the end of the first phase, Members of Parliament unanimously voted to extend the voter’s registration period upon the request of NEC on Thursday 13 April, after extensive debate to continue the voter registration unto 30 April 2017.
NEC has reported and collated a total of 100% registered voters from 3,300 centers across the country. So far the commission has released the provisional registration figures which show a grand total of 3.1million (3,128,967) as having registered as eligible voters in readiness to vote in the 7 March 2018 General Elections.
The main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party has already faulted the exercise. The man leading their voter registration process, Jacob Jusu Saffa said registration centers were too far apart and that led to the low turnout of eligible voter to register in various part of the country.
“We think it is too much on the people and the process de-motivates them” Jacob Jusu Saffa said. He said that in parts of his party’s stronghold, such as the district of Bo, people in riverside villages would be required to travel by canoe to access a centre which he said would disenfranchise them because of the lack of resources.
Among the 100% of the centers being reported so far, the North maintains its lead in the entire process with 32% or 998, 750, followed closely by the Western Area with 28% or 890, 152. These areas are considered as stronghold of the ruling APC Party.
Jacob Jusu Saffa said the ruling party has more resources than his party, and they motivate people in their strongholds to register, an action which did not provide a level playing field.
The South and East with 20% each; 620, 826 and 619, 229 respectively.
Western Urban has the highest number of registered voters with 602,760, while Bonthe District got the lowest with 92,437.
In a release by the Commission, it “stresses that the figures are provisional at this stage” and that it will “continue with the next stages of the Voter Registration process that include, inter-alia, data export and transmission of data captured in all 3,300 centers nationwide; data processing at the NEC National Data Centre, de-duplication and adjudication and later, the printing and exhibition of the Provisional Voters Register (PVR)”.
The Commission continues to encourage all eligible Sierra Leoneans to exercise patience and restraint as it strives to make the voter registration exercise credible, accurate and transparent.
NEC further acknowledges “the positive contributions of all election stakeholders that participated actively in the successful conduct of field data capture process”.