© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
QUESTION: Why is Gowon just registering for a voter card — since 1999?
Yakubu Gowon, former Military Head of State, is best remembered as the man who oversaw Nigeria’s Civil War of 1967 to 1970.
In recent times, Gowon has been more active as the convener of a Christian group, ‘Nigeria Prays’, which he founded in 1996 to pray against the myriads of challenges confronting the country at the time, chief of which was Sani Abacha, then Head of State.
In fact, Gowon had once implied that Abacha’s death was an answer to one of the prayer rallies organised by his group in Ekiti.
“I remember we went to Ekiti to hold the prayer rally. It was in Ekiti that the Lord really heard our prayers,” Gowon said during a dinner at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Olive Tree Parish, Lagos, on August 15, 2015.
“The attendance at the meeting was incredible and the people who came really prayed. At that time, some army officers had been sentenced to death according to military rule. Some of the officers were from Ekiti. I recall that some of their colleagues had expressed concern about these officers.
“I remember telling them that if the Lord says nothing would happen to the officers that would be it. God Himself would deliver them. I tried to instill faith in the heart of those who expressed such concern. They probably did not believe me. But by the following day after the series of intercession in Ekiti, Abacha was reported to have died.”
It was therefore surprising to many Nigerians when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) tweeted photographs of Gowon and his wife Victoria taking part in the ongoing continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise on Wednesday, March 21.
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) and Mrs. Victoria Gowon (Wife), going through the registration process at the Wuse Centre, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on 21st March. pic.twitter.com/HBZIa5cRhf
— INEC Nigeria (@inecnigeria) March 22, 2018
If Gowon is just registering as a voter in Nigeria, it does mean that the respected elder statesman does not have a voter card, and therefore has not voted in the country’s general election, at least since 2011, when a new voter register was compiled.
INEC says the ongoing CVR is also for voters who had lost the permanent voter cards (PVCs), as well as those who have moved from the place they originally registered.
However, none of the above scenarios requires fresh data capturing as clearly shown in the pictures of Gowon shared by INEC.
A voter who has lost his PVC or who has moved places needs only to apply to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of his present residence, attaching the required documents, and the issue would be resolved.
Fresh data capturing is only required for persons who had not registered before, or persons who, for some reason, can no longer find their names in the voter register.
So, to which of these two categories do Gowon and his wife belong?
Meanwhile, below are a few reactions of Nigerians after they realised that the former Head of State, who organises nationwide prayers for the good of the nation, has perhaps not been carrying out an important civic obligation.
So Gowon and his wife had never voted since 1999 or they are doing double registration.
— #NigeriaWillBeGreat (@amenahuruemu) March 22, 2018
😱 Does that means they’ve never registered before? Incredible!
— Red Rose 💎 (@Roseangel009) March 22, 2018
So the didn’t register all this while and I guess have not been Voting since 2011 n 2015
— IheagwamKenneth (@ihekenneth) March 22, 2018
Come on, is he and his wife just registering? I am speechless.
— Emeka Anene (@martmekus) March 22, 2018
Was the former Head of State not captured before ?
Has he been voting during the past and last elections ?
Was it a PR enlightenment ?
It leaves so many questions unanswered .
— Iliyasu Ali (@iliyasu_ali) March 22, 2018