, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – John Nyongesa is a 23 year-old resident of Nairobi and has never participated in any election since he became eligible to vote.
On Monday, Nyongesa was determined to be among the first beneficiaries of the mass voter registration exercise launched by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“I want to decide my future,” a visibly excited Nyongesa told Capital FM News after he registered as a voter at the Pumwani Community Social Hall in Kamukunji Constituency, a few minutes after IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan launched the 30-day exercise.
“It is the only way I can decide who will become my Governor and more so the President,” he said.
Similar were the sentiments of others who spoke to Capital FM News with a majority attributing their eagerness to register to having their “say in the presidential contest.”
Joseph Ouma, a resident of the Eastleigh, was among them: “It’s because of the presidential contest that I am here,” he said while urging his counterparts to register.
They described the process as swift and efficient which IEBC Chairman Hassan said was critical to meeting their voter registration targets. “We don’t want people turning away because of cues.”
Hassan, speaking during the launch said the exercise is being carried out in all of Kenya’s 1,450 wards.
“We are looking to register four million new voters,” he said.
He said the BVR kits deployed for the exercise were distributed according to the size and population of the wards.
Hassan said the exercise will continue even after the stipulated time, at the constituency level.
Another mass voter registration drive, he said, is planned for the same time, next year.
At the conclusion of the two mass voter registration drives, Hassan said they hope to have registered eight million new voters to bring the total number of voters registered in Kenya to 22 million.
A figure he said was based on data obtained from the National Registration Bureau which had issued 23.8 million Identification cards as of December 2014.
He urged Kenyans eligible to register as voters to avoid the last minute rush while urging political leaders to mobilise their supporters for the Commission to meet its target.
“We urge people not to wait for the last week… The Kenya mentality of the last minute rushing,” he cautioned.
He said those who participated in the 2013 elections do not need to register afresh.
The CORD coalition has however asked the IEBC to extend the 30-day voter registration drive by another month.
Coalition leader Raila Odinga called on his supporters to turn out in large numbers to register as voters so they could exercise their Constitutional right to vote.
He also called on Parliament to give the Commission enough resources to adequately prepare for the 2017 General Elections.
The commission has hired 5, 756 clerks to carry out the exercise for all seven days of the next four weeks.