The Steps to General Election Process in Nigeria

General Election Process in Nigeria are forms of choosing representatives to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the various states in the fourth republic Nigeria.

There are various stages for General Election Process in Nigeria. General Election are conducted periodically into various political offices across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

General Election Process in Nigeria are conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The Independent National Elections Commission (INEC) is the Commission set up by the Constitution to conduct, supervise elections in Nigeria for the office of the President, Vice-President, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, Governors, Deputy- Governors, and members of the States Houses of Assembly.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was established by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to among other things organize elections into various political offices in the country. The functions of INEC as contained in Section 15, Part 1 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and Section 2 of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended).

The Steps to General Election Process in Nigeria

As the General Election are hold every four years, it is necessary to let citizens who are 18 years and above know the voting procedure of the general election process in Nigeria. It is your civic responsibility as a citizen of Nigeria to be involved in electing your leaders. This is what election is all about and there cannot be election without voters.

There are several voting procedure of the general election process in Nigeria that are involved when conducting elections in Nigeria. These procedure are briefly discussed below:

1. Voter Card Registration

One of the most important procedure of the general election process in Nigeria is by obtaining a Permanent Voters Card (PVC).

The Permanent Voters Card (PVC) enables registered voters exercise their civic right to vote in the General Elections.

In order to collect your PVC, You need to present your Temporary Voter’s Card to the INEC Officials.

The PVC stores information such as biometric data i.e. physical attributes, thumbprint, etc. It protects the information stored in the card. The information on the PVCs are electronically programmed and can only be read /assessed electronically with a card reader.

2. Primary Election

At the primary’s stage, the aspirants seeking to run for a political office through a platform of a political party shall face both the parties’ screening and primary elections.

The party members will elect one aspirant, each among others contesting for the same position or office through the same political party. The winners at this stage shall be nominated by the various political parties to compete for the general election.

3. Campaigning

This general election process in Nigeria involves the electoral political parties and their nominated candidate campaigning actively for the support and votes of the general public.

The INEC usually schedules the campaigning periods. Political parties generally do it by promoting their various ideas and promises using multiple media platforms such as television, radios, street outreach, pamphlets, and occasional visits to gain the support and followership of the voters.

4. Accreditation

The INEC regulations states that the method of voting shall be by the Continuous Accreditation and Voting Systems (CAVS) procedure.

According to the procedural system, no person will be allowed to vote at any polling unit other than the persons whose names appear on the register.

The accreditation process involves reading the permanent Voters Card (PCV) and the authentication of the voter’s fingerprint.

The INEC is entitled to abandon fingerprint accreditations if their machines are malfunctioning or due to network issues. Accreditation tips:

    • Polling Unit will open at 8:30am and close at 2:30pm or when the last person on the queue on or before 2:30pm  This means that all eligible voters on queue as at 2:30pm will be allowed to vote.
    • Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) shall be used to verify you (voter) as the valid owner of the PVC in your possession and that your name is on the Register of Voters in that polling unit.
    • Itwill match your fingerprints and (or) face; one of which must successfully identify you as the owner of the PVC presented to the official before you will be allowed to
    • If the BVAS fails to recognise your fingerprint, the facial recognition function of BVAS will be used to verify and accredited.
    • After the above steps are successfully completed, a poll official will check for your name in the Register of Voters and tick it.
    • Indelible ink will be applied on the cuticle of your  finger.
    • A stamped, signed and dated ballot paper will be issued to you.
    • If the BVAS fails to recognise your fingerprints as well as facial photograph, you will not be allowed to vote.

5. Voting

Voting days in Nigeria are usually during the weekends, especially Saturdays. Under the current electoral law, election to the office of the President and Vice-President as well as National Assembly shall hold first, while election to the office of the Governor and Deputy Governor and State House of Assembly shall hold two (2) weeks after that.

This is to ensure that opportunity is created for a rerun if need be. The polling units for voting are declared open, usually by 8 am, or 10 am in some voting centers.

The polling officials appointed by INEC will be at the various units to conduct the election. The voters are allowed to cast their votes using the appropriate voter’s card after proper identification and accreditation. To vote;

    • You will go to the voting cubicle to mark your choice on the ballot paper in secret.
    • Ensure the ink does not smear other parts of the ballot paper to avoid your vote being rejected.
    • The ballot paper should be folded
    • You are not allowed to take photograph of the ballot paper when in the voting cubicle.
    • You will drop the marked ballot paper into the ballot box in full view of all present.
    • After casting your vote, you are free to remain 300 metres from the polling area to witness sorting, counting and announcement of result, provided you are orderly and do not disrupt the process.

6. Collation of the votes

This is one of the crucial stages in the election process.  After successful voting, the ballots are counted, tabulated, and summarized at every polling center by the INEC Officials.

Votes are counted differently for each candidate at every polling unit. The candidate who wins the majority of the votes after a scrutinized counting will be declared the winner.

The failure to complete the collation and transmission of results in a quick, transparent, and accurate manner can jeopardize and affect the entire process of the election.

7. Collation and Announcement of Results

Results shall be collated at various levels depending on the type of election, after which it is announced by INEC.

In order to enhance transparency, INEC has provided an online results viewing portal called IReV ( where you can view results of all polling units in real time before they are declared at the end of the election by INEC.

This is the final stage of an election process. After the successful counting of the votes cast, the candidate and party with the highest votes will be officially announced by INEC officials.

The announcement of the result is a mandatory requirement of the electoral process. Upon the declaration of the result, the winners shall be presented with the Certificate of Return by the presiding or returning officers.

Who is Allowed (Eligible) to Vote?

To vote, you must be:

  • A Nigerian, 18 years and above
  • A registered voter
  • In possession of a Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC)
  • Appear in person at the polling unit

Where Can I Vote?

You will vote in the polling unit where your name is enlisted in the Register of Voters.

Do I Need my PVC to be Able to Vote?

YES! Only those with their PVC and that are authenticated using the BVAS device (fingerprint or facial recognition) shall be allowed to vote. NO PVC, NO VOTING!

What is BVAS?

BVAS is an electronic machine called Bimodal Voter Accreditation System. It is used for voter verification and authentication to confirm the identity of a voter using either their fingerprints or face.

Significance of BVAS

The BVAS and/or any other electronic device INEC uses at elections has been backed by the Electoral Act 2022. It ensures that only persons eligible to vote and in possession of their PVCs and whose names are on the register of voters of a particular polling unit are allowed to vote at that polling unit and to only vote once.

Differences between BVAS and the Smart Card Reader (SCR) previously used by INEC

  • It verifiesand accredits voter using either their fingerprints or their face, eliminating failure to accredit eligible voter.
  • Details of voters are stored on the BVAS and not on the PVCas was the case with SCR.
  • BVASis used as INEC Voter Enrolment Device (IVED) during voters registration.
  • BVAS is used for uploading election results to the INEC Results viewing Portal (IReV).

The BVAS automatically updates itself as accreditation takes place hence, the figures cannot be manipulated.

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